Residents of Arjun Das Camp, a slum in south Delhi, had a narrow escape Monday night when a barricade separating them from a construction site of the East Kidwai Nagar redevelopment project collapsed on their shanties. The narrow settlement is sandwiched between the redevelopment site with towering structures and the under-construction Barakhamba flyover. It houses about 300 families.
Around 11 pm during the squall, a portion of the 50-60 ft tall barricade collapsed on about 70 shanties. Nobody was injured, though residents have since aired concerns about the incident.
Ramkumar (52), a resident, claimed, “We are fortunate that there was no electricity here last night, or there could have been a calamity. There are power cables passing under the barricade which fell on the houses as well.”
The East Kidwai Nagar redevelopment project is run by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC). On Tuesday morning, some residents went to the NBCC’s Lodhi Road office, requesting them to remove the collapsed barricade. Till Tuesday afternoon, it had not been removed.
When contacted, R K Aggarwal, an executive director of NBCC, said he was unaware of the incident. After calling the site in-charge, he said the barricade would be removed and strengthened by Wednesday morning. “We don’t want any damage to be caused to nearby JJ clusters by our work,” he said.
Residents of Arjun Das Camp, which falls under the jurisdiction of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), have often complained of poor living conditions and a foul smell perpetually emanating from the Khushak Nallah. The settlement is due for a joint survey by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and the SDMC starting May 22, to move towards rehabilitation of residents.
Following Monday’s incident, residents and the Basti Suraksha Manch sent a letter to the SDMC, DUSIB, Deputy Commissioner of Police of Hauz Khas police station and the project director of the redevelopment site demanding that the survey and rehabilitation procedure be expedited, given the precarious living situation at the settlement. As a short-term solution, they also demanded that barricades be strengthened as they fear more storms in the near future.