.…..and they didn’t turn up!

By Suman Bhanoo, PRIA

Crowd of 40 people from diverse age groups were waiting for their arrival. Their wrinkled faces, blurred vision had hoped that they will turn up to listen their plight. With an element of expectation slum dwellers from the Bhojpura and Rajeev Nagar slum came to attend zonal level consultation. In series of consultations PRIA conducted 2nd consultation on 25th Feb, 2013 at Mahatma Gandhi Prakritik Chikitsa Evam Yog Mahavidyalaya, Jaipur. It was another democratic initiative by PRIA to raise voice of urban poor. Vast urban slums are deprived of fundamental civic amenities, such as water, electricity and sanitation. In this specific consultation, theme was “Sanitation”. Though urban poor are facing myriad of issues but to get the logical results of consultation PRIA had chosen one issue which was supposed to be answered by the authorities. So the main objective of consultation was to provide a common platform to authorities and slum dwellers, where they can share common dialogues.  It was an attempt to implement the “face to face encounter” and PRIA was the connecting link between the two. Many of the slum dwellers work as wage laborer, they skipped their daily wage just to share their piece of problems in front of authorities. The majority of the urban poor work in the unorganized sector and are surviving on 70Rs a day or less.

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Zone Commissioner, Ward Parshad and Social Development Activist were invited to listen the plight of urban poor but nobody turned up to answer their questions. India’s government is pretty aware that poverty is a huge barrier to overcome if it is to fully develop the nation. Still they act very carelessly. It is a sheer case of irresponsibility and negligence. At the last moment invited authorities either switched off their mobile phones or made lame excuses to show their unavailability to attend consultation. Are they escaping from the questions of deprived section of society or they are just following stereotype trend of bureaucracy? A resident from Rajeev Nagar stated “A wide range of anti-poverty policies have been introduced, but all these policies are “paper policies” they have been limited to shiny and glossy sheets of paper. I will die by the time I will get to avail all these schemes”. Availing all these schemes is hurricane task. Slum dwellers want a direct encounter with authorities to know why it is so time consuming process. Why they face s countless hurdles in spite of all available documents? Why poverty in India is still ubiquitous in spite of so many schemes?

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Seems inability, frailty, subsistence, bureaucratic consolation and expectations have become fate of slum dwellers. Corridors of power are so deaf and dumb that they can’t hear loud noise of slum dwellers. 

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