Show begins at Kathputli Colony

The foundation ceremony for the in-situ rehabilitation of the Kathputli colony in Shadipur Depot on Sunday saw Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken,and local MLA Ramakant Goswami,among other dignitaries in attendance.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2009 12:35:26 am

First of slum rehab plans underway

The foundation ceremony for the in-situ rehabilitation of the Kathputli colony in Shadipur Depot on Sunday saw Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken,and local MLA Ramakant Goswami,among other dignitaries in attendance.

The colony,spanning 5.22 hectares,is one of the first to benefit from the in-situ slum rehabilitation scheme of August 2008 for the Capital’s jhuggi jhopri (JJ) clusters.

As the name suggests,most residents of the colony are puppeteers or craftsmen. Many are musicians,and play different percussion instruments like the dhol and tasha. Traditional Rajasthani arts like the kachchi ghodi (dancing horse) are practised.

“It makes sense to rehabilitate people in the area they live in because their livelihood depends on their location,” Maken said.

The residents will have access to 12-storeyed buildings in which the ground floors will be devoted to promoting artistic and commercial enterprise. The constructions will house 2,800 dwelling units meant for the colony’s residents.

“The flats will have two rooms for each family connected with a kitchen and a bathroom,” DDA Engineer Member B M Chugh said.

The site will also boast of a separate 2.1-acre commercial space to be developed by private developers and ‘high-category residential apartments’ in 2.4 acres which will help boost the earnings of artisans and craftsmen,according to the DDA’s plans. Goswami said,“A Dilli Haat type market will be created in the area to serve the artistes of the colony.”

In the scheme,modelled on Mumbai’s slum rehabilitation programme,private players will join hands with the government.

Speaking to Newsline after the function,the minister said financial tenders for the rehabilitation project had been opened and the order for construction would be given the next week. The rehabilitation plans were finalised by a private consultancy firm,he said. “Work should start in the next 20 days,” he informed.

The work of clearing the slums would proceed in phases.

“Tents will be pitched to provide temporary accommodation to the people till the project is completed,” he said.

“A site near the Sawatantra Bharat Mills,located two km from the slum,has been identified to set up temporary homes for more than 1,300 families,” Maken said.

The project has received a mixed response from residents. The consultancy that has planned the rehabilitation noted that only those with valid identification proof will be eligible for flats.

“Only 2,700 families have some sort of verifiable identification,though there are many more people in the area,” said Mitu Mathur,architect with Gian P Mathur and Associates.

Residents say that there are merely 10,000 families living in the area. Many have been here for over two decades.

“My ration card expired and I have been doing the rounds of the government office at Pusa Gate. How will we get housing without valid identification?” asked Meera Devi,45.

“I have identification and even a passport,but now my son is married with a family,and he doesn’t any ID proof. What will happen to us?” asked Jagdish,who claims to have represented India at cultural festivals in Dubai and Japan. But not all have apprehensions about the project. Sixty-year-old Lakshmibai can hardly contain her

excitement. “They will put us in tents for a while and then give us good flats,” she said,sounding thrilled. “Indira Gandhi came here and promised we will get our own houses one day,” she said.

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