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Beyond Broken Promises: Kusumpur Pahari's Silent Struggle for Survival

A closer look at the marginalised community of Kusumpur Pahari and their relentless struggle for basic necessities amidst years of neglect in the heart of Delhi.

By Pragynesh
New Update

In Delhi's bustling metropolis, nestled near the affluent neighbourhood of Vasant Vihar, lies a settlement shrouded in stark socio-economic disparity. The people of Kusumpur Pahari battle against huge challenges on a daily basis. From inadequate housing and limited access to basic services to the struggle for education and employment opportunities, they face a relentless battle against adversity. 

Kusumpur Pahari is one of the poorest areas of the national capital and this story unravels the untold struggles of a community striving for a better future amidst the backdrop of a city that often turns a blind eye to their plight.

Water Crisis

In the midst of poverty and neglect, the residents confront the harsh reality of unfulfilled promises and deteriorating infrastructure. Trapped in a cycle of broken commitments from the government entrusted with their well-being, their struggle for a better life persists against overwhelming odds.

The most pressing issue haunting the people of Kusumpur Pahari is the severe water crisis. Water cans fill the shacks, line the streets, and crowd the narrow lanes. With no access to water connections, the residents rely on tankers for their water supply. Shockingly, they are even charged for a resource that the government claims to provide free of cost.

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Savita Devi, a resident of Kusumpur Pahari, shares her experience, "It's been 30 years since I've been staying here. During rains, the drains overflow. There are worms in the sewage lines. We don't get drinking water. Tankers come to us, but we have to pay 10 rupees to fill each of our water cans from the government tanker. This is a bribe that needs to be paid to the person who drives the tanker. The government says the water is free, but that's not the reality."

The residents not only suffer from a lack of clean water but also from the unhygienic conditions caused by infested sewage lines. When asked if someone comes to clean the sewage lines, Savita Devi replies, "No one comes. They don't even spray medicines."

Access to proper healthcare is another challenge faced by the community. While the government claims to have made arrangements for hospitals, many residents opt for private options due to the long queues and waiting times. Sheela, another resident, explains, "The problem is that we must wait in long queues for two to three hours. It's not possible for us. We go for private options and to small local doctors."

Water Wars

Water scarcity in Kusumpur Pahari has created a fierce competition among the residents. Meena, a resident, reveals, "When people don't get water, they fight. They beat each other up for water." Rajo, another resident, shares, "We have to keep fighting with each other for water. If we fight, we get water. If we don't fight, we don't get water. If we give money to the tanker guys, we get water. Otherwise, we don’t".

The absence of toilets in numerous homes and shacks further exacerbates the living conditions. Mukesh, a resident, explains, "Earlier, we used to go to the fields for defecation. We used to do it in the open. Even the public toilets are not always open. That is why many people have dug holes in their homes. People who have money can get the holes dug. But the other side of that is, today, their houses are heavily infested with cockroaches."

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Unheard Pleas. Unkept Promises.

Residents complain that the presence of police in their neighbourhood is scarce, leaving them feeling vulnerable and unprotected. Dinesh Kumar, a resident, reveals, "If a murder or some crime takes place here, only then do the police come. But if we call the police otherwise, they don't come. The ones who write the complaint keep saying they will come, but they arrive only after a crime has occurred."

Politicians, on the other hand, only seem to grace the neighbourhood during election seasons, making grand promises that are quickly forgotten once the votes are secured. Ramvati, a disillusioned resident, expresses her frustration, saying, "What can we do with a complaint? People come here promising us that they will get the area cleaned. They make empty promises. They come during elections. They take our votes and then go away."

When confronted about these issues, the local MLA, Naresh Yadav, acknowledges the presence of a "tanker mafia" in the past but asserts that his government has successfully eradicated it. However, his claims of significant improvement in the situation in Kusumpur Pahari seem out of touch with reality.

Yadav shares, "When I became the MLA of this constituency in 2015, I found that the water problem was the biggest issue plaguing this area. We had to tackle the 'tanker mafia' and ensure that the tankers directly supplied water to the people." However, residents still report being charged for water that is supposed to be free, a fact that the MLA denies. He urges affected residents to come forward and file complaints, seemingly unaware that their grievances have already been shared.

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The disconnect between the local representative and the ground reality is evident. Yadav suggests that people file complaints and attend the "Janta Darbars" organised by his office, where the Delhi Jal Board authorities are present to address water-related issues. However, residents feel unheard and believe their complaints go unnoticed.

The people of Kusumpur Pahari deserve access to basic amenities and a government that actively addresses their concerns beyond election campaigns. In the heart of the national capital, they strive for a life where clean water flows freely, proper sanitation is guaranteed, and their voices are not only heard but acted upon.