Slum-free Delhi by 2010 a pipedream

June 4th, 2008 - 12:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The Indian capital will continue to be dotted by dingy, dirty shantytowns by the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as the government may be able to churn out only around 100,000 new houses for slum dwellers by then as against the required figure of 800,000. “There are 860 slum clusters and each of them has 100 to 1,000 huts. The estimated population is 3.5-4 million and around 800,000 units may be required to accommodate them,” Delhi’s Urban Development Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan told IANS.

Chauhan said it would not be possible to provide residences to all slum dwellers by 2010, but around 100,000 huts around the various sites earmarked for the Games would certainly be taken care of.

The government is trying to beautify the city by 2010 as the Games are expected to bring in thousands of foreign tourists. The slums present a grim picture, with people living there without basic facilities like water and sanitation.

Chauhan said under the various housing schemes of the government, 400,000 houses would be provided to slum dwellers in future. However, the required number is around 800,000.

Chauhan said the process to invite applications for the first 10,000 houses from slum dwellers would begin shortly. “The real picture will emerge only after we get applications for the 10,000 units.”

These houses are being built under the central government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and will be given to those whose annual income is not more than Rs.60,000 per annum.

The slum residential complexes under the central government’s Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojana have been planned in the city’s peripheral areas like Narela, Najafgarh, Shahdara and Jahangirpuri.

These will have basic amenities such as schools, parks, transport, drinking water, electricity and shops for daily needs, state government officials said.

“Wherever land is available, the government will construct multi-storey housing apartments for them. The first 10,000 units will be constructed in Bawana. It will be ready for allotment by August 2008,” said Chauhan.

Right now, the city’s Yamuna riverbed and the embankments of a few major storm water drains like those at Najafgarh and Barapulla house nearly 100,000 huts. Residents use open areas for defecation and the untreated waste is discharged into the river.

“It is sheer insensibility on the government’s part not to ameliorate the woes of these people. These are chronically overcrowded and lack the most basic amenities,” said Anand Kumar, professor of sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

“The benefits of India’s economic empowerment are not percolating down to them.”

The city’s mayor and chairperson of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Arti Mehra, underlined the need for a proactive approach to make the capital slum free.

“Providing accommodation to some 3.5-4 million people living in slums is not easy. There should be a deadline to construct the houses.”

The Planning Commission estimates a shortage of 25 million houses for the urban poor in the next five years.

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