Published in ‘The Hindu’- JAIPUR, October 15, 2012
An awareness drive launched by two voluntary groups in the slum colonies of Jaipur has revealed women’s struggle for getting widow and old age pension benefits and glaring deficiencies in the maintenance of health and hygiene standards. The campaign also provided the slum dwellers with an opportunity to raise their voice against lack of civic amenities.
The latest interaction with the residents was held at Baiji Ki Kothi slum in Jhalana Doongari area of eastern Jaipur over the week-end. Over 30 women came together to protest against the “humiliation” they were facing while trying to get their basic rights. Women said the officers were not willing to hear their grievances or resolve the issues confronting them.
Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) programme officer Tripti Sharma and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) members Deepmala Malhotra and Gopal Ram Verma interacted with the slum dwellers to apprise them of the official schemes for housing, infrastructure development, social welfare and provision for basic amenities.
Kailashini, a 35-year-old widow living with her four children, told the activists that she had been trying to get the widow pension for the past eight years, but her case was “entangled in [the] official maze” despite the completion of all legal formalities. Mangali Devi and Lalita Devi had similar stories to tell.
Ms. Sharma said these women had approached the ward member of their area several times, but he was unable to help them out.
“Our drive has made us realise that slum development cannot be done in isolation by high-flying consultants or technocrats. The involvement of locals to address the existing issues is a crucial component of the planning process,” said Ms. Sharma.
PRIA has been trying through the awareness drive to strengthen the voice of the urban poor and enable them to take part in the process of planning for their slums. Ms. Sharma said the interaction had helped the two groups in getting first-hand account of the issues at the grassroots and finding out low level of awareness about basic rights
‘Slum development cannot be done in isolation’