Population rise, landfills key poll plank for East Delhi voters | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Population rise, landfills key poll plank for East Delhi voters

May 24, 2024 09:34 AM IST

East Delhi has 2,120,584 voters, and comprises 10 assembly areas — Jangpura, Trilokpuri, Okhla, Kondli, Patparganj, Laxmi Nagar, Vishwas Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, and Shahdara

The garbage mountain at the Ghazipur and Okhla landfill sites, hazardous pollution levels at Anand Vihar, traffic snarls in Laxmi Nagar, congested bylanes that are a fire hazard in Gandhi Nagar, effluent discharge and cleaning of the Kondli and Taimur Nagar drains — these are some of the biggest concerns that East Delhi faces.

Akshardham Temple in East Delhi. (Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)
Akshardham Temple in East Delhi. (Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)

Just a few decades ago, much of this part of the city was unoccupied, but as the Capital’s population grew, East Delhi became home to a rapidly increasing number of middle- and upper-middle class residents.

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Today, East Delhi has 2,120,584 voters, and comprises 10 assembly areas — Jangpura, Trilokpuri, Okhla, Kondli, Patparganj, Laxmi Nagar, Vishwas Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, and Shahdara.

However, with the spike in population came many of the issues that plague the constituency today.

What voters want

The greatest challenge East Delhi faces is its landfills.

People living in residential colonies around the Ghazipur landfill such as Mullah Colony and Ghazipur Dairy say that the “khatta” — the name locals use for the dump — is an omnipresent gift given to them by the government, affecting their daily life and health in multiple ways. They blame politicians for their miseries, alleging that party leaders visit their neighbourhoods during the election season only in order to seek votes.

“It’s not an exaggeration when we say people from other parts of Delhi and other states do not want to marry their sons and daughters in our neighbourhood because of this mountain of garbage. I am a living example of this issue. I have turned 30 and am still unmarried... Even our relatives show reluctance in attending functions at our houses as they can’t bear the stench,” said Nasreen Khan, a resident of Mullah Colony.

People in other parts of East Delhi say that law and order is a persistent problem that no lawmaker has taken seriously so far.

“Residential colonies in East Delhi have kept increasing in number, but the law-and-order situation has remained bad. Petty crime like snatching is common. Thieves also steal tyres from parked cars,” said Vinod Varshney, a resident of IP Extension who has lived in the area for more than 30 years.

Varshney said sanitation is another big concern. “There is a drain along the Meerut Expressway that is almost permanently clogged and even has construction waste in it. Every time we complain, it is unclear whether NHAI, MCD or any other agency will get the work done,” he said.

Mayank Jha, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase 3, complained of the poor upkeep of infrastructure in his area.

“Most of the societies here are old and dilapidated. The roads outside are permanently congested with traffic and vendors. Footpaths, wherever available, are broken. Parks in our area also need better maintenance. These are the small things that can improve our quality of life, but politicians don’t pay attention to these,” he said.

Apart from residential areas, East Delhi also consists of Okhla, an industrial area, and Gandhi Nagar, considered one of Asia’s largest readymade garments market.

“Gandhi Nagar was never planned, and shops kept getting added. Now, there are narrow lanes with thousands of shops that are always cramped with vehicles loading and unloading. If there is a fire in any home or shop, fire tenders can hardly reach there… Basic sanitation within the market is also a problem,” said KK Bali, president of the Gandhi Nagar market association.

Meet the candidates

Kuldeep Kumar, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from East Delhi, is the incumbent Kondli MLA, and will face off against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pick Harsh Malhotra, a former mayor of the erstwhile East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

Last week, Malhotra released a manifesto that listed out four broad areas that he will work on — cleaning of Yamuna, monorail connectivity, east campus of Delhi University, and speedy redevelopment of slum clusters — along with 10 other promises for the constituency, and presented timelines for their completion. He also promised to set up a Trans-Yamuna Development Board within two months of getting elected.

“Many big and landmark development works have happened due to the efforts of the central government. For example, the construction of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway eradicated the traffic congestion problem and reduced the usual 35-minute travel time from east Delhi to Sarai Kale Khan to just seven-eight minutes, thus decreasing pollution as well. The Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) and the Akshardham-Dehradun Expressway, which is nearly 70% complete, are also in East Delhi,” said Malhotra.

Kumar, meanwhile, said improving law and order is one of his top priorities.

“I want to ensure that people feel safe in their homes. The Ghazipur landfill site also comes under the East Delhi area and our government in the state has worked a lot towards reducing it, which I will take forward. Extension of the Delhi Metro in areas like Mayur Vihar Phase 3 will also be an important agenda,” he said.

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