Millennium Post

Slumming it and how!

The nodal agency for rehabilitation of slums in Delhi – Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) – in a candid confession to Millennium Post has accepted that it could not relocate even a single slum from Lutyens’ Delhi in the last five years. The agency was adamant to conceal its failure but nudged to
disclosure by a slew of RTI queries.

‘There was no relocation done in last five years in the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area,’ said DUSIB, in a reply to an RTI query. Senior officers of the agency including Chief Executive Officer Amarnath and Deputy Director (Rehabilitation) A K Tiwari refused to answer related RTI queries and discuss the matter any further.

While the NDMC, in a separate RTI query, replied, ‘The responsibility for relocating JJ clusters is of the land owning agency with the help of DUSIB. The agency comes under the administration of Delhi government and has been solely assigned to improve and rehabilitate slums in Delhi’.

Seventeen out of 31 slums are situated on the residential land, of which seven belong to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), five to Delhi Development Authority (DDA), two to Indian Railway and one each to NDMC, Army and Flying Club respectively. In addition, around 60 clusters have occupied a 1,500 sqm commercial plot of CPWD marked for retail and general business behind Palika Dham and Hotel Niccco at Bangla Sahib Road. Five slums are situated on five major land pieces marked for sports complex among which two belong to the Army and one each to the Air Force, National Sports Council of India and Land and Development office (L&DO). Out of the remaining eight slums, three are on a redeveloped land, two on CPWD, one on DDA, two on institutional land of CPWD, one marked for Green Area by CPWD and one land market for government office by L&DO. Only one slum with 14 clusters behind Vishwa Yuvak Kendra at Mother Teresa Crescent is situated on a drain at Kushak nallah.

‘In 2006, a committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) had recommended for an in-situ rehabilitation of these slums. Subsequently, an amendment was made in the
Master Plan of 2021,’ said A K Jain, former Planning commissioner of DDA. ‘If we provide economically weaker section (EWS) category flats for the slum-dwellers, over one-third of the land will be freed for commercial use,’ he added, advocating Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of development. In 2008, both the MoUD and Delhi government had promised to make Lutyens’ area free from slums before the onset of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 2010.

The total value of the around 1.24 lakh sqm land on which these 31 slums are situated in Lutyens’ area comes around Rs 8,775 crore, which has been calculated on the basis of present circle rate of NDMC area- Rs 6.45 lakh per sqm for residential and Rs 19.35 lakh per sqm for commercial land.

One slum - Tughlak Lane Camp is adjuscent to the official residence of incumbent Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath. This slum is also backyard of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's bungalow.

The four slums at Kali Bari Marg are within one km distance from the residence of New Delhi MP and former Union Urban Development Minister Ajay Maken. DDA occupies the maximum land and hence, the largest slum of Lutyens is situated on their territory. CPWD is the second in the list with 14,400 sqm of land costing Rs 1,215 crore and supporting 13 slums.

‘Throwing the labour-class on the borders of Delhi is not a viable solution as it cuts them from the periphery of the city,’ said Shakti Sinha, retired IAS officer. These slums in Lutyens’ Delhi that house our policy-makers, top executives and judiciary shows mirror to several projects of the Center and Delhi government like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 and Rajiv Rattan Awas Scheme of Delhi government.

Amidst all the chaos, open threats from officers make life hell for slum-dwellers. ‘The officers threaten us to demolish our huts on security grounds or whenever we try to raise our voice,’ said Ashok Gupta, pradhan (head) of a slum at Kali Bari Marg. The residents and pradhans of most of the slums in Lutyens’ Delhi trace the origin of their slums to the seventies. ‘I was born and brought up here in this slum,’ said Neeraj Kumar Gupta (35), a resident in a slum at Kali Bari Marg.

As per the voter list 15,000 to 16,000 voters of Lutyens Delhi inhabitate in these slums. As you enter you will find children relieving themselves in drains on both sides of narrow lanes. The economic profile of slum dwellers – domestic helps, workers, servants, hawkers, and daily wage labourers – is sufficient to explain their very existence here. Their small huts are made of clay, bridges or just steel sheets covered by polythene.

‘Political leaders come once in five years to appeal for votes,’ said Savita (67).

The author is principal correspondent at Millennium Post
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