Has the “slum-free” agenda failed in providing proper rehabilitation East Delhi houses most of the slums in Delhi and when the prestigious designation of 2010 Commonwealth Games was awarded, the future of the residents of East Delhi looked bright because of the infrastructure upgrade the games required. The government announced a plan to create resettlement colonies, which were important for the slum dwellers that had been living illegally for years. With nearly a decade gone by, the “slum free” agenda of the government seems to have failed miserably. The old slums in Delhi have more or less disappeared, but the rehabilitation of the slum dwellers has not been completed.
It is about time that the NGOs come together and ensure that a roadmap can be drawn where the accountable agencies as well as the
watchdogs, including the local NGOs to ensure that the best interest of the poor is served. What has been heard in various quarters is that it is important that the task of resettlement and the implementation of the roadmap.
The big events such as Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games provide a platform so that substantial urban infrastructure is developed. Any development for urban infrastructure can only happen when the land is reclaimed or well-located urban land can be formally occupied. So it came that Delhi planned all these things, plus a new International airport terminal. It has been observed that major infrastructure upgrades are required in all the major cities in the World. The metro construction has been a godsend as it has been helpful in ensuring the smooth commute of the larger populace. But when the government is creating these urban infrastructures, then they should be taking into account the cost involved for forced evictions and permanent displacement.
What is also observed is that the government has all the intention to settle the poor. They do not run away from their responsibility of being a welfare state. But what is disturbing is to see that when the government and its agencies work towards more pressing projects, like completion of stadiums and finishing other welfare projects like the public transport system, it becomes extremely difficult for them to ensure the successful completion of one, majorly at cost of the other, case in point the rehabilitation of the slum dwellers.
Many experts feel that for massive relocation, it is important to have the NGOs involved, who can ensure the last mile implementation and assist the government in rehabilitating the slum dwellers. The local NGOs then do not have to be worried about being looked upon as outsiders, who are trying to sabotage the living shelters of slum dwellers, au contraire they are then believed to be someone amongst them, bringing about positive changes. The NGOs also have the capacity, the voice and skills to hold government accountable, incase of
non-compliance of the policies. If the Delhi government had outsourced last mile delivery of education, housing and sewage connections to private community- based organizations from the start of the resettlement process, it could have built a better community.
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