INDORE: Asha Wagh, a community leader who juggles with many tasks in a day, is critical of houses built for urban poor in the city underValmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY). She said houses are not gender-friendly and violate guidelines of United Nations (UN) on development-based eviction and displacement.
Houses are built under the VAMBAY, part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission programme (JNNURM) have no overhead tanks. As a result, women have no access to water in homes. They have to carry water physically up to third floor, which adversely affects their health. Besides, cases of sexual harassment and crime against women have gone up ever since they have been relocated to the city’s periphery.
According to UN guidelines, after an eviction, competent authorities shall ensure that evicted persons or groups, especially those who are unable to provide for themselves have safe and secure access to essential food, potable drinking water and sanitation, basic shelter and housing, essential medical services.
Housing rights activist Anand Lakhan said houses violate international norms putting women safety and health to great risk. “The initial plan has been so designed that there is no accessibility to water in the house. There is common boring water line system and tanks are in place and women fetch water up to third floors, this puts their health at great risk,” asserted Anand.
A resident in one of the VAMBAY house in Scheme number 140, 46-year old Laxmi Barnawal has to make several rounds to fetch water up to third floor. “It is a difficult for me to lift heavy drums and buckets up to third floor. Since, my husband goes to work early. I have to do this work. I have already developed problem in knees,” she said.
Newly married Sapna Bhalse, 24, is sometimes helped by male members of the family. On most days, she has to arrange water. For most women, problems compound during the days of menstruation and despite their inability to do laborious task they have to perform. Sangeeta’s neighbour Chanda takes almost two hours a day to arrange water.
Pratul Jain, branch manager of Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), which works in these areas, told it is a matter of concern. “We will carry a survey in near future. Come to think of situation if there is only one woman in the family and she gets pregnant. And it is about health issue of thousands of women living in these houses,” Jain added.