By Nidhi Singh nee Batra, PRIA
Jairam Ramesh is seeking UNDP’s help for ‘greening’ the rural development. Green outcomes would encompass efforts to improve the quality of the ecosystem-water in surface bodies and strengthening water cycle, improving quality of vegetative cover, improving extent and quality of soil cover, arresting and reversing soil degradations .
But who is ‘Greening’ Urban Development??
One strategy that is known as a curative tool of green development is to ask for a clean-green city – i.e. remove the slums! One more such incidence is now being seen in Delhi.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has floated tenders for hiring consultants to initiate in situ rehabilitation — situated in the existing place or position — of 20 slum clusters in the city.
Work has already begun in Kathputli Colony in West Delhi under a public-private partnership and tenders will soon be floated for construction of multi-storeyed blocks in Kalkaji. Slum clusters at Kusumpur Pahari near Vasant Kunj, Ashok Vihar and Shalimar Bagh will form part of the project.
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But Subedar Munna Lal, a senior resident of the Kusumpahari slum cluster near Vasant Vihar in south Delhi, said: “We don’t want to go anywhere. We don’t want the flats that the Delhi government has promised the slum-dwellers. We want to stay here if the problem of erratic supply of drinking water is addressed.”
Some of the residents of Kusum Pahari are domestic servants in houses in Vasant Vihar. Others work as unskilled laborers in a market located within 1km from their houses. The corporation has provided clean water through community stand pipes each of which serves a certain number of families. Corporation also maintains higher secondary school and a playground. Two voluntary organizations located near the slum provide medical aid. The cluster has several wards each with its own ward leader who ensures sanitation within it. Thus, the slum has an organization similar to that of a village. The older residents claim that the cluster is built on a village of the same name viz. Kusum Pahari. The word ‘pahari’ means that the slum is located in a stony area. The residents of Vasant Vihar however claim that most of the thefts in their colony are committed by people living in this slum.It is also known that Kusumpahari, has nearly 20 illegal liquor shops with a juvenile addiction rate of 40 percent that includes abuse of narcotic substances.
This is also the site where the ‘Vasant Kunj’ Malls are constructed. These malls faced a battle over the Environment Impact Assessment and the work was also stopped for a while. But only for too short a while, and after being claimed as ‘planned’ development, the requisite permission was granted. Both Kusum Pahari and the Malls are sitting on the precious Southern Ridge of Delhi, one with massive foundation, large footprint, deep basements – other as a village, now dependent on its sorroundings.
Kusum Pahari – Slum on the Southern Ridge, Photo credits@ Nidhi Batra
Green both I say!!!