POPULATION 2.8 TOTAL
Inflated water bills, poorly maintained roads and sewerage systems, inadequate garbage disposal, traffic congestion… South Delhi, home to Delhi’s wellheeled and posh, choc a bloc with millionaire industrialists and businessmen, is also not without its share of problems. Locals hope the new government that comes to power in the Capital will find solutions to issues ranging from water supply of just 15 minutes daily to inadequate toilet facilities for domestic helpers.
Though water and electricity have become major electoral planks, many residents of swank Defence Colony, where one would expect a hassle-free existence, are fed up with inflated water bills – totalling even ₹ 40,000 to
₹ 50,000 a month - from the Delhi Jal Board. “Former chief minister Sheila Dixit had promised that current arrears and penalty for failure to pay inflated bills would be waived, but nothing was done,” says AK Bajaj, office-bearer of the Defence Colony Welfare Association.
On shortages, Bajaj says water is supplied for 15 minutes daily. A number of residents have installed booster pumps to resolve the problem but law-abiding citizens who do not want to draw water illegally have not done so and are suffering as a consequence.
Ashok Bagga, president of the Residents’ Welfare Association, GK 2, says Delhi needs easing of traffic congestion and a proper sewerage system. Matters cannot be resolved as the state government hardly has any control over the Municipal Council and officials of the council could not care less, he says. “No one cares about how bad the roads are; parking is a nightmare even though Greater Kailash is a premium area. Our RWA meets every Friday and we have made numerous representations to our counsellor, but we do not see any improvements.” NUMBER OF CONSTITUENCIES Referring to water and electricity, the two major poll planks of political parties contesting the Delhi Assembly elections, Kiran Sood, former president of Pocket B1 Vasant Kunj Residents’ Welfare Society, feels cheap water and electricity is not the answer. Both are resources that are scarce and valuable. “People have a tendency to waste anything that comes cheap or free of cost. Even now, people waste water and electricity, what will they do when prices are slashed? Politicians or representatives of every society should educate people about conserving our precious resources, not wasting them,” she says.
RWAs, however, are now taking initiatives to improve their societies. Bagga claims his society pays 10 gardeners about ₹ 70,000 to maintain 10 parks in the area. “We have given up on those who have the power to improve our localities and are determined to change things for the better.”
Despite the government push for smart cities, Bajaj says he has yet to see CCTVs being installed in Defence Colony for a check on crimes and traffic violations. There is also a need locally for speed breakers, proper maintenance of roads and resurfacing of tarred roads. The current MP of New Delhi has so far not initiated any project for the improvement of her constituency, he adds.
Bigger issues need to be addressed in Vasant Kunj. Economically backward women working as domestic helpers in the area have no government hospital facilities close by. “We do have Fortis and other private hospitals but AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital are located far away. Vasant Kunj societies also do not have public toilets so most of the domestic helpers have no option but to use the open space behind our buildings – and that can be unsafe too,” says Sood.