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Mussoorie fast becoming a concrete jungle

ANI, May 1, 1998

MUSSOORIE: Mussoorie, known as the `Queen of Hills’ and an important tourist destination, is fast becoming a concrete jungle because of construction of multi-storey buildings.

Builders in collusion with government officials are constructing illegal multi-storey buildings. And 28 new buildings have been constructed since December 1996 in total disregard to an order of the Supreme Court which banned all construction activities in Mussoorie.

“There is a caucus of politicians, officials and mafia”, said Dewendra Kumar, a local resident. “Powerful builders are continuing with the construction work”.

Over the past few years, a large number of trees have been felled in Mussoorie to clear the terrain for commercial purposes.

These construction activities threaten to convert the city into a concrete jungle.

There are about 400 estates in Mussoorie, out of which 216 are notified forest areas. Under the forest conservation laws, no new construction can take place nor can the trees be cut in these notified forest areas.

It was in 1980 that the first lot of builders arrived in Mussoorie from various parts of the country and it soon became a haven for private builders.

But the hotel lobby says the economy of the hill resort will be derailed if no new hotels and buildings are allowed.

Ram Kumar, vice-president of Mussoorie Hotels Association, says development of the city is must if it has to attract tourists.

According to statistics revealed by the state tourism department, about two million tourists visit Mussoorie annually. The town has been witnessing an increase of about 5 to 7 per cent tourist arrivals every year.

“More than five thousand labourers have already left the city because they became jobless as they did not have any other means of livelihood”, said Kumar.

“In the near future, those who are involved directly or indirectly with the tourism industry will be affected”.

Dehra Dun’s District Magistrate PK Mohanty admits construction of illegal buildings in Mussoorie and says he has already sent his report to the court.

“Mussoorie-Dehradun Development Authority has the powers to allow constructions or pass the designs of the buildings”, Mr Mohanti said expressing his helplessness.