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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In Bhati, Delhi’s first village to be adopted, a doctor is 12 km away

A decade-old local pharmacy and a mobile health clinic of the Delhi government is all that the Bhati village has in the name of healthcare.

delhi Updated: Apr 11, 2019 13:30 IST
Abhishek Dey
Abhishek Dey
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Bhati village in south Delhi is dominated by the Gujjar community and most of them are engaged in the dairy profession.
The Bhati village in south Delhi is dominated by the Gujjar community and most of them are engaged in the dairy profession. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Rajbir Singh, 64, walks with a limp because, he said, he cannot “feel” his left leg any more. It has been so for three years and now he has to regularly travel 12 kms to see a local doctor for check-ups.

“But the condition of my leg definitely would not have deteriorated if the village had basic medical facilities,” said Singh, who owns a dairy farm in south Delhi’s Bhati village.

A decade-old local pharmacy and a mobile health clinic of the Delhi government is all that the village has in the name of healthcare, said Sunder Singh, 43, another dairy farm owner, as he greeted guests at his courtyard on Sunday. The locals have gathered at his house to mourn Singh’s mother, Kala Devi, 83, who died “after bleeding from her mouth”.

Sunder said, in case of natural deaths, people in the village cremate the dead first and get the death certificate later. When asked why, he said, “How can one do that? (get a death certified). There is no doctor in 10 km radius. When one dies, it is the cremation that is to be done first. The villagers later get death certificates by approaching local politicians.”

 Rajbir Singh is a  resident of  Bhati Kalan village.
Rajbir Singh is a resident of Bhati Kalan village. ( Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO )

Other villagers also expressed disgruntlement about lack of access to schooling after primary level and lack of sewage and drainage system.

They, however, listed stretches of concrete streets, three concrete garbage disposal areas (which the villagers often call dustbins), street lights and water supply in the low-lying areas as development works that have been carried out after the village was adopted by South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojanain2014. Some locals also credited the MP for the frequent visits by the patwari and revenue officials.

“It gives us hope that something good will happen, someday,” said 65-year-old Satyavati Devi, whose husband works as a construction labourer.

Manish Tanwar, 49, also a dairy owner, said a proposed marriage hall could not materialise due to some land dispute. He pointed to a debris-filled plot, owned by the Gram Sabha, where the facility had to come up. The Gram Sabha lands are managed by Delhi government.

Blame game

While there is no proposal for a healthcare facility in the village, files pertaining to allocation of gram sabha land by Delhi government for setting up a senior secondary school, college for women, sewage treatment plant and community hall have been cleared by the Lieutenant Governor this year, said Bidhuri.

“I admit Bhati is not an Adarsh Gram [model village] yet but development is taking time because the departments under the AAP government did not clear the files and refused the MP fund for the village. The work, at the end of the day, had to be executed by them,” said Bidhuri.

Government officials denied the allegations and AAP’s Lok Sabha candidate from South Delhi, Raghav Chadha, blamed Bidhuri for “ill-treating” people of the village.

“The current MP [Bidhuri] has disregarded their basic demands. He has systematically kept Bhati deprived of development,” said Raghav Chadha, AAP’s Lok Sabha candidate from South Delhi.

In response, Bidhuri said: “Today, people know about Bhati because the media has reached the village and it happened only after the village was adopted by a BJP MP.”


Agriculture, jobs

Settled on one end of the Chhatarpur Road, Bhati village has vast swathes of arid land, where ground water has always been a problem. The village, now ensconced amid farm houses and fancy resorts, is a collection of three hamlets — Bhati Khurd, Bhati Kalaan and Bhati Baans.

There is only one DTC bus route which connects the village with urban Delhi.

The village is dominated by the Gujjar community, most of them engaged in the occupation of dairy, with isolated groups of Kumhars settled on the fringes. The Gujjars owned huge swathes of land but could not cultivate due to water crisis.

“And that is why, people started selling off land from the early-1970s for rates as low as ₹200 per bigha. Powerful realtors played a role by creating a fear psychosis over the groundwater crisis,” said Tanwar, whose family sold vast swathes of land in the 1970s and 1980s.

The sale of land went on till 1989, when the tenure of the last legally recognised rural panchayat elections came to an end in Delhi. The price of land in Bhati village by then had shot up to Rs 80,000 per bigha, Tanwar recalled.

“People sold their land as it was not cultivable and they wanted better for their children,” said Jaikaran Bhadona, 74, a resident who retired from Delhi Jal Board. “You will hardly find any youngster with a government job or decent pay in private sector. How will they get jobs? The village has a government primary school and only a few villagers can afford to send their children to higher schools located 8-10 kms away. So, the rest drop out. Though some of them educate their sons, but sending daughters to school beyond primary level is an exception.”

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 12:29 IST

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