218 new houses and education transform the once notorious ‘Bangladesh Colony’

Beside the blue-painted house stood Santhi, the proud owner. Time for her to forget the agonising days she had spent with her adolescent daughter at a notorious slum in the city. On Sunday, the two of them lit a lamp in their new house, and stepped into a new life.

Santhi used to live in a slum, the old ‘Bangladesh Colony,’ once a haven for anti-social elements and drug peddlers in the northern coastal area of Kozhikode. However, the site witnessed a transformation with the Santhi Nagar Model Village project, an initiative funded by the State government for the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy handed over keys to the beneficiaries on Sunday, putting a roof over 218 families.

An independent house had never figured in Santhi’s wildest dreams. “I sold lottery for a living. The income was barely enough for the education of my daughter and to meet the daily expenses,” she said.

Despite the poverty and piteous living conditions, the mothers in the slum were highly cooperative towards the educational programmes initiated by the district administration.

Impact of education

Many children from here study in various schools in the city. They led from the front in changing the slum’s reputation. “Five of our children go to school and we know that our life will change some day,” said Vimala Narayanan, another recipient of a house at Santhi Nagar. Her children were present to witness the handing-over ceremony of keys by Mr. Chandy. Jayasoorya Jaya and Soorya Kumar, the elder ones, were busy exploring their rooms.

The government had spent Rs.15 crore for the first phase of the project. In the second phase, 115 houses will be completed.

A. Pradeepkumar, MLA, said he would try for a special educational project for the children in the colony, including a computer lab and library. An amphitheatre too would be built utilising the MLA fund, he added. The MLA promised efforts to arrange free tuition by retired teachers for the colony’s children. “There are socially committed persons in the city and we must utilise them to educate these children,’’ he added.

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