Doon’s student activist group does a reality check on the conditions of Bindal and Rispana rivers in the city
MAD releases tragically shocking status report on Rispana and Bindal: Demands urgent state action to save the streams.
Dehradun: Dehradun’s own student activist group Making A Difference by Being the Difference (MAD) held a conference on Tuesday to release a status report on the condition of Bindal and Rispana streams. This report has been documented by MAD on the basis of over half a dozen treks undertaken by the group members of the two streams. MAD members, all aged between 15 to 23 years, have trekked by foot over 40 kilometres of a rocky, raged clad and encroachment clad path. These treks were undertaken in two phases. The first phase consisted of three treks which started from under the Bindal pull till the source of the Bindal Stream. The second phase started from under the Rispana pull to the source of Rispana Stream.
The first phase of the Bindal trek revealed that the stream bed largely comprised domestic waste, affluents, plastic and dead animals and human excreta. Even breathing was difficult for members in such toxic environment. It was noticed that the encroachment was not just on the banks of the river but right at the river bed which posed serious environmental hazards and also a direct threat to the slum dwellers in the eventuality of heavy rains. In the path ahead, MAD members noticed that more and more waste was being routinely dumped in the Bindal streams; so much so that the piles of waste had almost become a part of the river embankment. Continuing the trek via the Mussoorie diversion road, MAD members tried their best to stay on the stream bed but wherever the conditions of the waste were very toxic and made the trek unbearable; the members started walking on the river side: as close to the stream as possible. MADdians took a brief halt at Cancer Rehabilitation Centre on Rajpur Road and continued their trek close to the Sai Mandir area and upwards near the ICM College. After this, the MADdians started hunting for the source of the Bindal stream and were told by the localites about the Shiv Baoli temple from where the Bindal river gets its water from a stream coming from Chok Bazaar. The group went from Jakhan till Doon Vihar and tried to locate the source of the stream; but continued to find that garbage, plastic was being regularly dumped into the stream as well as illegal construction was being carried out rampantly in broad day light. The team ended their Bindal trek near Johary Gaon and was greatly saddened by the overall experience of seeing a beautiful stream become a sewer and just another piece of land for everybody to encroach.
If the condition of the Bindal River was bad, that of Rispana was far worse. When MAD members first started their trek from under the Rispana Pull they were literally astonished beyond measure to see this kind of extreme waste in the stream; since most individuals are unaware that this kind of a site also exists in their beloved Doon Valley. Undeterred by the extremely unpleasant surroundings made of waste the team continued its trek near Mohini Road, Dalanwala and noticed that as soon as the stream became slightly broader it turned into a waste disposal ground. Human and animal faeces were common all along the river and so was the pungent smell. On reaching Sanjay Colony near Inder Road, the team reached diversion point near Tapowan. Such was the state of the river that the team soon saw that all water had disappeared; the site of a few ducks struggling to survive without water amongst the pigs was very moving as the team continued to trek to Adhoiwala, Choonabhatti and Shastri Nagar where a huge JCB was spotted excavating near the river bed.
Near the Shiv Mandir in Adhoiwala, considerable construction was underway right at the river bed and the team noticed that a lot of drains were directly feeding the Rispana with toxic supplies. The team continued its trek from Hotel Aketa on Rajpur Road and also near Kondaly Shiv Mandir. Human settlements were common everywhere and a large amount of de:siltation had taken place. As the trek continued from Happy Enclave, the team crossed Kishanpur and Phag Do Basti area and noticed that all around the stream, and even ahead in Gabbar Basti area near Nagal Road; a lot of dirty water was constantly entering Rispana. The team continued to trek upwards and faced an uneven topography till the point where the team reached very close to Tapobhoomi Ashram and noticed that on the sides of the river a lot of unfinished construction was taking place. On enquiry the team found out that the houses were being constructed to rehabilitate the slum dwellers living on the river bed. The Rispana trek concluded very close to Shikhar Falls area the vegetation around which is supposed to be the main source of the stream.
Encroachment, constant pollution, faulty drainage system, plastic and complete lack of civic sense as well as governmental supervision can be said to be the common problems which face both the streams. It is particularly tragic for Rispana since the streams carry considerable water which is all lost out due to pollution. A common trend which was seen was that in the upper catchment area of both streams there was relatively less encroachment and hence the streams were flowing but if urgent action is not taken to control encroachment even these areas will be lost out to unplanned urbanization.
Recommendations and Future Course of Action:
MAD plans to share a copy of this status report with the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari, the District Magistrate, the Mayor and other Civic Authorities for their perusal and will demand strong and prompt action on its part, MAD has already been campaigning hard for the revival of stream at the policy level and it was on MAD’s request that the Chief Minister Harish Rawat as the then Union Cabinet Minister for Water Resources had directed the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) Roorkee to conduct a study to review Dehradun’s streams ; which had later shown that the revival was indeed possible. It is noteworthy that leader of opposition Ajay Bhatt and former Secretary of Irrigation, Dr Ajay Pradyot have also written in favour of MAD’s campaign to review Doon’s streams. Even than such conditions of the streams is very appalling. Those members who were active during the trek included Hardeep Singh, Ankit Sajwan, Kunaian Ansari, Kashika Mahant, Kartikey Khatri, Jai Sharma, Saumya Rauthan and Ayushi. The conference was addressed by Founding President, MAD Abhijay Negi and attended by Shardul Aswal, Simran, Alok, Anchal, Vidushi among others.