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‘Govt should focus on rehab of slum dwellers instead of victimising them for political gains’

Friday, 17 September 2021 | Purnima Bisht | Dehradun

Despite the announcements of various schemes to rehabilitate the slum dwellers, successive state governments in Uttarakhand have failed to fulfil these due to vote bank politics. Rather than rehabilitating them, the parties continue to victimise them and exploit their situation to garner the maximum votes during elections. The government has even recently extended the ordinance to provide temporary relief to slum dwellers for three years rather than doing the needful at ground level to rehabilitate them. This trend is also adversely affecting the environment besides affecting the lives of slum dwellers.

Rampyari, a 40-year old slum dweller near Rispana river in Adhoiwala said that the water enters her home every year during the monsoon and there is no toilet nearby but the families living there have no other place to live. “We were told a few years ago by some political leaders that we will be given houses if their party wins. We voted for them but nobody has even taken a peek here since then,” she said.

On the question of whether they are aware of the schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) under which the government can facilitate homes for them, most of the slum dwellers denied having any knowledge about it.  Others said that they have heard about it but do not know anything about the procedure. Social activist and founder of Social Development for Communities (SDC) foundation, Anoop Nautiyal said that the lack of serious attitude of the authorities towards the slum dwellers has made it a big urban issue across the state. He said that there are lakhs of people living in slums in Dehradun alone and the political parties see them as major vote banks. “Currently, the government does not have any plan to rehabilitate the slum dwellers. The political parties need a long term plan by rising over their short term political aims. The slums here are quite vulnerable to climatic conditions which can lead to a catastrophe too and planned work must be done to avoid it,” said Nautiyal.

Dehradun based activist Lokesh Ohri also stated that authorities assure slum dwellers of proper rehabilitation but their conditions remain the same. “Most of them living near the rivers do not have proper drainage and sewerage treatment system due to which their untreated sewage goes into the rivers that contaminate the Ganga river,” stated Ohri. He said that the government is spending a fortune on projects like Namami Gange but nothing is actually being done at the ground level to make it a success. He said that rather than victimising slum dwellers, authorities should focus on proper rehabilitation of slum dwellers which can solve many interconnected issues in the state.

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