Following the Uttrakhand urban development department’s go ahead, on Monday, for the acquisition of almost 2000-acre British era tea gardens, history buffs and residents fear the move will destroy the place’s nostalgic charm. Developed in the early 1830s, tea gardens around the valley, once known for its unique aroma, taste and flavour, are already dying a slow death in the absence of modern machinery, manpower and adqeuate infrastructure. Their acquisition for building a smart city would be a final last nail on the coffin for Dehradun tea, said aggrieved locals.
“The Dehradun basmati no longer exists today because of mindless concretization in the past two years. Now, if tea gardens are ravaged then it would be the end for Dehradun tea too,” said Lokesh Ohri, a local heritage enthusiast.
He also said the British administration thought of developing tea gardens in Dehradun even before Assam came into the picture. “The tea plant seeds were brought from a botanical garden in Saharanpur for initial plantation. Quality of the leaves were unique becasue of the region’s weather and processing methods applied at the time. In the past, Dehradun tea was famous worldwide. The machines used today are antiquated. The government should have acted to revive the gardens for the development of both industry and tourism,” he added.
“We are disappointed at the state government’s initiative to acquire the gardens. We are holding a series of protests against the move. We are meeting on Wednesday to plan a strategy,” said Champa Devi, coordinator, Dehradun Tea Garden Association.