Bawana colony to wait longer for rights

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NEW DELHI: Relocated from a slum in Saraswati Vihar in 2006, Saroj Devi now camps in a tattered makeshift jhuggi (hutment) in a vacant plot at the Bawana resettlement colony in northwest Delhi. Despite the sub-human conditions in most lanes, around 60 families wait in desperation for their allotment slips promised during the relocation.

There are many more in several other blocks but what sets these 60 families apart is that with the hope of living with dignity dying out, they have started collecting a different slip—from the cremation ground situated close to the Bawana JJ resettlement colony. These slips are proof of the dear ones that these families have lost ever since relocating here. They now want these slips to reach the authorities as a reminder that the agonizing wait and the daily fight for survival is killing them.

At least 20 such slips have been collected and delivered to a voluntary organization hazards centre. The families hope that the organization will send these to the officials concerned so that they get to know the residents’ plight. Saroj Devi points at her six children and tells that her husband died earlier this year after their makeshift hut caught fire. She now lives off Rs 3,000 earned from factories in the Bawana industrial area.

TOI visited Bawana on a day the Congress-led Delhi government was preparing to announce the “freehold ownership rights to 45 resettlements most of which came up around 1970s”. Bawana resettlement is not part of the list as officials from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board says that it is a recent settlement that started shaping up just about a decade ago. This settlement and many others that belong to the 21st century may get covered at a later stage.

Residents here make do with homes without water supply lines and the sewer system is still a far cry. Electricity polls mushroom precariously all over as residents complain of inflated bills.

At a road in F Block of G8 Pocket, heaps of muck from the drains lay dumped on roads. Residents point out that this road was worse as the stormwater drains were getting mixed with sewage. “Elections are near so the MLA has got these drains cleaned. We don’t have a sewer nor drinking water,” said Yashpal, a resident, indicating at small pipe heads jutting out from the ground as the only source of water. This raw untreated groundwater flows onto the road, mixing with drain water. Children crisscrosses the piles of filth while making their way home from an overcrowded school with 150 children in each class.

It is in Bawana that many families from the infamous Yamuna Pushta relocation stay in five blocks. There are 14 blocks in all and people from west and northwest occupy most of the other blocks.


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