PITHAMPUR, ONE of the largest industrial hubs in the country, continues to lag behind in social infrastructure due to the neglect of powers that be. Civic amenities like housing, healthcare facilities, good schools both primary and secondary, potable water supply and entertainment centres remain a distant dream for the residents.
In July 2005, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Indore chapter had an interaction with the then Dhar Collector D P Ahuja at Eicher Motors Limited, Pithampur with an objective to resolve local issues that the industry was facing in Pithampur and to promote greater industry-government participation for the upliftment of the area, both economically and socially.
One year down the line, the scenario remains unchanged. Says Pithampur Audyogik Sangathan president Gautam Kothari, “It’s a total mess; the region’s development has not kept pace with the population, which has crossed 1 lakh mark.”
The industrial belt is facing serious housing problems. At present, most of the labourers are residing within the factory premises.
In 1984, 2500 houses were constructed and since then all the houses have come up in an unplanned manner. Lack of housing has also given way to slums, and the workers are being compelled to live in unhygienic conditions.
Dhar Collector R K Gupta when contacted over the phone said a survey is being done for a housing scheme in which 2000 houses are proposed. Efforts are also being made to rope in HUDCO for the proposed project.
The health infrastructure is in shambles. There is a 70-bed government hospital, but it lacks proper equipment, medicines, and pathology facilities. The lone full-time doctor there also has his own private practice. An ESI health centre also caters to residents of Sector 1 and 2 and as many as 33,000 cards have been issued, but the facilities remain woefully inadequate. “It’s no surprise that quacks rule the roost here exploiting the gullible workers who look for a quick cure of several diseases.” rues Kothari.
“We are trying to open another hospital,” says Gupta. “Actually we have sent a proposal to the government to constitute an independent body “Pithampur Development Authority” to ensure proper and systematic development of the region.
The education scenario is equally bleak. There is a government school and recently few private schools have also opened up, but the standard of education remains poor. There are no training institutes and good primary and secondary schools.
Then, there is shortage of potable water. Even the industry as a whole faces acute water shortage in the summer. Against the demand of 40 lakh litres, the supply is only around 25 lakh litres per day.
After a hard day’s labour, the workers have no place to head for entertainment. There are no movie halls, parks or sports complex in the region. Illicit liquor business and flesh trade are flourishing in the region.
Industrialists fear this will surely have repercussions in the coming years, hitting productivity of workers and hence the company’s bottom-line and increasing health care expenditure.
“A plan for developing a new colony spread over 150 acres is on the anvil. This colony will be self-sufficient meaning it will have houses, hospital, schools, parks, and shopping complex. This colony is being targeted at employees who commute from Indore or other regions,” says Gupta.
The plan sounds good except that the workers of Pithampur have no place in this grand scheme.