Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who has come under fire of environmental activists for his plans to acquire Dehradun tea garden land for development of Smart Cities, has to handle the sensitive issue politically and diplomatically.
Rawat said that the government had twice searched for an alternative land but could not find any other than the Dehradun tea gardens. “We had no option but to acquire the Dehradun tea garden land for the Smart City project,” he said, adding that as Chief Minister he had only two choices, either accept the Centre’s offer of Smart City or forgo the project.
Addressing the concerns of the people that the Smart City project would be a high value city meant only for the wealthy wanting real estate, he assured that such views are wrong.
He said property development in Smart City would help the economically backward sections of the society who could expect to get cheap houses. He also pointed out that his government is concerned over the rising trend of environment activism damaging developmental initiatives.
He assured that real-estate or infrastructure development will not be at the cost of the environment. Rawat has also categorically assured sceptics that a committee has been constituted to ascertain the feasibility of Smart City planned on tea estate land.
He assured that people would not be evicted unless and until government provides alternative home prior to eviction. “The price of a house in the planned Smart City has been kept lower than the market price which will benefit people who wish to own a house in Dehradun but can’t afford the price.”