A keen tussle is on the cards between the Congress and the BJP in the Greater Kailash constituency where pent-up anger among the residents has forced Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to announce dismantling of the controversial Bus Rapid Transit corridor which has been blamed for the traffic woes of the area.
Besides traffic congestion, car-parking, water-logging, sanitation, cleanliness, sewage and expansion of commercial activities in the residential areas are some other issues of concern.
The BJP has fielded incumbent MLA Vijay Kumar Malhotra’s son Ajay while the Congress has given a ticket to Virender Kasana and the Aam Admi Party has nominated Saurabh Bhardwaj.
People in the area have been demanding scrapping of the BRT corridor since its inception in 2008 though the Delhi Government had strongly defended the project. Now both the Congress and the BJP have promised to scrap the corridor between Ambedkar Nagar and Delhi Gate.
While the villages suffer from problems of rising water bills, poor roads and other basic amenities, the posh colonies of the area have different battles to fight. Rajiv Kakria, a resident of Greater Kailash, emphasises on the role of governance in addressing the issues affecting the people.
“With the relaxation of the master plan and encouraging people to build from bungalows to four-storey buildings, no corresponding thought has been given to drainage of water and parks. In areas like GK, the focus shifts from water, electricity and rising onion prices to problems of infrastructure, security and parking,” Mr. Kakria said.
In the upscale colonies, security is an important issue for the residents. The unrestricted movement of trucks in most localities causes security concerns. The rising instances of mobile phone and chain snatching are also a worry for the residents of Greater Kailash.
Burgeoning population has put a strain on the resources available to the people. The rise in the population has resulted in buildings being constructed to four floors.
Existing infrastructure like schools, parks and parking facilities fall grossly short of what should be provided in most areas of the constituency, said many residents.
Lack of parking space is another major issue for residents in almost all the areas of Greater Kailash. Be it the urban villages or the posh colonies, cars can be seen parked in cramped spaces.
The main contest is likely to be between the BJP and the Congress, though the Aam Aadmi Party has gained many supporters cutting across caste and party lines. A total of six candidates are in the fray in the constituency.
The Greater Kailash constituency comprises of posh colonies such as Alaknanda, GK-I and II, Panchsheel Enclave intermingled with the presence of urban villages like Zamrudpur, Savitri Vihar and Shahpur Jat and a few JJ clusters like Bindusar camp.
A section of the people seemed impressed with the promises the AAP was making. “We have always voted for either the BSP or the BJP, but this time we are going to vote for the AAP. We feel they will make a difference,” Neelam of Chirag Delhi said.
The emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party is a force which cannot be ignored in most urban villages in Delhi.
“The AAP candidate has been working really hard and has been meeting the residents of the area on a day-to-day basis. The other leaders come and meet only a few people and leave,” a resident of Shahpur Jat said.
The sitting BJP MLA’s name elicits a mixed response from the area voters as some said Mr. Malhotra did very little for the area while another section said as the legislator from the Opposition party he tried to do his best.
“Vijay Malhotra has done a lot for us. He got roads constructed and solved the other problems of the area. There is still a lot to be done but we are satisfied with his work,” Anguri Devi of Chirag Delhi said.
But another resident of Chirag Delhi, living a few lanes away from Anguri Devi, feels not much improvement has been done in the area. Be it Khirki extension or GK, the work done by Mr. Malhotra has been praised by some while he has been accused of indifference by others.
Those satisfied with Mr. Malhotra’s work seemed inclined to give his son Ajay, who has been given a ticket from the constituency, a chance.
The people in villages like Zamrudpur and Shahpur Jat referred to parking as a major issue. The residents have to park their vehicles far from their houses at night time, sometimes at the very outskirts of the localities, often leading to thefts. Increasing cost of living is also among the issues on the minds of most voters especially with no let-up in water and electricity tariff and food prices.
Chandu Lal Bhardwaj of Chirag Delhi complained of rising water bills. “We have paid Rs.17,000 for water. Even the electricity costs less,” he said.
“We pay 65 per cent of water bills as sewerage charges,” Trilok Sharma, his neighbour, quipped.
“We do not fall under the BPL category according to our income, but the high rents leave nothing for us in the end. Our ration card provides us only wheat. How are we to afford other food items,” Zubeida of Shahpur Jat said.
In parts of the constituency like Sant Nagar, Khirki Extension pockets of Chirag Delhi, bad roads make life difficult for people, especially during monsoon.
Khirki Extension R-Block RWA general secretary Dinesh Awasthy claimed the Association had to step in to fill in the lacunae left by the “lack of initiative” by the government to fix the problems of the area. He alleged the residents had to get the roads, sewer and pipelines laid down with their own money. The residents in villages said the by-lanes in their localities are too narrow to let in fire engines in times of emergency.
Lack of drains is another problem faced by the residents in certain urban villages. The drainage system in Greater Kailash, though present, is over 50 years old. The residents of Shahpur Jat too rued the absence of proper sewerage with open manholes visible in the area.
The total number of voters in the constituency is 1.4 lakh out of which around 79,000 are men and 67,000 are women.