http://www.freevisuals4u.com/photos/2013/01/slums-in-chandigarh.jpgY.S. RANA , CHANDIGARH : Just a stone’s throw away from shinning India’s posh localities lies a colony, one of the biggest clusters of Chandigarh poised languidly alongside a grimy pond strangled by water hyacinths and rife with fetid smells of rotting garbage piling up for the past more than a year, Colony No 5 near the posh locality of cooperative house building flats neither has the dignity of a village nor the claustrophobia of an urban slum.
City has recorded an increase of more than seven times in population since 1961—highest growth rate among Class I cities of the countries and is estimated to increase another four-fold by 2021 at the current rate. More than 25 per cent slums in city are in highly vulnerable conditions—lacking basic facilities, stated the survey.
As per official records the total unauthorized slum population is 70,000 with 21,385 jhuggis. During the last decade squatter population has increased 130 per cent against 36 per cent in crease in urban population.
The administration has identified only eight locations for slum rehabilitation in the city. These locations include Dhanas, Maloya-I, Mauli Jagran-I and II, Sector 49, Sector 38 (W), Ram Darbar and Malaya. About 19360 flats are being constructed at these sites.
So many influential people enjoying the facilities of the well built roads, pruned gardens, lush green tree, driving swanky cars look at but cannot see the cluster. It is just a faceless, down-and-out settlement of 4000 match-box tenements promised to provide one-room dwelling units. Over the years, their hope dried up. Many are either jobless or underemployed. Most of the residents cannot read or write. Unaware of the India shining and the vagaries of the large global economic forces that have conspired to take their livelihoods away, they are like flash flood victims who cannot find way out.
“Money is never plentiful but it enough to keep the kitchen fires burning,” said S.N. Mishra. “Out of work for the past six months and having not paid even for basic needs, Ram Parshad pulled a rickshaw after hiring it for Rs 30 and earned Rs 60-70 per day. Tired of unemployment, many youths of the colony now work as carpenters or hawkers.
Condition in the colony shows the enigmatic functioning of our civic agencies. “Sulabh’ latrines provided in the colony have blocked since long but still were being used, said Mishra. Mounds of garbage continue to pile up and so far I remembered for the past one year, garbage has not been lifted, said he.
Step into any type of clogged street has the same story of slums. Mounds of garbage, blocked ‘Sulabh’ latrines, leaking sewer pipes and drinking water, puddles breeding ground of mosquitoes sharing the same space and left unattended for months. “This is a system that keeps everybody busy engaged and working yet everything stays as it was,” said another resident of the colony.
He could not have had the foggiest idea that right here, in the Capital of two States—Punjab and Haryana– that claim to be City Beautiful has faceless civic body that is more than capable of being more inscrutable. It is a bone jarring experience for any one moving in the colony and those compelled to walk through the most unhygienic conditions everyday. Residents have to do everything to escape being plastered with stinking mud every time they step out.
That is the state of affairs of every slums in Chandigarh; plenty of uncomfortable questions but no easy answers.