How urban ghettos, highrises co-exist
Better employment opportunities have made the Millennium City a popular destination for most migrants. Thousands of people from various states of the country have chosen to reside here for this very reason.india Updated: Jul 07, 2013 01:30 IST
Better employment opportunities have made the Millennium City a popular destination for most migrants. Thousands of people from various states of the country have chosen to reside here for this very reason. Most migrants are settled in 39 urban villages which fall within the city’s municipal limits.
Villages along the MG Road, the Mall Mile of Gurgaon, have got developed as migrants have settled here. Villages like Sikandarpur, Nathupur, Chakkarpur and Silokhra close to the upscale localities of the DLF phases have an urban look.
Most of the migrants live in these villages which offer affordable accommodations and are not very far from their workplace. While there is no recorded data of the current population of each village, the bigger ones along the MG Road have close to one lakh residents each. A one-room apartment with bathroom and kitchen space costs somewhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 in these villages.
Evolution of urban villages
The natives sold most of their land when government and builders started acquiring their land for development projects in the city. With agricultural land being used for development, they were left with no source of income. Over the time, the city saw an influx of migrants, who needed affordable living spaces.
The natives tried to cash in on this opportunity. They got houses constructed on whatever small space of land was available to them and rented out these houses to the migrants. “Gradually, residents started earning from these rented accommodations and it became a popular and profitable venture. There are people who earn in lakhs from tenants,” says Sunita Kataria, councillor of Ward 14.
Migrants, a boon or a burden?
A section of the urban Gurgaon says nuisance has increased because of migrants but most say that they are an indispensable part of the city. “Close to 70 per cent of the people in Sikandarpur are migrants from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The crime graph is increasing because of them. It is difficult to catch them because they don’t have a proper identity,” said Rama Rani Rathee, councillor of Ward 34.
Sunita Yadav, councillor of Ward 33, disagrees and says good and bad elements coexist in a society. “A few anti-social elements among migrants may be involved in criminal activities. Besides, the local population, by virtue of receiving income without work, has developed negative traits. Many natives have taken to criminal activities in the absence of anything to do,” says Yadav.
The migrants, besides providing a full-time income to their landlords, allow smooth functioning of the city’s machinery. Most of the Class IV employees, especially in the private sector, are natives of West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Rajasthan, North-Eastern states and others.
“As they earn comparatively lower salaries, they cannot afford to live in highrises. So they choose these villages,” says professor Shahnaz Parveen, head of geography department, Jamia Millia Islamia, with specialisation in urban geography and environmental studies. Authorities and experts say that migrants are an essential raw material and byproduct of the economic boom.
“There is no dearth of resources in Gurgaon. The question of villages putting pressure on the urban space arises only when there is paucity of any kind. Availability of water may be a problem but we are working to overcome this,” said administrator, Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda), Praveen Kumar.
According to Mukta Naik, urban planner for low-income housing, all the development and economic boom in the city is recent and has been planned to suit the corporates.
“Villages are doing Gurgaon a favour by providing low-income housing to the labourers and the service class. If not for this segment, Gurgaon would have been full of slums,” said Mukta, a researcher on Gurgaon’s urbanised villages.