The displaced residents of Navi Nagri in Vadodara, many of whom were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly beating up local corporator Hasmukh Patel, said that they are facing several problems in their new flats provided to them by the local civic body, and as a result they are angry with their corporator. In May, 118 families agreed to move to their new homes, built under the Rajiv Awaas Yojana, on Waghodia road, some 2 km away from slum dwellings in Navi Nagri near Bapod lake. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had evicted the residents in order to clear the area around the Bapod lake of slums as part of a beautification drive.
“In this 2 BHK house provided by the VMC, we don’t have basic facilities such as drinking water. We have to go to Bapod to get drinking water or we ask from neighbouring society. The houses are of poor quality. The roofs are already leaking in some houses,” said 17-year-old Rajendra Vasava, whose father as well as grandmother are among the 64 residents arrested for the Tuesday’s attack on Patel.
“Our family has been allotted flat on the fifth floor. It is very difficult for my grandparents to climb up every day,” Vasava, who studies in Class X, added.
There are 140 flats in seven towers, and each tower has five floors.
Arvind Vasava (42), who runs a small tailor shop, also shifted to the new flat with his six-member family in May. He too rued the lack of basic facilities in the new colony. “Houses don’t have facilities like drinking water. We get water on alternate days which we need to stock,” he said, adding that residents now want to shift back to Navi Nagri where they had been living for over 60 years.
Though the residents said that lack of basic facilities forced them to attack the corporator, Vadodara Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao termed the attack “motivated”.
“This complaint of lack of drinking water is baseless. Like any another part of the city, there is water connection in the colony and water comes three times a day. The families had happily accepted the houses, and our city engineers regularly check the facilities there,” Rao said, adding that the families had even paid the initial instalment of Rs 21,000 for their houses under the Rajiv Awaas Yojana.
Meanwhile, the police are probing the role of a newly launched group, Bhilistan Lion Sena (BLS), into Tuesday’s attack on the corporator. The flags of the outfit were seen at the place where the corporator was allegedly tied to a tree and beaten up.
The outfit was launched by one Sahid Mansuri, who was earlier associated with Bhilistan Tiger Sena (BTS) led by JD(U) MLA Chhotu Vasava.
Asha Vasava, the president of the women wing of the BLS, is among the 38 women arrested and sent to judicial custody.
Mansuri, however, refuted claims that his outfit was involved in the attack. “This is a conspiracy of Bhilistan Tiger Sena to defame us since they are not happy with the launch of our outfit,” Mansur told The Indian Express. He condemned the attack on Patel and said that they work constitutionally “without taking law in our hands”.
According to him, BLS is a non-political outfit which was launched on October 2 with around 400 members. “We will work for the issues and problems faced by Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and OBCs. We will fight constitutionally, and that’s why we have put Dr. Babasaheb Amebedkar’s image in our symbol,” he said.