State

No expectations from political parties in Assembly elections- slum dwellers

Saturday, 15 January 2022 | Purnima Bisht | Dehradun

Even though over 15 per cent population of the total urban population in Uttarakhand are slum dwellers, many of them opined that political parties only view them as vote banks and use them for campaign activities rather than fulfilling their years-old promise of providing them with their own homes. As per the Primary Census Abstract for Slum, Census of India-2011, the percentage of slum population in the urban population of the state is 15.99 per cent and there are about three lakh people living in the slums in Dehradun. This number has increased in the past many years along with the issues of these citizens. Most of these slums in Dehradun are located near the Rispana and Bindal rivers that put the lives of the dwellers at risk during every rainy season but no substantial steps have been taken by successive governments in the state to address the issue. According to most of the slum dwellers of Dehradun, they have stopped expecting any improvement in their living conditions by political parties who promise to turn around their life before every election. According to a 28-year-old slum dweller in Adhoiwala, Guddu, he sees the elections as an opportunity to earn some extra bucks rather than an opportunity to bring considerable improvement in their lives. He said, “I have spent my childhood in this slum and not much has changed here and I do not think it is going to change anytime soon. I only see the elections as a way to earn some extra money. Party workers of different political parties approach us and pay us to be part of the rallies and campaigns. Many slum dwellers are approached to do this and they do it because it is easy money, especially during the Covid times when all are facing a financial crisis.”

One of the slum dwellers living near Rispana River, Gabbu Lal said, “My two children were almost swept away in the river about two years ago after heavy rain. Only my family and god know how we managed to save them that day. Since then, we have started putting a big iron storage box on our bed during monsoon and make our children sleep on it to avoid the potential danger after a downpour. It is certainly not a typical way to ensure their safety but this is the best we can do. Successive governments have promised to provide us flats in safe localities but I am still living here for the past 15 years.” He said that they do not expect the government to give them big houses but just a small house where their children can live safely. Another slum dweller in the Adhoiwala area, Rubina said that political parties consider slum dwellers as their vote banks and use them during election rallies and campaigns but never fulfill their promise after winning the elections.  “How many times an MLA or other leaders come to visit us after they win the elections? They almost never come among us but when the elections are around the corner, different party workers come to us to ask about whether we have voter cards or not. They ask us to call them if we need any help. Despite all this, none of the parties has worked for our welfare after forming the government. We do not even seek good jobs, education or other things like they promise during the elections because we have stopped expecting anything from them. All we want is a better place to live or at least regularise our homes so that we do not get bullied by authorities to leave the slums every year.”

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