NEW DELHI: In 2011, the 50,000 residents of Savda Ghevra resettlement colony—11 km from Mundka—were struggling with water crisis. The area had no direct water supply and used to get two water tanks as their daily supply, which was not enough to meet their needs. Women, who faced difficulty in doing the daily chores without water, gathered up to find a solution to the problem. This is how Harshingar Active Women Cadre, which now has 100 active members, came into existence.
Group leader Urmila, 46, says, “We filed our first Right to Information (RTI) to find out how many water tankers we were entitled to get per day.”
The reply to the RTI revealed that 88 tankers per day were allotted for the area, but the supplier was sending very less and that too only twice or thrice a week. The dwellers finally celebrated victory in 2012, when the authorities came into action, and fitted all water tankers with GPS trackers, reducing the chances of frauds. Since that day, this women gang never looked back and had has filed 600 RTIs and given 200 representations till now.
“Then we filed an RTI for construction of toilets. Now, the sanitation workers clean the area daily. We have got proper bus service, e-rickshaw service, women help desk and a dispensary,” says Urmila. "Youngsters, who are more educated, are joining the group. We hold monthly meetings, where members discuss issues of the area, and an action plan is made. Members are given task of filing RTIs.” The group is now learning to file RTIs online. Victory, one after another, inspired hundreds of others to seek answers from the authorities for their rightful share.
The main role in awakening the people was played by an NGO called Marg that used to hold camps on legal education for the community people. “Motivated by the NGO, we formed a group.” Savda Ghevra is the first colony to get water ATMs in Delhi. There are 14 ATMs in each block.
“As a result of filing RTIs, we have started holding self-defence workshops for our kids and women. Area has got a hospital that will be opened for public soon,” she says.
Now their mission is to get rid of problems like dowry harassment. “We are surveying the cases and working on prevention of child marriage,” says Pooja, a cadre member.