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One name, plenty confusion: Delhi has multiple neighourhoods with the same names

There are at least nine names shared by two or more neighbourhoods in Delhi, often confusing visitors, postmen, policemen and drivers

delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2018 15:38 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,New Delhi,San Nagar
Sant Nagar in Burari, where 11 members of a family were found dead.(Photo: )

When Ankur Rattan switched on his television on the morning of July 1, he was shocked to find his neighbourhood’s name flashing across the TV screen, in big, bold letters. That was the day 11 members of a family were found dead at a house in Sant Nagar.

It took Rattan a while to realise the channels were talking about Sant Nagar in north Delhi’s Burari — 15 kilometres from his own neighbourhood with the same name, Sant Nagar, in Pitampura.

Rattan, who works for a telecom firm, was inundated with phone calls from relatives and friends. “They wanted to know if the deaths happened near my home. In the meanwhile, I had done some research and they were surprised when I informed them that there were at least four Sant Nagars in Delhi.”

Devinder Sharma, president of the Sant Nagar Residents Welfare Association (RWA), received one such phone call earlier this week. The “Sant Nagar” where he lives is in posh south Delhi. “Now, when I mention Sant Nagar, I say, ‘Sant Nagar, near East of Kailash’,” Sharma says.

Sant Nagar is not isolated. There are at least nine other names shared by two or more neighbourhoods in the city, often confusing first-time visitors, postmen, policemen, drivers and deliverymen, and a whole lot of other people who end up at a wrong location because of this peculiar plurality of neighbourhood names.

For example, Delhi has four Krishna Nagar, three Sangam Vihar, three Bharat Nagar and two each of Harsh Vihar, Hari Nagar, Vijay Vihar, Pratap Nagar, Vishnu Garden and Chander Vihar.

Then there are places such as Shakarpur-Shakurpur, and Jagatpur-Jagatpuri, where a single vowel makes a difference when it comes to sending a letter by post or hiring an auto-rickshaw.

“In a city where the names of important roads are changed at a whim, it is surprising we fell short of distinct names for our neighbourhoods,” says Ravi Chhabra, a matrimonial agent in Krishna Nagar — or to be precise, in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar.

For, not being precise could take you where you never intended to go.

Rashmi Tiwari, a banker, arrived in the wrong Krishna Nagar a few weeks ago. “I had to visit a friend who lives in south Delhi’s Krishna Nagar, near Safdarjung Enclave. After reaching Krishna Nagar, for 15 minutes, we were both confused over phone as I couldn’t locate her house,” says Tiwari.

Her friend, Geetika Mehta, laughs while recounting the error. “My Krishna Nagar is in Safdarjung; the other one is across the Yamuna,” says Mehta. Little did she know there were two other lesserknown Krishna Nagars — one near Karol Bagh and another in Sarai Rohilla — both just three kilometres apart.

Most common victims of such confusions are newcomers. A few years ago, Jamia Millia Islamia alumnus Pawan Naga had hired an auto-rickshaw from New Delhi Railway Station to his friend’s home in Bharat Nagar near New Friends Colony. “It was my first visit to Delhi and I was unaware of another Bharat Nagar in north Delhi. I think the driver knew, but he fleeced me,” recounts Naga.

While most of these situations could be dismissed lightly, police and post office staffers say it is not a laughing matter for them at all. At the Burari post office, employees frequently find letters destined for Sant Nagar, but without a PIN code, name of an accompanying larger neighbourhood, or even a landmark. Postmaster SC Gautam says most of these people believe there is just one Sant Nagar.

“Many people don’t write PIN codes anymore. Others don’t even mention a phone number on the envelopes. The sorting machines separate letters without PIN codes from the rest. We redirect them to our counterparts at the most probable Sant Nagar,” says Gautam.

Staffer Sudhanshu Shekhar says one or two such letters end up at this post office every day. “Every letter is important and could mean a lot to the sender and the receiver. Some such letters go round and round and come back to us after a month,” says Shekhar.

The police say they take the confusion over names seriously. “It could result in a delay in providing help to someone. Complainants could wrongly feel that we are reluctant to help. We train our staff to quickly identify and clarify such confusions,” says Aslam Khan, deputy commissioner of police under whose jurisdiction the Bharat Nagar police station in northwest Delhi falls.

DCP Khan’s duty officers at the Bharat Nagar police station deal with the problem quite frequently. In fact, when they receive a call from New Friends Colony police station under whose jurisdiction Bharat Nagar in south Delhi falls, they know the exact reason. “Every week, there is one or two such situations. I have actually bonded with the duty officer at the other police station just because of this confusion,” says a duty officer at Bharat Nagar.

Bharat Bhushan, a professional photographer in north Delhi’s Bharat Nagar, says the problem in his neighbourhood could be done away by just adding an extra ‘a’ in the name. “The Bharat of our colony actually refers to India. Signboards get it right in Hindi, but in English there is a single ‘a’,” says Bhushan.

He suggests that the government change the names of the two other Bharat Nagars. “We are a colony of refugees from Pakistan. Our colony is the oldest with seven decades of existence and should have the right to own the name,” says Bhushan. He laughs aloud when told that he shares his first name with the neighbourhood.

Sanjeev Jha, MLA from Burari, recognises this problem only too well. Just days ago, he had a friend from the nearby Sant Nagar order pizza from an outlet in south Delhi’s Sant Nagar late in the night. “My friend and the delivery boy spoke over phone for nearly 30 minutes before comprehending the situation. The friend slept hungry that night,” says Jha.

As much he wishes away the situation, Jha wouldn’t propose renaming the Sant Nagar in his constituency. “The residents will not want their colony’s name to be changed. It would snatch away their identity,” says Jha.

Anil Thukral, a property dealer in Pitampura’s Sant Nagar, has a suggestion. “We could officially add to the names so that the neighbourhoods retain their identity as well as have distinct names. We could have Sant Nagar A, Sant Nagar B or Sant Nagar C. The government must first conduct a survey of all such neighbourhoods, big or small,” Thukral says.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 15:38 IST