Towering violations belittle govt claims
Many a builder has succeeded in bending the norms with little resistance from the  Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 30
The alleged expose of unlawful construction of Hotel Pacific speaks volumes of the magnitude of the problem in the city as it involves the high and mighty. It also reveals the functioning of the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), the agency responsible for planned development that has been mired in controversy since it came into being.
Shutters being put up on Rajpur Road in Dehradun.
Shutters being put up on Rajpur Road in Dehradun. A Tribune photograph

This is not the first instance of unlawful construction in downtown Dehradun. Cases of blatant violation of construction norms by hotels and builders of apartments have been exposed time and again and each time the MDDA has been on the defensive.

It is mainly builders who indulge in the liberties. Norms of every kind are thrown to the winds by hotels, residential complexes and business apartments. The issue of raising of height of structures has also come under the scanner. Many a builder has succeeded in bending the norms with little resistance from the MDDA.

In a case involving Subash Road Pacific Hotel, the structural flaw was revealed only o0n the intervention of the State Information Commission. While taking up a particular petition, it sought construction details of the hotel. The map of the hotel was subsequently found missing from the MDDA office, revealing the sorry state of affairs at the authority. The commission, taking the matter seriously, made the PWD, fire department and Jal Santhan parties to the case. The next hearing is on February 9.

The MDDA is searching for the map. “We sent a team to Lucknow to obtain the map as the hotel had taken a loan from Pradeshiya Industrial Investment Corporation of UP (Picup),” said Meenakshi Sundaram, vice-chairman, MDDA, adding that it may be a case of theft.

On violations on the part of hotel owners, she said she would look into the matter once the list of violators was received.

Many a hotel has been in the thick of controversy for on and off constructions. These hotels have been at the forefront in occupying government land illegally. A hotel on Rajpur road near Dilaram Bazar had occupied a drain to expand the hotel lawns! Residents in the vicinity opposed the move but to no avail.

At Tyagi Road locality in Dehradun, at least six hotels have violated norms. A member of the Doon Citizen Council, pleading anonymity, expressed concern over these mushrooming hotels. The hotels have no parking facilities. As a result, the entire Tyagi road faces traffic hassles.

While these hoteliers and owners of commercial establishments continue to enjoy influence, it is the common man that is ultimate sufferer. “It takes months for an ordinary Doonite to get a map for a two-room house approved but for commercial establishments it’s all too easy,” said PS Rawat, a Raipur resident.

“Any unlawful construction needs to be deal with sternly or else it will lead to disastrous consequences for the city,” observed Brig KG Behl (retd), president of the local unit of the All-India Consumer Council (AICC), who is hopeful of a favourable decision in a case with the apex court regarding unlawful construction of apartments in Dalanwala locality of Dehradun.

Brig Behl,who is president of the Dalanwala Residents Welfare Society, has waged a long battle against the builders and has strong reservations over the working of the MDDA.

In another blatant violation of norms at the Old Survey road junction, a ruling party leader is coming up with a construction flouting norms. When informed of the violation, the MDDA vice-chairman said he was not aware of the matter.

Despite unauthorised constructions galore, there have been few instances when the MDDA has acted in a punitive matter. Barring bringing down a construction adjacent to Kanak Cinema and sealing of floors of certain commercial complexes, there is hardly any other instance where the authority has razed an illegal construction. The MDDA vice-chairman denies the charge. “We have always acted sternly against unauthorised construction of any sort,” he asserted.

The MDDA too has its commercial interests.The body recently went to the extent of building apartments at Pritam Road office by shifting the ISBT office. But after much resentment by employees, the plan was shelved. The authority now plans a bigger office at the site.



Terror revisits Mussoorie
Anmol Jain

Mussoorie, January 30
These "terrorists" just won’t give up. After a few months’ lull, they have reappeared in numbers, scavenging around in big groups with no fear of humans whatsoever. The local populace, especially children and the elderly, are a terrified lot.

Many a resident has been attacked by these tailed terrorists, who have now begun to break into homes to steal to eat. These simians are no ordinary terrorists. They strike fear in the hearts of children who dare not venture out to play and remain confined to the safety of their homes.

“The freedom of our children has been curtailed as we are forced to keep them indoors most of the time,” said a very worried mother. The monkeys jump onto car roofs from nearby trees and cause dents. “Big dents have appeared on my car,” says an angry Feroz.

The Nagar Palika had initiated a drive to capture and then release the monkeys in nearby jungles. It cost the civic body Rs 1.5 lakh to capture 300 simians.

“We thought finally we have got rid of the monkey menace, but the drive has failed to produce the desired results,” said woebegone Varun Rawat.

The Tribune had raised doubts over the success of this drive with experts maintaining that similar drives initiated in other towns in the country had proved to be counter- productive.

Although the local administration remains mum on the issue, some officials admit that the drive has failed miserably. “I admit that the drive has been a flop but in the absence of any proven solution to control the monkeys this was the only option with us,” said an official. He said the authorities had acted in good faith but it was another matter that the monkeys had returned to the town.

Admitting that medium to long-term efforts are required to curb the menace, the locals suggest several solutions. Nitish Mohan says the monkeys are attracted to the town due to the garbage. He suggests a garbage collection and disposal system so that it is not left uncovered.

“The open garbage bins are the food source for the monkeys and efforts should be made to keep them closed,” says Nitish,

Another solution is sterilisation of the male monkeys. “Although such a project will be cost-intensive, in the long run it is the only sustainable solution,” says another resident. 



Drums fall silent
Traditional musicians have decided not to play instruments at official functions to mark their protest
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 30
Artisans, craftsmen and traditional musicians have joined hands to demand that that the state government constitutes a commission to preserve their trades.

Voicing concern at a convention of Vishvakarma Shilipkari Jagriti Mission against the neglect by the government, the members demanded that adequate steps be taken to ensure that artists fallen on bad days lead a life of dignity.

“For preserving hill music instruments, steps should be taken to declare Dhol, Nagara and Narsingh as state instruments. The performers played a key role in the statehood agitation. However, their contribution has not been recognised so far,” said Dheraj Shah, city coordinator of the mission.

In the traditional hill society, musicians played a pivotal role in social life of the people.The "dhol" player led religious processions. The temple gates opened amidst the beating of drums. But with rural life taking a back seat, several musicians and artisans have been left to fend for themselves.

“Though casteism never raised it’s ugly head in the state, when we draw comparison with other states, artisans, musicians and craftsmen were part of a distinct community referred to as kolis. The problem became aggravated with large-scale transformation in society,” explained Dr DR Purohit, an art historian and art and with HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar.

The members owing allegiance to the mission have decided not to play their instruments. “To make our point, we have called upon our members to boycott official ceremonies and not to play our instruments as a mark of protest,” informed Nathi Lal, a noted drummer of the state. 



Toying with market sentiment
Tribune news service

Dehradun, January 30
With ban on Chinese toys coming into effect, toy business in the city is under great stress, causing loss to both shopkeepers and customers. Chinese toys being both attractive and economical were preferred over Indian toys that are costly and lack in appeal.

"Following the ban, the prices of Chinese toys has increased,”said Anil, owner of a toy shop. “More than the shopkeepers, it’s the customer who will be at a loss because toys will now cost him double the price and there is every danger of these being sold on the black market,” said Jitendra Aggarwal, owner of Bombay Toys and Plastics.

A toy that would cost Rs 250 is now being sold at Rs 400. "Whenever people come to my shop they demand Chinese toys which are attractive and affordable prices. This ban for six months doesn’t seem a good idea because Indian toys are not in demand. In fact, the ban will encourage black marketing because customers who want Chinese toys will pay anything for the same,” argued Kapil Arora of Art Home Gift Shop.

“Even after a hike in the cost of Chinese toys people will prefer Chinese toys. For a few months we will manage with our stock and hope the situation will get better after that,” said a salesman with Balaji Wholesalers.

There are some shopkeepers who believe that this is a sensible decision of the government that will benefit the Indian toy market. " The ban won’t make much of a difference but it is good as it will give a boost to the domestic market,” said Ravinder, owner of Barkhat Singh and Sons.

“I’m in the toy business since 50 years and when there were no Chinese toys, we did not do good business. But at least now people will value Indian toys,” said Jitendra Aggarwal. 



A biryani more than Mughlai
Divya Semwal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 30
Biryani holds a special place in Mughlai food and is known for its aroma and rich taste. Dehradun foodies relish mouth watering Biryani at some of the famous biryani joints serving the authentic dish. Apart from many local food joints, the city also has some high-end restaurants serving appetising biryani.

Nirulas, the restaurant known for its ice creams, pizzas and burgers organised a biryani festival named as ‘Nirulas Biryani a Feast for Kings’. “We started this biryani fest from January 1 and with paneer biryani for vegetarians we are also serving non-veg biryanis.

Our main aim behind this festival was to offer something different to our customers and till now the response has been very good,” said MP Singh, manager Nirulas.

Inam-ullah building, a muslim locality has some old and famous Mughlai food joints serving lip smacking authentic biryani. “We offer chicken, mutton and beef biryani here and with non-veg delicacies like nihari, bhuna ghost, pasanda curry our biryani is the most popular among all.

People from all communities come and enjoy real Mughlai food here,” said Mohd. Rehan of Wali Mohammad restaurant. “Our beef biryani is one of the most favourite dishes of our customers and because of it’s affordable price, Rs 20 (full plate), people get a wholesome diet,” said Salman of Shamsoos’s restaurant.

Another Mughal restaurant is pretty famous in the area from past six years. “With normal mutton and chicken biryani, we even got famous Hyderabadi biryani cooked in traditional Hyderabadi style.

Where mutton and chicken are cooked with rich raw garam masalas, Hyderabadi biryani is cooked with dry fruits,” said Atif Sheikh, owner of a Mughlai restaurant.

Another famous joint for biryani is ‘My wife’s Place’ is serving varieties of biryanis. “We serve murg Peshawar biryani, ghost Hyderabadi biryani and along with non-veg options people even enjoy our rich vegetable biryani. Veg-biryani comes for Rs 120 per plate whereas non-veg comes for Rs 175,” said Abhilaksh, manager of My Wife’s Place.

“I love Muglai cuisine and whenever I want to have biryani I either go to the famous joints at Inam-ullah building or some the other restaurants at Rajpur road,” said Arif Raaza a college student.



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