The North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s drive to “decongest” a densely populated area by dismantling two under-construction primary healthcare centres, allegedly built on encroached land, has left several residents seething.
Over the last two days, the MCD has dismantled two under-construction mohalla clinics, the AAP’s flagship primary healthcare initiative, near Karol Bagh’s Bapa Nagar, a neighbourhood housing hundreds of poor families.
On Friday, The Indian Express found men playing cards at the proposed site of one of the dismantled clinics. Labourers were busy clearing up another site, usually used for parking vehicles.
The Delhi government claims the proposed clinics were coming up on PWD roads, while the North MCD justifies its action, citing the lack of a No Objection Certificate.
At a joint press conference, the three mayors accused the AAP government of indulging in “false propaganda” over the issue. “Kejriwal’s false propaganda that the North civic body demolished the mohalla clinic is baseless. PWD has clear directions that wherever there is a road which is 60 feet or more in width, permission should be sought from the traffic police and Municipal Corporation to set up mohalla clinics,” said North DMC mayor Adesh Gupta.
With the BJP at the helm of the civic body, the demolition is set to snowball into a poll issue. “We don’t care if MCD owns the road or the Delhi government does. Par clinic banni chaiye thi,” Kashmeera, a resident of Bapa Nagar, said. Her son, the family’s only earning member, is a driver.
Leela, a homemaker whose husband is employed as a caretaker, said residents of the neighbourhood have to depend on private clinics or RML Hospital as a last resort. Asked if the mohalla clinic in Regar Pura a few blocks away does not serve their needs, she said: “Mohalla clinic toh apni mohalle mein honi chaiye.”
Karol Bagh MLA Vishesh Ravi said there are three mohalla clinics in his constituency, including the one at Regar Pura. He said apart from the demolished ones, eight more clinics are coming up on Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and DUSIB land.
“There’s high demand for affordable primary healthcare here. The operational clinics are visited by 250-300 patients daily. Since a government department was involved, MCD should have informed authorities in writing or served notices before stopping work and demolishing,” Ravi said.
AAP said the dismantled clinics were to serve Bapa Nagar and areas like Anand Parvat, home to marginalised families in cramped building blocks.
Shukumar, a resident of the area, insisted that “politics ought to be kept out of issues such as healthcare”.