Greening Doon With “Green Doon Project” :
The fact that the climate of the Doon Valley is being disastrously affected by systematic environmental destruction, partly from unbridled construction activity as well as from human greed and ignorance is indisputable. The past few years have seen longer summers, longer dry periods, falling rainfall and extreme weather conditions, making Dehradun and its surrounding areas far from the idyllic escape it once was Every year, since its inception in 1985, the Friends of the Doon Society has, through its Trees for Doon project, donated, planted, monitored and looked after about 2000 free saplings to educational and other institutions, as well as protected areas, in the monsoon. This year, thanks to generous funding from Asia Initiative, FODS has upscaled this project to green the Doon valley with at least 12,000 saplings.
These trees are local, indigenous and sustainable varieties which have been selected in keeping with the biodiversity and ecological sensitivity of the Doon Valley. The Green Doon Project is also aimed at educating young minds about the importance of environmental conservation and all the attendant benefits of planting trees — from water conservation to clean air to sustaining and propagating animal and plant species.
This makes the tree-planting exercise both meaningful and forward-looking. School children are an integral part of the process from the beginning so that they understand everything from pit-digging to planting to after-care and survival. Inhouse experts like Sujit Mukherjee, former director of the Wildlife Institute of India, are among those who explain the importance of environmental conservation to school children.
FODS firmly believes that tokenism is the wrong way of saving the environment. Areas for planting are therefore carefully chosen so that these saplings will be looked after, to ensure a good survival rate.
This effort, which started with the digging of the pits in April, will continue into September . So far, FODS has donated and supervising the planting of saplings at institutions and residential areas like Pestleweed College, Ecole Globale, Kendriya Vidyalaya :FRI, Uttaranchal Dental College, Hope Town School, Heritage School, DAV School Defence Colony, Doon University, IIP Campus, Jalvayu Vihar Colony, and Defence Colony, among others.
Smart City Plans:
FODS under its Citizens Action Group forum created a Smart City initiative plan, which stimulated an intense drive during the early months of 2016, against the ecologically unsustainable Smart City proposal of the state government to take over the historical tea gardens of Dehradun. Press conferences, a “Dehradun Declaration” and a gathering of school children and eminent citizens to express their love for green areas were organized at various public areas to raise awareness . This ensured that a more people friendly and efficient plan be drawn by concerned authorities to benefit all sections of the society. FODS continues its watch, coordinates with other platforms, and maintains a dialogue with different govt. agencies to ensure a balanced and eco friendly Smart City Plan is drawn and implemented in the times to come.
Rispana River Rejuvenation :
FODS latest concern is with dwindling potable water supply for the city of Dehradun . This situation has come to be due to diminishing green cover in aquafier belts that feed the two main rivers of the region and unchecked encroachment on river beds. Dehradun’s major rivers Bindal and Rispana from whence the supply of potable water comes, have been reduced to a trickle, with huge areas of contamination and illegal occupation of river beds turning the river into a ‘nala’. Data is now being gathered to assess the state of the watershed area, in the hope of restoring these before its too late.