Housing promise for the needy falls flat in Delhi
Bawana society meant for EWS turns into a den of anti-socials, people suffer, even die due to unsafe living conditions
NEW DELHI: This is a tragedy. What could have been home to thousands living on the streets and slums, has not only wasted the money of taxpayers, but also become a breeding ground of criminals and drug addicts. The housing societies made 10 years ago for the economically weaker section in Bawana have turned into ghost towns. Recently, four persons, including a 9-year-old girl died after one of these buildings collapsed. It took a two-hour long operation to rescue the bodies. Two women were brought out alive from the debris.
These flats were built under Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana. However, these were lying vacant since 2012 when the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (DSIIDC) completed the construction work. The society has around 10,000 flats in three locations in Bawana.
These were built from funds received by the state government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. When The Morning Standard visited the place, it was found that they were damaged on purpose. Iron rods, supposed to hold the structure together, had been extracted.
“Boys from JJ Colony come here to consume smack and ganja and damage the walls of the society,” says Baru Ram, a security person at the society where the building collapsed. “These boys have been damaging the buildings and have taken away doors, window frames and iron rods. This place has become a hub of criminals.” Not just this. They also snatch phones of people who come here to graze cattle and the passers by. “Sometimes, these 10-12 men come with knives and pistols,” adds Baru’s aide Sanjay.
Baru and two others have been hired by DSIIDC to protect the campus. “Yesterday, we caught 2-3 boys and they were high on smack. When we called the police, they beat them up and let them go,” he adds.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer-North) Brijendra Kumar Yadav, no complaint has been received. “We can only file a case when there is a complaint or a cognizable offence. We conduct patrolling sessions. If we spot something, we take action. But we cannot deploy people to guard the premises,” says Yadav.
The Morning Standard visited some of the flats allocated to persons from the EWS group who have been living there since 2012. “We got the flats in 2012,” says Radha, whose husband is a labourer. “Earlier, we used to live in Paharganj slums and we were happy when we got this accommodation.” However, the condition of the society does not portray a picture of a place where human beings can live. The place is full of stench and drains are overflowing. “Nobody comes here to clean. Dengue and malaria have marred this society,” says Sangita.
Residents complain that they do not have a proper waterline and have to buy water. “We have electricity but we do not have drinking water. No one has come to fix this,” she adds. According to a Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board official who wishes to remain anonymous, the flats were supposed to be allocated to EWS people, but they were not after a spat between the Centre and Delhi government.
“The flats were made under the scheme in 2012 and in 2013, elections happened. The Union Urban Development Ministry was not sure who would allocate the flats. In 2017-2018, it was decided that Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) will allocate the flats. Then the Central government stated that instead of flat allocation, only rental agreements will be done and then the project was in limbo for
two more years.”