The growing financial crisis in East Delhi Municipal Corporation has impacted the civic services in the residential neighbourhoods under its jurisdiction.
With limited funds collected through various revenue sources, the civic agency’s priority is to carry out development works in unplanned neighbourhoods over the planned, legal ones. Reason: The civic agency assumes that the planned colonies already have better access to infrastructure and hence reducing services there won’t make much difference.
Residents in affluent neighbourhoods of east Delhi seem to have reconciled with this reality, though grudgingly.
“There is no denying that among all residential areas under our jurisdiction, the planned colonies which comprise 25-30% of the total area, pay Rs 120 crore in property tax every year. This amount is utilised for civil works, mainly in unplanned colonies. But this is how government departments work everywhere. Being a civic body, we are responsible for all round development of all areas,” said Jitender Chaudhary, standing committee chairman, EDMC.
The RWAs in most of the residential colonies of EDMC have hired private collectors to lift garbage door-to-door. They barely wait for the EDMC garbage trucks, which otherwise visit the neighbourhood once in two to three days.
“No one waits for the tipper service. In fact, in gated communities, most of the civic work, from sweeping common areas to maintenance of internal roads, cleaning of drains and upkeep of parks, is done by the resident welfare associations. The main roads belong to the Public Works Department,” said Keswanand, Federation of Group Housing Societies, Indraprastha Extension.
“However, we are though thankful to area councillor for shifting two major dhalaos from areas to the main drain near NH 24,” he added.
I P Extension is home to 93 group housing societies and multi-storeyed apartment blocks and falls in Ward 19E. The ward also has industrial areas in addition to unplanned colonies like Madhu Vihar and Ghazipur village where councillor Geeta Sharma stays.
Unlike gated societies, those living in plotted areas such as Preet Vihar, Anand Vihar, Surajmal Vihar are miffed with the civic agency. “The drains are never cleaned and are choked for years. The EDMC announced reconstruction of these drains and suggested that the RWAs also construct rainwater harvesting units to raise the water level in the area. The agency promised to fund 50% of the project. But none of these promises was fulfilled,” said Raj Kumar of G Block RWA, Preet Vihar.
The are open garbage dumps in these neighbourhoods are a huge eyesore. “They should be either closed or shifted from here,” said BS Vohra, president of Federation of east Delhi RWAs Joint Front.
Maintenance of parks is among the biggest challenges before EDMC. The Anand Vihar area, which falls in ward 225 has 21 parks. Out of them, four are looked after by the residents who have hired private gardeners for the job. The parks directly under the municipality are shabby as ever.
“Since the EDMC’s scheme to adopt parks under Public Private Partnership is no more operational, we are spending money from our pockets to maintain these open spaces. Under the scheme, the MCD used to give Rs 6,000 per acre to RWAs for upkeep of parks,” said Vinod Kumar, a member of Anand Vihar RWA.
A senior official from the horticulture department said, EDMC has 1,181 posts for gardeners while only 634 are filled. “Every month, about 12-14 of them retire. Going by this speed, by 2020, I don’t think the horticulture department will be left with any staff. The younger personnel refuse to work as they are not paid salaries for three to four months,” the officials said.
DC Gupta, a resident of D Block, Anand Vihar said the councillor had not visited the area for years. “How can we blame the civic agency for poor services when our elected councillor Mahinder Ahuja never visited the area for years. Forget about dedicated corners for children and senior citizens, there is no water supply in parks.”
Ahuja, however, claims that Anand Vihar is considered among best wards in Delhi for the greenery, roads, streetlights and other services.
Need for amenities
Residents believe that the civic infrastructure developed by the Delhi Development Authority started deteriorating after these were handed over to the MCD.
In the absence of designated parking areas, the residents are using any open space for the purpose. In Mayur Vihar I, green patches at the end block have been encroached upon to park vehicles.
“Likewise, the main road surrounding Mayur Vihar I has been encroached upon. Unplanned colonies like Acharya Nikentan, Shashi Garden, Pratap Nagar, Kotla village and Trilokpuri border it on one side and residents park vehicles along the DDA Flats boundary,” said Kailash Katiyal, a resident of Pocket I, Mayur Vihar.
Gurmeet Kaur, a councillor from Mayur Vihar, says that parking and encroachment are big issues but says that MCD is taking timely action. “We had demanded a DDA land (earmarked for school) for parking but a change in land use delayed things,” she said.
The Balco market in IP extension, C Block Anand Vihar, Surajmal Vihar Market and A block Market in Preet Vihar are other glaring examples of increasing encroachments.
To fulfil the need for parking, the EDMC had inaugurated project for multi-level car parking at Krishna Nagar in September 2013. But so far only one basement is constructed. The 18 months project was supposed to have two basements and five floors.