HT Clean My Chandigarh Campaign | The dark spots | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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HT Clean My Chandigarh Campaign | The dark spots

Although the city has a robust rehabilitation policy, there appears to be no end in sight to the perennial problem of squatters. The three slums in the city not only lack sanitation but are also a potential breeding ground for diseases. What we need is a policy of prevention and education.

punjab Updated: Jun 08, 2017 15:00 IST
Monica Sharma
Colony No 4 in Industrial Area, Phase I, is the largest of the three remaining slums in the city that await rehabilitation.
Colony No 4 in Industrial Area, Phase I, is the largest of the three remaining slums in the city that await rehabilitation.(HT Photo)

They are called the black spots on City Beautiful. A few years ago, the city had a smattering of them. Today, most of them have been rehabilitated, but the three settlements of leftover shanties with their open drains and filth belie the city’s claims of cleanliness. The UT administration had set a deadline of March 2017 for the resettlement of all its slum-dwellers but their ever increasing number is making it an uphill task.

At present, more than 25,000 people live in the three existing slums of the city. Even though Municipal Corporation claims to have deployed a strong force of safai karamcharis for cleaning up Colony No. 4 and Sanjay Colony, a visit to these areas leads to heaps of garbage piled up on sides of the road. Sewage flows in the open and stagnant water is a common sight. No wonder there are so many cases of malaria here. The safai workers deployed by the MC are nowhere in sight.

They also lack basics such as proper shelter, drinking water, and toilets. Most of shanties are cluttered and have little ventilation. The inhabitants fetch water from public taps. The mobile toilets provided by the MC are unusable for want of maintenance.

Shakti Devshali, BJP councillor of ward number 20, says he seldom sees any safai workers in the vicinity even though the MC claims to have deputed 40 workers for Colony No. 4 alone. “The major problem is that of open drains,” complains Devshali. “The MC safai karamcharis,” he adds, “only clean up the outer roads and don’t step inside the colony.”

The slum-dwellers complain their condition is going from bad to worse even though every five years the local politicians promise them the moon. The dwellers say even though they are considered a significant vote bank by political leaders, little or no effort is being made to improve their living conditions.

While some MC officials blame the slum dwellers for not keeping their surroundings clean, former Congress Member of Parliament from the city, Pawan Kumar Bansal, feels it’s the duty of the corporation to ensure the basic level of hygiene for these squatters. “The quantity of garbage generated by slums is much less than that generated by us. They don’t have the means to spend like us. The solution lies in early rehabilitation and prevention of any further squatting.”

Former BJP MP Satyapal Jain says, “I think the problem of the colonies is settlement and encroachment. When it comes to living conditions, an officer of the MC or administration should try staying in Colony No 4 for a day to understand the plight of the dwellers. We should collaborate with neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to rehabilitate the dwellers.”

The rehabilitation colony of Dhanas was built in accordance with the urban rules of planning. (HT Photo)

REHABILITATION POLICY

According to a biometric survey conducted by the UT administration, there were 18 slums in the city in 2006. The administration claims to have rehabilitated 15 of these settlements in the last ten years. As part of its drive to make the city slum free, the administration assigned Chandigarh House Board the task of constructing dwelling units for slum-dwellers under the ‘Chandigarh Small Flats Scheme 2006’. The scheme aimed to build 25,728 small flats to rehabilitate the squatters. A total of 8,448 flats in Dhanas were given to the residents of various colonies in 2013.

The ‘Small Flat Scheme - 2006’ was notified on an affordable monthly license fee basis (in the range of Rs. 800) to the slum dwellers. Under the scheme, 23,841 bio-metrically identified families of slum-dwellers are being rehabilitated at eight locations in the city. The slum rehabilitation complexes have been developed in the form of integrated townships with urban planning norms. The total cost of the slum rehabilitation project is around Rs 1300 crore. Fifteen hundred flats have already been handed over to squatters in Mauli Jagran. Now around 4500 flats are being built in Maloya. This project will take nearly a year for completion. It was last year that the administration removed and rehabilitated three slums – Lal Bahadur Shastri Colony in Palsora, Ambedkar Colony in Hallomajra, and Kabaddi colony in Industrial area.

NO ROOM FOR WORKERS

In 1950, slums had begun to sprout in Sector 7, 17, 19, 24, 35 and near Capitol Complex, sites of major construction work at that time. Most of these squatters have been rehabilitated in 23,000 dwelling units in slums in various parts of the city, and they have all the basic necessities. The initial squatters were largely labourers and construction workers building the city. Over time, they spread to Sector 25, Sector 26 Bapu Dham Colony and Industrial Area-1. Then came up Colony number 4 and 5, Janta Colony, Kumhar Colony in Sector 25, Adarsh Colony near Palsora, a labour colony at Industrial Area-2, Rajiv Colony near Sector 38 and Nehru Colony near Sector 53. The other slums that sprouted included Madrasi Colony, Rajiv Colony, and Sanjay Colony. The majority of squatters are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan. The city saw a huge wave of migrants between 1971 and 2011, most of whom have settled here. They range from domestic workers, vendors, scrap dealers and cobblers to masons and rickshaw-pullers.

Designed in the 1950s by French architect Le Corbusier, the city had not earmarked any place for labourer. Corbusier assumed that they would return to their native place once the work was completed. But that never happened.