During a visit to Gas Widows’ Colony on Rakshabandhan four years ago, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had promised his ‘rakhi sisters’ an overhaul of the colony’s pathetic civic conditions. The promise, at best, remains half-fulfilled.
On Chouhan’s insistence, the settlement’s name was changed from the grim Gas Widows Colony to Jeevan Jyoti colony, meaning a place with light of life. But the change in nomenclature has not improved living conditions, residents said.
The biggest problem faced by the 10,000 odd inhabitants is the dysfunctional sewage system, which not only allows filth and sewage water to collect near the housing blocks, but also leads to mixing of sewage water and drinking water, posing a grave health threat.
The funds announced by the chief minister on Rakshabhandan in 2010 were allocated to the Capital Project Authority (gas relief) to carry out repair of houses, construction of roads, drains and a community hall besides improving drinking water facilities and installing street lights.
Though some of the works have been completed, the progress on sewage network has remained stalled for the past four years.
"The quality of works is very poor because of corruption and thus things have gone back to the earlier condition," gas tragedy activist Abdul Jabbar says. He said the sewage issues remain despite repeated reminders to the government.
Many believe the colony has not lived up to its new name, as "street lights hardly function properly".
A meeting convened by SK Mishra, principal secretary to CM, in March this year had said the matter would be resolved by May end. But even the tender for the sewage works, to be executed by Bhopal Municipal Corporation, has not been floated yet. Mishtra told HT the original sewage network in the colony was totally faulty and needs to be replaced fully.
"This would require additional funds. We are fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue and a meeting would be convened soon to expedite the matter," he added.