Noida has developed into a modern city with the smooth roads that offer seamless travel, high rise buildings with state of the art technology, humongous parks with sprawling green grass-not to forget the one built by Mayawati which houses her own statue along with her mentor Kashi Ram and the great Dalit leader Dr. B.R Ambedkar, mega IT industries and upcoming real estate projects. However the city administration has forgotten about marginalized people living in the slums. These people live in some of the most dismal conditions without any basic facilities like healthcare, education, clean supply of water and electricity.
Many of these people were brought into the city as migrant labourers by the concerned authorities to help in the construction of roads, buildings, drainages and water tankers. They were the people directly responsible for the development of Noida. However thirty years down the line they still have to fight legal cases for their rights which have been denied to them. The civic authorities have made the matters worse by not providing them with basic facilities such as education and health which are the building blocks to a better future.
The slums in sectors 16, 17 and 18 are built near drainages. No fumigation of these areas has led to the drainages becoming a breeding ground for mosquitos and flies making the people in the slums prone to life threatening diseases like typhoid, malaria and dengue. The problem is further compounded by the lack of health facilities in the nearby areas. Residents of these slums have often complained to the authority but to no avail. According to Mohammad Julail who lives in the slums of sector 16, authority has taken no step to clean the drainages. In terms of healthcare, he says “there is a huge hospital nearby in sector 30 with the best facilities. However it only caters to the better-off people and often rejects or denies us good healthcare services by just looking at our clothes.”
Ritu Sinha who runs schools in various sectors for children living in slums and villages complains that the authority has failed to provide any education facility which she believes is a birth right of any child. She puts the onus of education of a child on the parents as well. She started a campaign called ‘kude kachde nahi uthane ka’.” It is not the responsibility of a child to collect garbage and earn money for the household. Either you don’t give birth to a child or take the responsibility of ensuring that you fulfil the child’s rights.” She complains that apart from schools the government has not provided any facility of clean water. “There were one or two hand pumps installed by the government which have stopped working and nobody has come to fix them. We have written letters to the all the concerned authorities regarding our grievances. We have also done dharna. However no government is willing to work for us” complains Sinha.
The slums of sector 16, 17 and 18 have also been excluded from a slum survey conducted by Noida Authority in 2008-09 to estimate the no. of people living in the slums. Later they used this survey to launch a welfare scheme to rehabilitate the people living in the slums. But people living in the slums of sectors 16, 17 and 18 will not benefit from the welfare scheme as they were not included in the survey. However Dr. M. Dixit whose story has been reported by Yuva Foundation previously vows to continue his fight against The Noida Authority. “We will keep reiterating our demands till we are also able to benefit from the schemes launched by the authority” says Dixit.
The people living in the slums of sectors other than 16, 17 and 18 are also leading lives devoid of any amenities. Kamlesh Sharma who lives in Nithari village faces the same problems as Mohammad Julail, Dr. M. Dixit and Ritu Sinha. Dirty surroundings and blocked drainage make the people in the slums prone to diseases. According to her apart from the main hospital in sector 30, there is no other health centre in the area. “Overpopulation is the biggest problem of the area” says Kamlesh. “More than 100 people live in one house. Thy dump their garbage in the drainage which blocks it. This often leads to overflowing of water onto the streets.”
Juxtapose the above accounts with RTI replies that have been received by Yuva Foundation from various departments of Noida Authority. In an RTI reply from the water department it has been found that the department has been divided into khands for administrative purposes with each khand catering to specific sectors and villages. Khands 2, 3, 4 and 5 which cater to most of the sectors report that they provide water via tubewells as well as tankers. No information was received from the remaining khands.
The health department similarly reported that there are 33 nursing homes/hospitals run by The Noida Authority.
The contradiction in the replies received by the Noida Authority and the responses from the people in the slums clearly depicts the failure of the authority in providing basic services. When Rajbala Pradhan, a lady who lives in a jhuggi in sector 11 was told that Noida Authority claims to provide water supply to her slum through water pipes, she completely refuted the claim saying “This slum is devoid of any water supply.”
But the most startling fact that has emerged from the RTI replies is that Noida Authority does not have any separate department for rehabilitation of people living in slums. It only exists on ad-hoc basis with where other departments of the authority are allocated duties of rehabilitation as and when the need arises. This is rather worrying given that so many people live in the slums devoid of any kind of facility. The insensitive approach of Noida Authority towards these people has left them on the fringes of the city.