Living a hard life in unauthorised colonies, residents are denied basic facilities like roads, water, and electricity. Fifty-six years ago, Delhi had 110 unauthorised colonies, housing nearly 221,000 people. Today, it has 1,797 of them. Stories of residents living in such colonies.
Raj Mandal, a resident of Lal Kuan, an unauthorised colony in South Delhi bathes once in a week because of a shortage of water. His colony does not have a water connection. The residents survive using Delhi Jal Board’s water tanker, which comes once in a week.
“We get a water tanker once or twice in a week. We are not provided with any facility from the government, we get electricity from some private players, which charge us Rs 12 per unit while the actual charge is rupees four,” said Mandal. The colony does not have a garbage collection facility either. No-one comes to them to pick up their garbage and the residents are left with no choice but to throw it in the open plots and nearby river bodies.
“Nobody does anything for us; we have to do everything ourselves – from cleaning the sewers to keeping the roads clean or arranging water for ourselves. The politicians just come here at the time of elections, begging for votes but after it gets over they are nowhere to be seen,” he further added.
Due to lack of a government electrical connection, many residents are involved in electricity theft to avoid paying hefty amounts to private players. This has resulted in many incidents of death due to electric shock.
“Last year some boys of the colony climbed on an electric pole to check disruptions in their connection. They were not trained and didn’t wear any safety gear. While repairing the connection they got electrocuted and died. That’s our condition, and I believe nothing is going to change,” said Vikram Singh, another resident of Lal Kaun.
In Rama Vihar, another unauthorised colony in North West Delhi, residents were protesting against the lack of facilities. A crowd gathered at Vedpal Sharma’s house, the man who had sold the plots to the residents. This colony too lacked the basic facilities.
Sahil Verma, a resident of the colony said: “We don’t have any water, sewer, garbage collection facility since we moved in here and that was 17 years ago. All the residents have built a sewage collection hole beneath the house. When it gets filled, we call the sweepers and get it cleaned in every two to three months.”
“We are treated as third class citizens. We all want to get out but can’t because of the high property rates. I challenge any politician in India to come here and manage to live here for just two days. They will realise the pain that we go through every day,” said one of the protestors.
When we contacted Vedpal regarding the protest he said, “I have sent dozens of letters asking for regularisation of our colony to our MLA and even to Chief Minister.” Rama Vihar is also a political battlefield for all the parties because of its population. At every election, they were promised these facilities, but nothing has happened.
Another unauthorised colony, Mukundpur, looked like a breeding ground for mosquitoes. “If you come here in the rainy season you will not be able to stand here because of the mosquitoes. There is no active sewage pipeline. The entire colony becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and many residents fall prey to dengue and other such diseases,” said Kawaleshwar Prasad, a resident of Mukundpur, Delhi.
Photos and Video: Rahul Satija
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