NEW DELHI: “We’re born roadside and will die here someday,” was the fatalistic take of 42-year-old Sharkar on the way of life of the city’s Gadia Lohar nomadic community. Sitting on a charpoy by the road near his humble hut in the Govindpuri area, Shankar said he had never set food outside Delhi.
He said what he rued the most about the manner of living community is the lack of dignity. Fear of demolition or eviction, lack of proper housing, dwindling business and an uncertain future gives the community sleepless nights, he said.
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Till 2010, they were settled in Kalkaji depot, only to be relocated later. “We have no support from the government to improve our lives,” Shankar added.
Most of the Gadia Lohar settlements in Delhi have not been surveyed and recognised by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), says a report by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).
It was only after the advocacy group took up the issue with the Delhi government that the DUSIB was found doing a survey on the settlements on Tuesday.
In many of the settlements surveyed by HLRN, people reported they were harassed by urban local bodies and police and threatened with demolition of their homes.
In this Govindpuri settlement, education is a far cry for most of the children. Asked if she attends school, 11-year-old Manisha responded in the negative.
Only few children go to school. “Low awareness level among parents, discrimination and lack of access to schools are the primary reasons why children in the community are not willing to pursue education,” Ashok Pandey, convener, Gadia Lohar Sangharsh Samiti, said.