Prakash Kumar Pathak from PRIA visited some of the slums in Jaipur where PRIA and her partners are doing extensive community strengthening programmes on urban poverty issues. Prakash took this opportunity to reflect upon the grave situations that these localities are struck with and also to reflect upon the contribution of PRIA and the partners.
J P Colony basti
In an earlier article on Terraurban, you read about JP Colony where a sewage drain runs right through the colony and the officials are not addressing the associated hygiene issues. This had prompted the residents to come together and make arrangements for basic amenities on their own. They pooled money to lay temporary water pipes running over the road surface and even connected a sewage line with the main open drain flowing along the slum.
However, local resident Rashid Khan said the on-surface water pipes were a mess and made it difficult for children and the elderly to walk in the dark. The slum locality, situated on a slope, is prone to such accidents with people falling over and injuring themselves. Naina Devi narrated the shortcomings of privately-laid sewage pipes, saying they were too small and choked frequently.
When Prakash visited the slum last week, the situation was no different. The councillor reported that since the coming year (2013-2014) is an election year, various issues of the basti are being discussed. Isn’t it interesting how development in urban poor areas is so intertwined with politics!
Another aspect that surfaced was how the community are taken for a ride because of their own ignorance and lack of knowledge, in this case while allotment of ‘tenure right’ or ‘patta’ to the slum dwellers. The community dwellers reported that they had put in an application on a hundred rupee stamp paper along with additional fee of Rs 50 to local advocates to draft the application for them to avail the requite patta or tenure right. However PRIA and her partner informed the community that this was not required, infact as per government orders the dwellers can file the application in plain paper with a signature or a thumb print. The ignorance and wrong information that the slum dwellers are subjected to does not permit them to avail the benefits that they do have the rights of!
The slum dwellers also informed that the applications of about 30-40% of alum dwellers have gone missing and about 60-70% have only obtained the requisite patta. Some dwellers allege that few of the community members have bribed the officials – however authenticity of the same is debatable, the municipal officials are however aware of the carelessness on their part and informed the community that they are looking into the matter.
PRIA and her partners have introduced a community notice board in the basti. Prakash however noticed that this community board is not even visible to the community – the board is hung too high to be adequately visible! Sometimes, even obvious reflections do get missed while intervening in communities- this was a simple but good lesson for the NGO.
Machra slum basti
The Machar basti is a rehabilated slum on Sikar road on the outskrits of Japur. Under BSUP, Jaipu Development authority had proposal for rehabilitation of 17 slums on three sites at Sikar road. The residents of Machar basti have been relocated from Vishwakarma Industrial Area, Ajmer Bypass Road where now an Anaj Mandi is proposed. However the conditions of this rehabilated slum are gruesome.
Prakash noticed that the community is housed on an un-tenable and unsafe area at the foot hills of rocky outcrops at Sikar road. The residents are now far from the city and their expenditure has increases manifold because of the travel cost. The residents are also unable to build their houses at the said location since they are unable to procure a no objection certificate that might help them in availing requisite loan. As a result, what one encounters in this rehabilitated slum instead of houses are plastic shacks! Not to miss that government did not provide any basic services either in this land before relocating these slum dwellers. To get fresh water, the residents end up paying Rs 100 each family per day.
Rehabilitation, slum upgradation and transit camps – all are treated with no planning and concern of the needs of the poor dweller. There should have been a mandate, a evaluation, reporting of how projects under BSUP or any other scheme do not follow the correct approach towards rehabilitation of slum dwellers and giving them the rights they deserve! Machar basti and JP Colony basti are just examples of what we see every day – all around us!