MCD elections: Delhi’s rural areas have urban problems
With the April 23 municipal elections nearing, people in these areas list maintenance of roads, drains, sewerage, sanitation, schools and health care as some of the key electoral issues — almost similar to those in the urban pockets, though with a local angle to it.MCD Elections 2017 Updated: May 26, 2017 16:05 IST
Rural pockets on the margins of the city have a distinct socio-economic culture. But, the problems in these settlements are similar to that of the urban areas.
With the April 23 municipal elections nearing, people in these areas list maintenance of roads, drains, sewerage, sanitation, schools and health care as some of the key electoral issues — almost similar to those in the urban pockets, though with a local angle to it.
Sitting on a charpoy, with a bunch of senior citizens in Ghevra village, Jagat Singh voices the pending demands of the area. “One of our biggest demands has been construction and maintenance of ‘firni’ road. It’s an old demand, but we have to yet see it turn into reality,” Singh said. Firni roads are the peripheral roads surrounding the village. Locals say, in most of rural areas of the Capital, these roads are either kuchha (unmetalled) or badly maintained.
Demand for a well-laid peripheral road gets echoed in neighbouring villages like Nizampur, Jonti and Karala. While in Mundka, aides of former mayor Azad Singh who has represented the ward for a decade, count it as a major achievement. “The road has been laid twice by master saheb (Azad Singh),” said Sandeep, a volunteer at Singh’s office.
Ghevra is part of the Kanjhawla municipal ward in Mundka assembly segment carved out of the Karala ward after delimitation. At the office of Aam Aadmi Party candidate Neelam Jitendar, a local volunteer Jeevan Singh said major development issues here include lack of municipal schools, poor availability of teachers and absence toilets and maternity centres. He said that the rural parts of the city-state, popularly known as Delhi dehat, have unique problems and the remedies must also be focused.
“We are in Delhi, yet devoid of several basic amenities expected in a metropolitan city. Most of the hospitals and good private schools are far away from these places located on the margins of the city. Therefore, two most basic demands are better primary schools and maternity centres,” Singh added.
While these pockets continue to preserve Delhi’s rural flavour, the demography here is changing rapidly with increase in population and rapid growth of unauthorised colonies.
As locals here discuss their problems, the boundaries between municipal bodies and Delhi government get blurred. For example, a bunch of students outside Chhotu Ram Rural Institute of Technology on the Bawana-Narela road, say public transport is one of their biggest worries and they will raise it with the candidates in the MCD polls.
“Many of us come from far away places. Mostly orange buses (under cluster city bus scheme) ply on this stretch, but their frequency is very bad. Most of the time we request for lift from the bikers passing by if we have to attend our classes on time,” said Anirudh.
However, providing public transport is the responsibility of the Delhi government and not the municipal corporation. On learning this, one of the students named Vikram suggests that the functioning of the MCDs should be reformed with measures like introducing a longer tenure for the mayor. “If the area has to be developed, not only should the mayor needs to have a long run but he should also be a councillor from a rural pocket,” Vikram said.
Mohan, the owner of the eatery, agreed with this idea. He cited example of former mayor Azad Singh, the younger brother of former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, to substantiate the argument. “He could get an underpass constructed on Ranikhera road and a stadium in Kanjhawla because he was mayor, though they don’t fall under his municipal ward,” Mohan said.