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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Citizens seek to remove hurdles in development

In Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri, Kirari, and Nangloi assembly seats — all under North West Delhi — railway crossings in the middle of densely populated areas are a major issue.

delhi Updated: May 06, 2019 05:17 IST
Ashish Mishra
Ashish Mishra
New Delhi
Construction of an underpass and flyover underway at Sultanpuri.
Construction of an underpass and flyover underway at Sultanpuri.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

In the reserved North West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, which comprises unauthorised colonies, middle-class neighbourhoods and vast swathes of rural villages, the issues are as varied as its population mix.

If it is congestion and poor water supply in unauthorised colonies such as Kirari and Mangolpuri, for middle-income urban areas of Rohini and Paschim Vihar, it is poor maintenance of parks and community halls, irregular water supply and garbage management. The rural belt’s priorities are lack of hospitals and higher education institutions, unemployment and tubewell bills.

In Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri, Kirari, and Nangloi assembly seats — all under North West Delhi — railway crossings in the middle of densely populated areas are a major issue. The lines run parallel to Rohtak Road and divides areas such as Paschim Vihar, Bhera Enclave, Nihal Vihar from the unauthorised colonies of Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri and Kirari.

It takes more than half an hour every day for Sanjay Kumar Bansal, 32, to reach his office in Nihal Vihar seven kilometers away in Prem Nagar, an illegal neighbourhood. But Bansal has to negotiate a congested railway crossing between Kirari and Nangloi on the Delhi-Rohtak line during peak hours everyday, which increases his travel time.

“An underpass was approved but work is yet to begin. A railway overbridge is being constructed in neighbouring Sultanpuri for the last eight years. Commuters either have to brave the jams at the crossing or take a 3km detour and use Mangolpuri underpass to cross the railway line,” Bansal said.

Demography and area

The constituency was carved out of Outer Delhi constituency in 2008 and reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. Ten assembly constituencies — Bawana, Rithala, Mundka, Nangloi Jat, Mangol Puri, Rohini, Sultan Pur Majra, Narela, Badli and Kirari— come under this seat.

It has the largest electorate (23.78 lakh), but witnessed the lowest turnout — 61% — in the 2014 general elections.

The rural belt comprises around 85 villages — mainly in Bawana, Badli, Mundka, Narela and Nangloi. Majority of the unauthorised colonies are nestled around the Delhi-Rohtak railway line and very densely populated. Middle-class neighbourhoods such as Rohini, Paschim Vihar, Nihal Vihar, among others, form the remaining part of the constituency. The region also consists of the industrial areas of Bawana and Nangloi.

In 2009, a year after it was created,the Congress’s Krishna Tirath clinched North West Delhi for the first time. The sitting MP, Udit Raj, bagged the seat on a BJP ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, defeating AAP’s Rakhi Birla by 1.06 lakh votes. Tirath was at the third spot in 2014. Raj recently switched over to the Congress after being denied a ticket this time.

Caste and Communities

The constituency has a sizeable Scheduled Caste population, roughly 22% of the voter base. The villages are dominated by Jats and Brahmins, while unauthorised colonies and slums have mostly Scheduled Caste and Muslim voters.

Outer Delhi, according to senior BJP and Congress leaders, was a Jat bastion, with a vote base of over 20%. But after delimitation, the seat has just around 12% Jat base, mainly from the Nangloi-Jat development block. The rest of the Jat vote base – in Najafgarh and Mehrauli development blocks – went to West Delhi and South Delhi, respectively.

Around the same time, Karol Bagh, the erstwhile reserved Lok Sabha segment, too could not retain its Dalit vote base after delimitation. It had to part with all its assembly seats to New Delhi and Chandni Chowk.

The delimitation period coincided with migration of Purvanchalis – people from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — across Delhi. A large chunk of the Dalit community from within Purvanchalis settled in areas under North West Delhi. With this, senior party leaders said, Dalit population in areas that were now under North West Delhi seat became highest in proportion compared to others.

Issues on ground

As part of Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) urban extension plan, Rohini sub-city was developed by the agency in the 1980s. But even after 30 years, the area grapples with water supply issues.

“It is a planned area but the authorities failed to provide basic amenities. Leaks in pipelines are a regular affair and the Jal Board is not doing enough to maintain the lines. These are small issues but politicians and authorities do not bother,” Prabhjot Juneja, a Rohini resident , said.

Rajesh Garg, a former MLA from the area, said parks and community halls were in a pathetic condition in Rohini. “Parks are dry, unclean and jogging tracks are broken. There are 11 community halls and all are in a bad shape. At many halls, there is no water or electricity and people have to rely on water tankers and generators for any event,” he said.

In the rural belt, people said they need hospitals, better transport, higher education institutions, especially for girls, and lower electricity tariff for tube wells. “For treatment, villagers have to go to Pooth Khurd or Mangolpuri, which are at least 12km away. Similarly, girls have to go to colleges in far-off areas of Alipur, Bawana and Najafgarh. These are long-pending demands but neither the government nor the MPs have paid any heed,” Rameshwar Chhikara of Tatesar village said.

A resident of Qutubgarh, Choudhary Joginder Singh said people have to pay hefty amounts for tubewell connections, even when the facility is not in use. “This is because of the state government’s decision to increase fixed charges on tubewell connections by four times. Earlier, during off season, tubewell bills of 6 kw connection used to be ₹270 per month. Now it is above ₹1,000 per month,” Singh said.

In working-class areas such as Kirari, Sultanpuri, Mangolpuri, Nangloi — largely illegal and slum colonies around railway lines — traffic congestion due to railway crossings is a major concern.

Water supply is another issue in unauthorised colonies. “Water is supplied thrice a week. We rely on water tankers or store it in bulk whenever it is supplied,” Rita Jha, a resident of Kirari, said.

Poll dynamics

The BJP has fielded popular Punjabi Hans Raj Hans, preferring him over the incumbent Udit Raj, who then joined the Congress. The Congress is banking on one of its three working presidents and two-time MLA Rajesh Lilothia, who is the party’s known Dalit face. Udit Raj, who has a strong support base in the area, said he will campaign for Lilothia.

The AAP has fielded Gugan Singh, a former BJP MLA from Bawana. Singh had contested the 2015 assembly election but lost to AAP’s Ved Prakash. Singh joined AAP in 2017 when the BJP denied him a ticket for the Bawana bypoll.

The BJP’s opponents have tagged Hans a “parachute” candidate as he hails from Jalandhar in Punjab. Hans maintains he is not an outsider because he has a house in Rohini. “Hospitals, social security, pollution control and improvement of water supply will be the key issues I would like to address,” he said.

AAP’s Singh said he was aware of the problems in the constituency. “I have worked in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police) so I know how to obey an order. In a similar fashion, I will obey orders of the voters here. Full statehood, lack of

First Published: May 06, 2019 05:17 IST

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