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Crumbling buildings, dirty water choke Delhi minister's turf

November 26, 2013 14:42 IST

Dingy lanes, unsafe buildings and a teeming population jostling for space amid inadequate infrastructure -- welcome to Delhi Health Minister A K Walia's assembly constituency Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi.

One of the most thickly populated areas in the city, unregulated constructions and inadequate infrastructure are the major issues for over one lakh residents of the constituency.

Struggling with poor civic amenities, people in Laxmi Nagar said they have now learnt to live with these problems which have become part of their daily lives.

As if resigned to their fate, residents state that a new government will also fail to resolve any of their problems, which have become even more complex with time.

The unauthorised colonies in the constituency are a glaring example of unplanned urban growth and though the government had promised to put in place basic infrastructure, nothing has been done so far.

Majority of residents blamed Walia, who has been representing the constituency since 1993, for the "mess", while noting that the biggest worry for them has been unsafe buildings in the area.

The area has witnessed a number of building collapse incidents in the last few years, including one in Latika park area in November 16, 2010, in which nearly 70 people were killed.

Though the government had promised to retrofit the unsafe buildings, little has been done to address the issue.

Residents said in case of a fire incident or building collapse, rescuers will find it difficult to carry out operations in the area because of the narrow lanes.

"If a fire breaks out in the area, fire tenders won't be able to enter the inner lanes as they are narrow. I don't think a new government would be able to address these problems as things are beyond repair now," said Neetu Chawla, a resident.

Lack of parking space is another major problem facing the area.

"All the cars are parked on the roadside which affects traffic flow. It is difficult for us to walk through the roads. Parking is a major problem for us," said Gautam Chopra.

Poor civic amenities like lack of proper drainage system and overflowing sewage are other major problems.

"The choked drains behind my house overflow now and then and during the rainy season and the dirty water spills out on the road. The area behind my building is always full of sewage water," said Birbal, resident of Shakarpur area.

Despite being so close to Yamuna, the poor quality of drinking water is also a major issue for the people living here.

"The water supplied by the Delhi Jal Board is so dirty that we can't drink it. That is why we buy water here," said Suhas Kumar, a resident.

Ganesh Nagar resident Atul also complained about inadequate garbage disposal facilities.

Price rise, rising electricity and water tariff and corruption are other significant issues that may influence voters while casting their votes.

Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Laxmi nagar Abhay Verma said, "Walia, in the past 20 years, has done nothing for the area."

Verma also complained about inadequate security for women and children.

Aam Aadmi Party candidate Vinod Kumar Binny also complained of sewage and drinking water problems in the area which the residents, he said, have been struggling with for many years.

"Walia has been the health minister for the last 15 years, but ironically, there is not a single government hospital in the area. Even the dispensaries are in a bad condition. If doctors are available, medicines are not and when medicines are available, doctors are not there," Binny said.

Walia rejected the criticism, terming it as unfounded.

"We have carried out unprecedented development activities in the area. There are some problems in the area which will be resolved if we come back to power," he said, exuding confidence about his fifth consecutive victory.

Walia had polled 54,252 votes in the 2008 assembly polls against his BJP rival Murari Panwar's 31,855 votes.

As per the latest figure, the constituency has nearly 1.8 lakh voters, of which over 79,000 are women and 1.02 lakh are men.

Image: A rescue worker carries an injured girl to safety at the site of a building collapse in  Laxmi Nagar, Delhi in November 2010 ' Photograph: Reuters 

Payal Banerjee
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