HT Estates - - HTESTATES - – HT Es­tates Cor­re­spon­dent


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.

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