A five-minute walk from Dwarka Sector 14 Metro station leads up to a field, with transmission towers, which opens up to rows of vacant apartments blocks on either side of the road.
Save for the occasional four-wheeler whizzing past, there is no sign of life in deserted Pocket 3 of Dwarka Sector 16 where the DUSIB built 2,004 flats for the economically weak.
It has been three years since the DUSIB completed constructing the buildings on Site II and Site III comprising 1,024 tenements back in 2013; and 980 in Phase 2 completed in 2016, of this southwest Delhi residential neighbourhood. The flats, roughly 350 sq ft in dimension, have not been allotted yet, officials said. They assure, the allotment will be made by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, the five-storey buildings, open to the vagaries of the elements, stand trapped in an old newness, built and ready to move in, yet gaping empty and unoccupied. The peach paint on the buildings is flaking in places, revealing sore red patches of brickwork. Pipelines are missing along walls, windows and doors are open, and dust cakes the walkways leading into the flats.
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“People nearby have been stealing pipe fittings. They sell the iron in the open market. Such expensive and well built property left open and unguarded for so many years is bound to be a treasure trove for thieves. Where in India will something like this not happen?” said Kailash Garg, manning his general store in the
urban village of Bharat Vihar, which sits cheek by jowl with the EWS flats.
It is not only the pipes which have been stolen. Electrical fittings from each of the 2,004 flats have also been wrenched out over the years. Shreds of what were once white plastic switch boards lie scattered under holes where MC wiring boxes were once fit in each of the flats. Each flat is secured with a main door which is bolted, though not padlocked.
“The MC box fittings, wires and conduits have been stolen from each of the flats. People scale the walls and steal everything. Five guards are manning a compound of hundreds of vacant flats with no one to raise an alarm. Anyone can walk in, slide the bolt and take away whatever they wish,” said a guard on condition of anonymity. Another guard, the only one to guard one of the EWS building premises, said, “I guard the premises all day and night but I have to catch some sleep. How much can a guard do? Last week, guards in the neighbouring building caught three men stealing goods from one of the flats. Two escaped but the third, from a village nearby, was handed over to police. When the villagers found out, they gheraoed the guards and the police. The man was let off eventually.”
Guards at the premises cited losses in thefts amounting to Rs 15 lakh. DUSIB officials denied knowledge of an exact loss due to thefts . “We are yet to complete our survey. We will install all fittings and complete repair work before the handover to the eligible slum-dwellers. Since the flats are vacant, these thefts are not a surprise. Once people move in, all this will stop,” said a DUSIB official.
The losses due to thefts forced the government to replace a security agency this year. Security agencies have been writing to the DUSIB authorities, many of who work from an office complex built inside.