Dehradun: Several citizen groups demand enquiry and immediate stop to MDDA's Riverfront program.
Over a dozen citizen groups got together on Saturday to issue a joint demand of an enquiry and investigation demanding accountability for what they call 'monumental lapses' in MDDA's Riverfront program in Dehradun. The citizen groups attacked the Riverfront project from legal,environmental and technical angles, while pointing out that the project is unsustainable on all fronts.
The residents unanimously pointed towards the recent images of MDDA's fallen front that were brought to the public domain by members of student activist group, Making A Difference by Being The DIfference. (MAD by BTD) Last week, MAD had released a detailed report on the damage that had occured in Dehradun city due to the lack of planning on the part of our civic authorities in preparing to deal with the rainy season. In their report, they had specifically emphasized how MDDA's riverfront program was down on its knees as the retaining walls that had been made by MDDA after encroaching the riverbed had collapsed due to the pressure of water. All citizen groups pointed out that it is a matter of grave concern that so many efforts, taxpayer's money were completely wasted in making such walls. What further astonished citizens is that MDDA's team wrote the objections of the irrigation department that had raised severe questions on the veracity of the technical study that MDDA had perperted to have conducted before launching the program through its technical agency WAPCOS. Citizens pointed out that while WAPCOS had measured waterflow at a particular point as 10 cubic metre per second, at the same point in time and at the same location the irrigation department had measured the flow as 100 cubic metre per second which raised serious doubts on the technical aspect of the project.
Lastly, all citizen groups called for the immediate halt on the riverfront program and for fixing accountability on errand and corrupt officials who would be behind such foolish policy formation that has earned MDDA the infamous name of Mussourie Dehradun Destruction Authority. Citizens observed that no talk of RIspana rejuvenation will carry credibility unless chronic issues facing the river such as the river front development program,encroachment and sewer line digging are frontally tackled by the government. Pointing to recent high court verdicts, citizens hoped that the government will take the ruling seriously, otherwise not only will it face the judicial wrath but also collective citizen anger. The press conference was organized on the initiative of MAD, that has been vigorously campaigning for rejuvenating the perennial rivers of Doon since the last 7 years. Supporting organizations and included Rajpur Community Initiative, Inspirations "Prerna" Foundation, Sanyukt Nagarik Sangathan, Resident Welfare Association, Pramukh, Aagaz Foundation, All India Consumer Council, Citizens For Green Doon and Ex - General Secretary of DAV PG College, Sachin Thapliyal.
Reenu Paul, Founder, Rajpur Community Initiative- "This whole project is wrong at the conceptual level. For riverfront development, throughout the world more land has been given and cleared and here they are reclaiming land from the river itself. This project should be stalled and an inquiry should be ordered." Sujata Paul Maliah, Inspirations "Prerna" Foundation- "The retaining walls constructed in the Rispana was an ill thought of and a waste of public money for which accountability must be fixed in a state which is already reeling under huge debts. No such plan should be brought in again without due discussion with the citizens who have to live in the State."
Ashish Garg, Member, Citizens for Green Doon- "Considering past data, it would have been logical to construct either RCC (Reinforced cement concrete ) which would not have got demolished as it is visible or stone masonry wall could have been constructed with cut rectangular stones which could have provided more stability. Even gunny bags with steel net would have sufficed the purpose and could have entailed less cost." Mahesh Bhandari, President, Resident Welfare Association- "There was no logic to construct retaining walls right in the middle of the river. Since the wall was constructed to recover the land by filling and not to protect the bank, the failure was eminent." Sushil Kumar Tyagi, Secretary, Sanyukt Nagarik Sangathan- "Citizens' word should have been taken into consideration. A lot of public money has been wasted and someone must be made accountable for this." Paramjit Kakkar, Pramukh- "Those in power probably think they are the only one to be decision makers and the common man has no say for which the government is supposed to working. It's the public money which is spent on the projects meant to serve them and its only through citizen participation process that these services and projects can meet the requirement/aspirations of the public."