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.