Dehradun ranks poorly in every urban parameter survey

Dehradun fares poorly in all the rankings and indexes done in recent years and little is being done to improve its state.

Whoever forms the new Uttarakhand government in March will have several important urban issues to deal with. The first part of this article had given 10 specific suggestions for the new government to consider in its efforts to make urban development in the state sustainable and inclusive. In this second part, we again take a look at 10 data-driven competitions of the central government, which explicitly expose the poor performance of Dehradun and the state’s urban frameworks.

Swachh Survekshan 2021

This was the world’s largest sanitation survey which covered 4320 cities across India. The results, announced in November 2021, saw Indore getting the top spot as the ‘Cleanest City’ for the fifth consecutive year.

The survey methodology looks at cities and towns in two ways: a national level overview for cities and a zonal overview for smaller towns. The evaluation was done under three metrics: Service Level Progress (SLP); Citizen Voice and Certifications.

While the SLP mainly looks at segregation, collection and processing aspects, the Citizen Voice component is feedback from citizens. The certification metric grades cities on the basis of their being garbage free and open defecation free (ODF status). Total marks add up to 6000.

The survey included 87 cities and towns from Uttarakhand. All of which together scored 1531 marks out of 6000, which was 541 points lower than the national average of 2072 marks. When compared with other states, Uttarakhand was ranked 15 out of 28 on the state-wide average of Solid Waste Management rankings. And was ranked 16 out of 28 states on the state-wide Service Level Progress and Certification scores. Uttarakhand’s ranking on Citizens Voice was even lower, 18 out of 28 states.

Read more: How can India move towards more sustainable waste management in tourist cities?

The results yielded a mixed bag for the six biggest cities of Uttarakhand — Dehradun, Roorkee, Haridwar, Haldwani, Kashipur and Rudrapur. Ranked 82 amongst 369 cities across the country in the 1-10 lakh population category, Dehradun managed to enter the “100 Top Cities” category for the first time in five years. In fact, no city in Uttarakhand had ever achieved this rank in any of the earlier editions. 

In comparison to the bigger cities, several smaller towns have more robust waste management models. Citizen awareness remains high and these towns have managed to improve constantly on their performance. They have also been able to generate resources from the sale of dry waste to collectors and recyclers. Muni Ki Reti near Rishikesh is a good example of a small town waste management success story. It has worked hard on ensuring segregation of waste and involving the citizenry in keeping the town clean.

Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge 

While a lot of attention has been paid to the poor Swachh Survekshan rankings, results of two other national swachhata competitions have gone unnoticed. Not that the state did any better in these. Resource allocation, capacity building and citizen engagement are crucial to perform better in these competitions. 

Dehradun ranked 52 amongst 72 cities in the 3-10 lakh population category in the Safai Mitra Suraksha challenge. Apart from this, another 82 cities participated in the below three lakh population category which included six from Uttarakhand. Roorkee at 33 and Haridwar at 79 were the best and worst performing cities. Overall, the state ranked 14 amongst 20 participating states.

Garbage Free City 

No city in Uttarakhand managed to achieve a 5-star or 3-star rank in this category even as 152 cities across India received 5 stars and 3 stars. Three cities, Dehradun, Roorkee and Muni Ki Reti, out of 92 Urban Local Bodies received just 1 star. 

Nationally, 299 cities received garbage free rankings. The nine cities that got 5-star rating were Indore, Surat, New Delhi Municipal Council, Navi Mumbai, Ambikapur, Mysore, Noida, Vijayawada and Patan.

Ease of Living Index (EoLI)

This survey was launched by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) with the overall goal of finding India’s most livable and best performing cities. 

MoHUA released the EoLI index and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020 in March 2021. Rankings were announced for 111 cities which were classified in two categories: more than a million population for 49 Cities and less than a million population for 62 Cities.

The EoLI is an assessment tool based on four pillars: quality of life, economic ability, sustainability and citizen perception survey. The first three account for 70% weightage. Citizen perception got a 30% weightage.

Read more: Bulk of Dehradun’s e-waste ends up with unauthorised recyclers; here’s why

Dehradun ranked 29 out of 62 cities in the less than one million category scoring 52.41 out of 100 marks. In the sustainability pillar, Dehradun was ranked 15th. It was 33rd in citizen perception pillar, 34th in economic ability and 41st in quality of life pillar.

The EoLI is important from the point of view of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which is another area of concern not just for Dehradun but the entire state.

Municipal Performance Index (MPI)

This Index was launched as an accompaniment to the EoLI. It seeks to simplify and evaluate the complexities in local governance practice and promote transparency and accountability. It examined local government practice in municipalities across five areas: services, finance, planning, technology and governance.

Dehradun performed even more poorly in this segment and ranked 47 amongst 60 cities in the less than million population category, its worst being 59th in technology.

Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 

MoHUA in partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) established the Climate Center for Cities (C-Cube) in June 2020 with an aim to institutionalize climate actions across the country. Understanding the need for sustainable urban planning and climate informed development actions, the CSCAF was a first-of-its-kind self-assessment framework on climate relevant parameters with the intent of mainstreaming climate actions within current and future urban development policies, programs and projects.

A total of 126 cities including 100 Smart Cities, capital cities and other cities undertook the assessment in 2020. Dehradun is the only city from Uttarakhand which took part in CSCAF 2.0.

Cities were evaluated across five themes that had 28 indicators — energy and green buildings; urban planning, green cover and biodiversity; mobility and air quality; water management and waste management. Cities were awarded stars for their climate actions, 5-stars to one star in terms of being progressive even though they are yet to conduct studies to inform the adoption of climate actions.

Dehradun received the following stars for each of the five themes. Waste Management three Stars and two stars for Energy and Green Buildings. On the other three, Urban Planning, Green Cover and Biodiversity, Mobility and Air Quality and Water Management it got just one Star. The city’s overall ranking was a poor two stars.

Dehradun city
General view of Dehradun. A look at 10 data-driven competitions of the central government explicitly exposes the poor performance of Dehradun and the state’s urban frameworks. Pic Bhumesh Bharti

Public transport 

The challenges of inadequate public transport, limited parking spaces and massive increase in traffic jams are multifaceted and pose immense challenges on many levels which are bound to increase in the future.

There has been a 750% increase in the number of registered vehicles in the past 20 years. As of December 2021, there were more than 32 lakh registered vehicles in Uttarakhand.

Adequate, timely and safe public transport has failed to take off with the  state lacking integrated, multi modal transportation planning.

The existing infrastructure is unable to keep pace with the load exerted on the roads, flyovers, footpaths and parking spaces. There is an acute shortage of roadways buses in the hill districts. 

Last mile connectivity remains a critical challenge.

Read more: Mumbai, this is how you can tackle traffic jams

Traffic management 

The Traffic Police & UPES, a well-respected state university, conducted a joint study in 2019 which found that each vehicle was stranded on an average of seven to 20 minutes in a traffic jam in Dehradun on a daily basis. The study claimed that by 2025 there would be 15 lakh registered vehicles in Dehradun alone. In case of a business as usual scenario, they further asserted that each vehicle would be spending 90 minutes in a traffic jam daily by that time.

Traffic jams are a regular occurence in the plains areas like Roorkee, Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haldwani and Kashipur. The situation is even grimmer in hill towns like Nainital and Mussoorie. Frequent traffic jams on the Char Dham route leaves thousands of tourists and pilgrims stranded for hours.


There is an acute shortage of government and/or commercial parking in all cities and towns in Uttarakhand. Basement parking at commercial complexes have not taken off. Roadside parking is very common and this generates frequent traffic snarls.

The other major issue is illegal encroachments. These impact all aspects relating to public transport, traffic and parking. The condition of footpaths in most cities is deplorable. In the few places where they are functional, encroachments have taken over.

As Uttarakhand embarks on an ambitious push to further promote its tourist destinations, limited parking severely impacts its carrying capacity to attract more tourists.

Air quality

Air pollution levels have spiked significantly in Dehradun during the past several years. Vehicular traffic has a big role in the increased PM 2.5 and PM 10 pollution levels. With a big focus on tourism, air pollution levels will continue to increase over the years.

Data collection for air pollution is limited to the six major cities of Dehradun, Haridwar, Roorkee, Haldwani, Kashipur and Rudrapur. Even within Dehradun, with an estimated population in excess of 12 lakhs, there are only three air quality  monitors. It is only during the last two to three days that live pollution numbers are being displayed in the city. 

The state government needs to make greater investments in order to track, monitor and implement air friendly solutions in its cities and towns.

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