A piece of cardboard and some cello tape is all that makes the DDA flat of P.S.S. Nair (74) somewhat liveable. About a month ago, a drain pipe facing the flat of Nair’s cracked and nauseating fumes would enter their house every time they opened their door.
The drain pipe belonged to the neighbouring flats and no one was willing to spend money on a common drain pipe.
“We couldn’t have replaced the pipe so all we could do was cover the gaping hole with a cardboard and wrap cello tape around it,” said Nair.
This is the story in all the flats of the DDA colony in Kalkaji, which mainly has one bedroom Lower Income Group (LIG) flats. After selling these flats in 1975, DDA officials haven’t visited the area even once. The maintenance and repair of the flats depends on the resourcefulness of the flat’s owner.
This is how it works: you face the problem, you fix it. “Those who live in ground floor flats face the biggest problem. Even when there is a leakage in a first floor flat which affects the flat downstairs, upper floor residents never bothers,” said Nair’s wife Omna (70).
Recently, when the buildings exterior needed a fresh coating of paint, there wasn’t enough money to get the job done. “A contractor we wanted to hire for the job wanted Rs. 70,000,” said Nair. “Then I bought the paint myself and hired a labourer to paint as much area possible within the Rs. 20,000 I could afford.”
Despite more than 500 flats in the area, the senior citizen couple don’t feel safe in the colony. “DDA has put no boundary wall around the area and the RWA has put up gates that are not properly manned,” she said. “Recently my gold chain was snatched while I was standing near my house and no one could catch the snatcher.”