De­fence set­tle­ment

HT Estates - - Front Page - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

From near-prim­i­tive con­di­tions of liv­ing to a fully in­te­grated res­i­den­tial area, Noida’s sec­tor 37 has come a long way in the 27 years of its ex­is­tence.

“Those who moved in first had to face some se­ri­ous prob­lems (com­mon to most of the other sec­tors in Noida) such as non-ex­is­tent sup­port in­fra­struc­ture. The qual­ity of drink­ing wa­ter was very bad and there were no proper roads,” says Brig (retd) Gur Dyal, who has been liv­ing here since the ’80s.

Lt Col MP Kohli and Brig DB Rai were among the first res­i­dents who came here on Jan­uary 1985. As time went by, many other de­fence of­fi­cers fol­lowed suit. How­ever, for years they had to strug­gle for ba­sic ameni­ties.

“What brought us here was a community feel­ing. It was like liv­ing in one big de­fence fam­ily of de­fence of­fi­cers. Life was not easy though - and peo­ple had to trek to other places to fetch wa­ter in leather bags,” re­calls an­other orig­i­nal al­lot­tee.

Since the sec­tor was de­vel­oped by the Army Wel­fare Hous­ing Board (AWHO), all the houses were al­lot­ted to serv­ing or re­tired army­men. The AWHO is re­spon­si­ble for the hous­ing of army per­son­nel and their wid­ows at se­lected places throughout the coun­try.

The Board’s first project was at Som Vi­har in Delhi’s RK Pu­ram. Since the de­mand there was greater than sup­ply, the board bought land first in Noida Sec­tor 37 and sub­se­quently in the satel­lite towns of Sec­tor 28 and 29. All three res­i­den­tial sec­tors were named Arun Vi­har. “Sec­tor 37 has ap­prox­i­mately 2000res­i­den­tial units, which also in­cludes in­de­pen­dent houses. In the past 27 years, 20% of the orig­i­nal res­i­dents have moved out. Due to this, its orig­i­nal char­ac­ter – a colony for de­fence per­son­nel – has changed,” says Col (retd) Sita Ram, vice chair­man of the Arun Vi­har RWA.

The wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion has been do­ing some good work. It has taken the ini­tia­tive to build a gur­d­wara, a tem­ple, the Chin­maya Mis­sion, the Brahma Shri Sarswati Devi Adi Shakti Math and other reli­gious in­sti­tu­tions for keep­ing the res­i­dents spir­i­tu­ally con­nected to the almighty.

An­other re­cent pos­i­tive change in the area is that con­nec­tiv­ity has im­proved with the Metro run­ning close by. Two sta­tions, the Botan­i­cal Gar­den and the Golf Course, are close by. This has also trans­lated to higher val­ues of real es­tate.

How­ever, this sec­tor faces many prob­lems for which res­i­dents have only them­selves to blame. “Some peo­ple have car­ried out il­le­gal con­struc­tion and en­croached upon pub­lic land. They have cov­ered the open space (around or in front of their homes) with tem­po­rary shel­ters or barbed wire. There are oth­ers who have ex­tended their bound­ary walls to grab open area. We have re­ported the mat­ter to the Noida Author­ity sev­eral times and the lat­ter has taken ac­tion in some cases but the prob­lem still ex­ists,” says an AVRWA mem­ber.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s of­fice­bear­ers also say that they have raised the is­sue of the stink­ing drain with the Noida Author­ity, which had agreed to place high bar­ri­ers to pre­vent peo­ple from dump­ing garbage in it. “We hope we get rid of this prob­lem very soon,” says Col (retd) Ram.

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