For over two decades, residents of Shivlok Colony in Haridwar constituency have been putting up with the stench of waste water, garbage and noise from a slum settlement in the neighbourhood. A slum colony has come up on BHEL land though a caution board stands just next to it stating that anyone encroaching BHEL land shall be prosecuted. The residents have complained repteadly but action is yet to be taken by the local authorities. Anti-encroachment drive undertaken by BHEL several times has also proved futile.
To add to the civic woes, a dumping zone is also expanding hardly 50 metres away from where municipal corporation waste collection vans pour out their collection. The residents have to suffer the bad odour and unhygienic conditions throughout the day. Not only aesthetic view is destroyed but encroachment is also posing threat to residents from settlers whose identities are not always verified by the authorities. Incidents like petty thefts and noise have increased due to this.
Built in 1993, Shivlok was once a posh colony of the city having central location with Rajaji National Park boundary stretching along just a few metres away giving a green cover. The colony is approved by Haridwar Roorkee Development Authority and has good structure with ambient parks for each block. But over the past few years, the slum dwellers have made the residents of this colony take to alternate option of relocating themselves to some other township.
Many motor mechanic workshops have been opened and the open space adjoining the colony has been occupied by cars demanding repairs and scrap scattered around. The residents complain that many times the domesticated animals of the slum dwellers enter their houses and parking areas and the area remains littered with plastic waste and grunting of pigs welcomes anyone entering the colony. Abandoned cows too make their presence felt every now and then searching for green grass in parks and water pools.
While the encroached land of BHEL where the slum houses have come up has been vacated many times, soon after they are occupied when festivals approach. Observers also say that the local political leaders have an influence over the administrative bodies and whenever some stringent action is started by the local body, it is stopped by some politico.
Rajeev Bhatnagar, former township administrator of BHEL said, “Many times notices have been slapped on these illegal occupants on BHEL land next to Shivlok and water works colony, but problem is persistent. BHEL carried out anti encroachment drive after legal action but soon after the nomadic people come again building their shacks. A permanent solution needs to be sought since every time a mela arrives the police vacate Kumbh land and open space near Har ki Paidi area and these shelter less people come and occupy this land. Haridwar being a city of fairs and fests, it has become a cyclic process.”
Local resident Ajay Arora complains, “Before every election party candidates come and make false promises of removing encroachment but nothing happens. Multiple problems having arisen with this vacant piece of BHEL land which has been encroached by slum dwellers and car mechanics. We have planned to relocate elsewhere very soon. Way back two decades ago when we had bought this house in colony, it seemed to be the best in the whole area. Developed by HRDA, the colony was clean, well maintained with no overcrowding since parks face every phase in the colony and there is ample green cover. But over a period of time, we have been forced to live with poor stinking surroundings, noisy neighbours and stray animals.”
Teacher Seema Thakur said, “
Noise is all time high, leave alone the residents but also from the pet animals tied with string which keep on making noise throughout the day. Just a few days ago we had to call police at night when one family had terrible fight on account of the resident labourer having come drunk at night. We are forced to hear the shrieks of men and animals especially pigs which are reared for meat. The stale food brought from hotels is fed to these animals and when they are killed for meat, the shrieks become intolerable to us.”
Another local, Geeta Sethi laments, “I have rented space to run my cosmetic parlour. Many women from this colony who come to me for beauty treatments complain that it has become scary to leave home during the day. The people occupying the neighbourhood plot of land steal away their belongings if left outside in courtyard. The workers work in night shifts and during day time they rest in their shacks. Sometimes wheels are removed from the cars parked outside the houses at night time. We have made lot of complaints to the police and now a police checkpost has been made inside the colony.”
City mayor Anita Sharma said,
“Since the slum dwellers are on BHEL’s land they must initiate action by writing to us. As far as animal nuisance is concerned, we have already written to officials including MNA to take action and remove those stray animals especially pigs roaming around on streets of the colony.”
Monday, 08 April 2019 | PNS | Haridwar