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Gurugram cannot disown its poor migrant population

It’s about time that the government and the private sector collaborates to create low cost housing for the migrants, who have made Gurugram their home.

opinion Updated: Aug 21, 2018 13:09 IST
gurugram,HUDA,EWS
In Haryana, even the little that is done regarding EWS housing is through the private builders, to construct a specific number of EWS units in their projects.(HT File )

Today, Gurugram is at the crossroads of haves and have-nots with little or no effort being made to accommodate its large, poor migrant population. The administration is not equipped to handle the enormous crisis that it is faced with. There is no census being done to understand the enormity of the problem or efforts to devise ways to cater to the needs of the poor.

Rich have moved to Gurugram and made it their home. They have built life around this place. However, the poor migrants, who also came here to have a better life, are struggling.

Economically weaker section (EWS) is defined as a household having an average annual income of Rs 1 lakh or less, the definition needs a revision to be relevant in today’s scenario. Various state governments have outlined different policies to ensure that the weaker sections of society are provided with basic home and shelter. However, in Haryana, even the little that is done regarding EWS housing is through the private builders, to construct a specific number of EWS units in their projects.

There are two major issues that come to light when we think about EWS housing. Firstly, these housing facilities are negligible. The builders have no interest in this segment, as it is not commercially viable. And secondly, the rich people don’t want the economically weaker sections in their face. This has even led developers to build EWS housing at a distance from regular projects. A large number of EWS flats are lying vacant due to disputes between the residents and developers, leaving the poor with no place to stay. There is an immediate need for an intervention by the government to resolve issues relating to vacant EWS units in the city.

The other big problem is that a domicile of Haryana needed to claim such houses, totally rules out the migrant population.

These people are not even eligible for such schemes. Huda has made several attempts for allotment of 1,088 flats at prime locations in Gurgaon at Sector 47, but has not been able to succeed in the allotment of these flats.

The cost of EWS on resale is so high that it is making them unaffordable for those who are meant to benefit from this social welfare measure. This is leading to an alleged scam, in which these flats are purchased by people who declare low income through false certificates bought in the name of relatives and are then held for five years before a resale. Some of the one room unit can range from Rs 40 lakh in Laburnum, Rs 32 lakh in Beverley, Rs 18 lakh in Sec 49 and Rs 7 lakh on Golf Course Extension/Sohna Road. The rentals in these units range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per month — unaffordable in every way for the poor.

This has forced the poor to live in urban villages which can be termed as slums or ‘jhuggis’ on private or government land. The landowners, most often local residents, create these small, dingy rooms with shared bathrooms. Not only the poor migrants are forced to live here in extremely pathetic conditions, they are made to buy their daily grocery from the landowner at higher prices. The ‘jhuggis’ on the government land are mere encroachments, again made by a group of locals and rented out to these people. The rental varies from Rs 2,000- Rs 4,000, for a deplorable house.

Clearly, there is a lack of policy and the enforcement of the existing regulations. It’s about time that the government and the private sector collaborates to create low cost housing for the migrants, who have made Gurugram their home. There is also a need to monitor their existing dwellings and provide them with better living conditions.

(A co-founder of iamgurgaon, the writer and her team are aiming to plant one million trees in the city)

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 13:05 IST