Development came to the plotted colonies of east Delhi only after 1970s. By the turn of the century, these serene leafy neighbourhoods had become one of the most sought-after addresses due to their proximity to the heart of the city. Of course, the Delhi pin code also made itself count.
But over the years, these colonies have been facing a series of civic problems, the reason being that till recently - to be precise till the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated - the area had always been neglected.East Delhi today is reeling under poor roads, water-logging problems, inadequate parking spaces and poor garbage disposal.
Poor colony roads
The worst are the pothole-ridden and water-logged colony roads. Many residents have covered the storm water drains in front of their gates, making it harder to clean or desilt them.
"What is also important is that the slopes of these drains do not have a proper gradient. So, the discharge of water takes time which leads to frequent waterlogging in the colonies," said KP Gupta, president of Chitra Vihar RWA.Most of east Delhi earlier was part of the Yamuna floodplains and hence always had a high water table. So this area suffers more.
"Our colony's storm water drain has no proper natural outfall. So every time it rains, there is water-logging," said OP Rai, from Madhuban's Delhi Officers' Cooperative Housing Building Society Ltd.
Complained TK Balu, the secretary of Anand Vihar's Railway Board Employees Cooperative Housing Society, "We have met the area's councillor and MLA several times. They inspected the area a few times, but extended mere lip service. We have been sparring with the civic agency about our problems for two years now."
Most colonies do not rely on the civic agency for garbage disposal and have outsourced door-to-door collection. But the garbage stations are not regularly cleaned, claim residents.
"Overflowing garbage stations next to Vivekananda Public School and Vivekananda School is a regular feature. I have never seen those stations garbage-free," said a resident of Anand Vihar.
SS Yadav, commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation, claimed that things have improved since the trifurcation.
"We have increased the number of trucks and the garbage lifted from east Delhi has increased from 1,400 million tonne (MT) to 2,000 MT in the past four months," he said. He also promised to improve the monitoring of the job done by the sanitation workers.
Residents agree that some of the problems are their own creations. Converting smaller residences into four-floor flats, covering drains in front of their homes and installing water pumps on the roadside, which leak and then affect the tar roads, are some of these problems.
"But most residents are divided whenever these issues are raised during RWA meetings. They cannot be objective," said VP Sachdeva from Surya Niketan.
Rai said, "Rising population always puts pressure on shared resources. Parking issues can be taken care of, but the sharing of other resources such as water, storm water drains and sewage disposal would always be strained."
KT Ravindran, urban designer and former chief of Delhi Urban Arts Commission, suggested, "You cannot keep expanding in an unlimited way. There are solutions to every problem. But all parties concerned will have to meet in the middle for a solution."