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Pushed to the wall, they made a difference

Swathi V.
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United effort by slum dwellers at Rasoolpura helps remove dump yard near school

US Consulate-General Michael Mullins going through the exhibits at the Rasoolpura Government school during World Water Day celebrations in Hyderabad on Friday.– Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
US Consulate-General Michael Mullins going through the exhibits at the Rasoolpura Government school during World Water Day celebrations in Hyderabad on Friday.– Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

The dump yard site near the Government High School in Rasoolpura had a high-profile visitor on Friday, a foreign dignitary.

And when US Consul-General Michael Mullins came visiting, to inaugurate an exhibition by schoolchildren on water conservation, the school’s milieu stood radically different from what it was only four months ago.

It was a hopping and wading exercise for the children every morning then – the approach to the school existed only through the dump yard, which was filled with cesspools and garbage mounds.

Now, with a compound wall and skirted by municipal plantation, the children literally breathe fresher every morning.

It was not corporate social responsibility, nor NGO funding that helped clear the dump yard from the area. Local slum dwellers, who united under the ‘Basthi Vikas Manch’, achieved it after two years of dogged pursuit.

“We gave many representations to the authorities. We first approached the GHMC, and were directed to the Secunderabad Cantonment Board. Though we made many rounds of the latter, there was no response. Exasperated, we boycotted Children’s Day celebrations last year, and sat on the garbage heap in protest,” recounted Shaikh Nayeem, a representative of the BVM.

The response after that was quick, and the dump yard was cleared swiftly. BVM memb-ers then forced the school authorities to unlock the defu-nct school toilets, as the dump yard was being used by students for relieving themselves.

The site could now be used for rainwater harvesting or for compost pits, supported by NGO SACI Waters.

“The slum dwellers would approach the corporator earlier for every small problem, and they would never be resolved. Through BVM, community members were mobilised, and pressure was exerted on the bureaucracy, which yielded results,” said Aliya Khatoon, a member of SACI Waters.

Friday’s exhibition, on the eve of World Water Day, saw 150 students from five schools participate. They displayed models of rainwater harvesting, water conservation. Mr. Mullins appreciated their effort, and said the Consulate would promote water conservation technologies.

Through BVM, community members were mobilised, and pressure was exerted on the bureaucracy, which yielded results

Aliya Khatoonsocial activist


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