Housing the official residence of Delhi’s lieutenant-governor and chief minister along with a number of plush bungalows, North Delhi’s Civil Lines looks like another Lutyens’ zone. But, take a step further and you will realise that it isn’t.
As one explores the locality, its mighty façade begins to blur. Potholes dot most of the streets making it difficult for people to walk to nearby locations. These broken streets force residents to take their cars out, even if the destination is just minutes away. Those actually seen taking a stroll are security guards with pet dogs and domestic helps.
“Nobody would want to walk if the roads aren’t repaired. Besides, what can we complain about, when the road leading to the CM’s house itself is in a bad shape,” said Satish Singhal a resident of Ram Kishore Road (RSR) in Civil Lines. The road in front of his house and the Shankaracharya Road also faces the same problem.
Naveen Mittal, president of RSR RWA, Civil Lines, said the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, responsible for the upkeep of the zone, did a shoddy job de-concretising trees as per the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). “MCD ruined the aesthetic value of the area. They just de-concretised tree spaces without any design or symmetry,” he said.
Barely a few kilometres away from the posh colony in the same ward (83) are areas like Majnu Ka Tila Tibetan settlement and Transport Nagar that are mired by blocked storm water drains and garbage strewn across streets.
In 2009, the erstwhile unified MCD announced with much fanfare that Civil Lines and Rohini will be the first wards in Delhi to get ‘door-to-door’ garbage collection service. Seven years later, residents claim all of that has been forgotten.
Residents of Rohini, one of the first sub-cities of Delhi, which is packed with Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHS), feel the MCD gives the area a step motherly treatment. “Since all societies have RWAs or working committees which employ their own security guards and waste collectors, the MCD does not feel the need to send its sanitation workers. The tippers just do one round in the whole day, that too from the main roads,” said Vaibhav Piggal, president of Pocket 5 RWA, Rohini Sector 35.
Proximity to Delhi University’s North campus, has made GTB Nagar and Mukherjee Nagar the most populous wards of the North zone. In the last five years, the two areas have seen major modifications in the houses which are now mostly four-storey buildings run as hostels and PG accommodation.
“Kitchens in most of these buildings are big as they function like a mess. Most drains here are choked as large quantities of food and other household items are thrown. It does not only result in stinking streets, but also builds up a huge garbage problem,” said Attar Singh Pal, president of Hudson Lane RWA in GTB Nagar.
MCD sanitation workers are not regular because of which mini dhalaos have emerged on every other lane of the two areas.
Another common concern, besides garbage, among North Delhi residents is fogging. Residents in all the wards that HT visited said that they wanted mosquito fogging to be a regular practice.
“Last year, the MCD woke up only when the media highlighted the rising cases of dengue, chikungunya and malaria. Take today’s example. The temperature is rising now and in the evening mosquitoes are all over the place. Is it not the MCD’s duty to begin regular fogging from here on?” said Syed Murtaza Ali, a resident of K Block in Model Town.
Locals of these North Delhi wards feel the open spaces in front of their houses are increasingly being blocked by encroachments. A number of shops are being opened not only on main colony roads but also on the ground floor houses in several residential areas.
“The width of streets has reduced because of encroachments and the MCD does not demolish them. Visit any park and all along its boundary wall, you will find vendors with their permanent settlements. It is a safety hazard too. Parking is an issue for which residents are also responsible,” said Laxmi Narayan Garg who has been living in C Block of Model Town III for more than 50 years.
Residents of wards such as GTB Nagar, Model Town, Mukherjee Nagar and Rohini, take their parks quite seriously. While no one seems to be happy with the work of the North MCD, many RWAs have taken matters in their own hands and are maintaining the greens with collective funds.
“Tree pruning does not happen in years. Sweeping is not a daily affair and dogs are all over the place. The park in front of my house (next to Chandrashekhar Park) has a broken shed,” said Ranjana Devi, a resident of GTB Nagar.
Residents whom HT interviewed in these areas, said they did not want any new development and instead demanded proper maintenance of the existing infrastructure.
While the upper middle class and affluent wards of North Delhi have problems either with parks, garbage or streets, issues in Sangam Park (ward 76) and Wazirpur (72) are a combination of all of these and even more.
Basic facilities like public toilets are in a deplorable state here with broken sanitary ware and uncovered walls. During monsoons, lanes in slums and unauthorised colonies like Lal bagh are submerged with knee-deep water.
On the one hand, mounds of garbage are seen in every nook and corner, on the other, dispensaries bear a forlorn look with dogs taking shelter even inside the main building.