New Delhi: Four years ago, Gulshan Begum and her family were driven out of their home on the banks of the Yamuna by the state government. They were given homes in Bawana, a resettlement colony 40 km away from the city. But even today, Gulshan Begum is struggling to get basic amenities.
“There’s no water or electricity here. It’s not even clean around here,” Gulshan Begum says.
Activists say that resettlement was provided to only one out of four families evicted from the Yamuna Pushta slums. And today, even after four years of moving into the model resettlement colony at Bawana, residents are still struggling for livelihood.
“The government's official figure is about 22000 families. Our count is much higher. It's about 36000 families. Of these 36000, only 9000 got plots in Bawana. The remaining 27000 just got kicked out and nobody knows where they are,” director, Hazards Centre, Dunu Roy says.
Mohammed Shabbir works as a contract rickshaw puller. The forced move to Bawana, he says, robbed him of his livelihood.
“It takes me 4-5 hours to go to and come back from work. Now I have to start from here at about seven. By the time I get there, it’s 9.30. All that I earn, gets spent on travel,” Mohammed Shabbir says.
Others like Aarti Devi are worse off. Aarti is still struggling to get the plot of land she is entitled to. She has the required documents, she's paid 5000 rupees to the Delhi Development Authority, but she still has no home of her own.
“I have demand letter, ration card, survey number and I’ve already given them the money. But I still haven’t been given the plot. Whenever I talk to the authorities, they tell me to come back later. This has been going on for the last three years,” Aarti Devi says.
“The latest count is 800 families who are squatting outside the resettlement colonies… who have all the requisite legal documents but have not been given plots. And people have been sitting there in the sun for the last four years, just waiting for plots. I think this is completely inhuman that a government can be so inhuman to ignore the plight of these people,” Dunu Roy adds.
The government, however, still insists the situation is not as bad as it looks.
“There may be a few glitches, thousands were removed, most of them have settled very well. I wouldn't say the picture is absolutely what it ought to be but it certainly is not bad, certainly is not,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikhsit says.
Bawana is just one of many places where Delhi's poor are left out of its vision for change. The challenge for this historical city today is to continue to grow for all its people, to respect its environment, to realise that every one of its citizens has their own dream for Dilli.