Kathputli Colony: Life at the transit camp

Some women The Indian Express spoke to said they find that the camp is not just unsafe but also restrictive. An alleged rape in the camp just 10 days ago has increased people’s fears.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: November 4, 2017 9:08:23 pm
Kathputli Colony,raheja developers, Kathputli Colony redevelopment, transit camp, Delhi Masterplan 2021, puppeteers, india news, latest news, delhi news Approximately 2,800 families are to be relocated from Kathputli Colony to a transit camp in Anand Parbat, set up by Raheja Developers. Express Photo by Abhinav Saha

Life at the transit camp in Anand Parbat, located 4.8 km from Kathputli Colony, is different for different people. At the outset, the camp looks cleaner than Kathputli Colony. For some of the 1,200-odd families that have moved here since February 2014, the shift has been nothing less than they hoped for. But for several others, day-to-day lives have been affected, if not their work.

Some women The Indian Express spoke to said they find that the camp is not just unsafe but also restrictive. An alleged rape in the camp just 10 days ago has increased people’s fears. Entry to the camp is restricted, even more so at night.

“We are dancers. We come back from work around10 pm, or sometimes by 3-4 am. In our colony, everyone understands and accepts this. But here, the gate shuts at 10 pm. How can people like us earn a living? A person like me will be called names,” says a former dancer, who has now stopped working.

The transit camp has 2,800 one-room units made of aerocon panels, with 40 mobile toilets and 200 fixed toilets. It also has four tanks of 50 kl capacity each, and a sewage water treatment plant. CCTV cameras are everywhere and visitors are allowed after much enquiry. Mediapersons, especially, are accompanied into the camp by a representative of the builder.

katptli A total of 527 families moved to the camp in Anand Parbat in 2014. Express Photo by Abhinav Saha.

Aneeja, a slum-dweller who shifted to Anand Parbat, says she is happy that there isn’t sewage water flowing everywhere, but says the camp has problems of its own.

“We’re not aware of any primary school in the compound; we have to send our kids to Pandav Nagar. Water also comes once a day. Sometimes it’s yellow-coloured and stinks,” she says.

A woman at the camp who did not wish to be identified, said, “We were one of the first families to move here and we risked a lot for it. People in our locality didn’t talk to us properly and kept telling us to stay back, but we wanted a better life. Ours is a huge family — back in Kathputli we stayed in three homes, but here we have been stuffed into one room. While we were filling in consent slips, DDA officials told us they would work out the issue once we reached the camp, but till now nobody has come here to help us.”

However, several others say they are content at the transit camp. “We are very happy here, much more than we were at Kathputli. There is no filth, so small issues don’t matter so much. Even if we don’t get to go back, we’ll be happy here,” says Asgar.

Pataasi Bhatt — the women’s head of Kathputli Colony, who also signed a slip for relocation — feels that those being funded by foreign NGOs are the ones creating obstacles. “For us, it’s a clear case of trusting the government and DDA versus trusting the NGOs working here. The latter have done nothing for us. They just take money in our name,” she says.

Puran Bhatt, another old resident of the slum, also feels that some vested interests have been keeping the community on the boil.

Kathputli Colony,raheja developers, Kathputli Colony redevelopment, transit camp, Delhi Masterplan 2021, puppeteers, india news, latest news, delhi news DDA officials demolish houses vacated by those who shifted to the camp. Abhinav Saha

“We are not saying that there cannot be valid apprehensions with regard to the contract or the camp. But people and their representatives should engage with authorities and try to find a solution,” he says.

Dilip Bhatt, the pradhan of the Bhatt community, is the man the DDA, the developers, and the other pradhans believe is keeping the pot boiling for his own interests. DDA officials have even claimed that Bhatt owns several jhuggis in his name and gets money from foreign NGOs to keep the colony “filthy”.

Bhatt, however, refuted the allegations. “Let there be an enquiry into whether I’m getting funds from NGOs or if I own 10 jhuggis. Let the DDA or other pradhans prove this allegation. I have just one jhuggi. My only fault is that I haven’t sold out to the authorities like some other pradhans,” he says.

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