VISAKHAPATNAM: Over 10,000 staff of the Indian Railways and their families residing in the quarters near the office of the divisional railway manager (DRM) face several civic issues.
Apart from poor drainage at a few places, the residents complain that the youngsters from the nearby slums have made the vacant spaces in the colony centres for boozing and gambling.
The colony, built decades ago with strong concrete structures, was well maintained by the residents and was surrounded by huge trees especially of eucalyptus and banyan.
The colony, one of the largest, is haunted by the Hudhud devastation. Despite restoration works, lack of proper maintenance and hygiene are forcing the residents to shift to private houses. In the Hudhud cyclone, the decades old trees were uprooted and fencing, constructed by the residents themselves, was completely damaged.
“In the name of development, they removed the fencing and cement flooring was constructed in the backyards but no fence was constructed. Many of us have open backyards. We find it difficult to go outstation with the threat of robbers. Despite many warnings, the youngsters indulge in gambling under trees,” said Padma (name changed), wife of a railway employee.
Adding to this, the colony has a fully grown unwanted plants and bushes which are home to insects and snakes. “With unhygienic surroundings, come evening we have to keep windows and doors closed to prevent snakes and inspects barging in, while mosquitoes are ubiquitous. Living like a one big family, for lack of proper maintenance many 25-year-old residents have shifted to rented houses outside,” said Lakshmi, a resident of the railway quarters.
There was a huge compound wall constructed long ago to protect the colony from outsiders and give it a distinct identity. But with the residents finding it difficult to go to the roadside shops, a small entrance was made. Residents said that despite many complaints, there is hardly any security during nights.
There were also situations when unknown persons from slum areas hide behind the washrooms. “It was two-three times, we have observed some unknown person hiding behind the backyard during night. Fed up with asking for proper security, we are constructing fencing by ourselves,” said Srinivas, another railway employee.
While works for new blocks are in progress, some damaged and unused buildings have become hubs for anti-social activities at night. Many houses face problems with clogged drains and overflowing waste water on the roads. The residents said that despite many complaints, no one takes action.