Piles of dung cakes lie in the sun in a 5,000 square-yard plot, meant for a school building. Children play cricket in torn clothes here. This is not a scene in an inaccessible village somewhere in an underdeveloped state of India, but from a small hamlet on the eastern-most fringes of the Capital.
Badarpur Khadar is home to more than 3,000 people, most of who do not earn more than Rs. 3,000 per month. Electricity came here only in 2010. There are no government water connections here. People make do with handpumps. There is no public transport facility either.
The area’s development, it seems. is not on the radar of the authorities.
Badarpur Khadar comes under Sonia Vihar ward and is the last of the 272 wards. It seems MCD took the last ward on its name value. The area will be, perhaps, the last of wards to be developed.
About 97 per cent of its population is illiterate as the area lacks a school. The only alternative available is a school in UP, which is 8km away. Generations of this 250-year-old village have been united by illiteracy. The villagers now want candidates contesting the polls to give it in writing that the school will be built in a time-bound manner or the entire village will boycott the election.
“Me, my children and my grandchildren cannot read or write. We make a living by farming, but I don’t know for how long we will be able to sustain ourselves,” said Shakeela, a mother of six.
When quizzed about the issue, both MCD and area MP blamed the executive wing for the delay. “We had sanctioned the construction of a school years back, but the executive wing delayed it,” said Mahender Nagpal, chairman, MCD’s education committee.
MP from Delhi’s north-east constituency Jai Prakash Aggarwal said, “I have been trying to ensure there is a basic infrastructure in place here, but MCD’s executive wing has delayed it.”
NGOs working for the children’s welfare say authorities have done nothing.
“Badarpur Khadar has been deprived of education for five generations. Even after two years of RTE, only a school boundary exists,” said Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, that has held several public hearings in this village to improve its infrastructure.
Despite repeated attempts, area councillor Annapurna Mishra could not be contacted.