The construction of transit camps to house 2,800 families living in Kathputli Colony near Shadipur Depot in West Delhi, where the Delhi Development Authority in collaboration with Raheja Developers has planned an in situ slum redevelopment project, is progressing fast at Baljeet Nagar in Anand Parbhat where semi-permanent structures that are expected to last between three and five years are being erected. The residents will have to live in Anand Parbhat for at least two years during redevelopment of the colony.
The redevelopment project, which was announced in October 2009, failed to take off after the DDA found it impossible to set up transit camps at a number of locations it had initially identified. At each of these places, local people and politicians opposed the rehabilitation of a slum cluster in their neighbourhood, even if only on a temporary basis.
Finally the DDA zeroed in on vacant land it owned near the Ramjas Grounds at Anand Parbhat. Though all the nearby land in the vicinity was encroached upon during the past few decades, this piece of land survived intact due to its undulating and hilly terrain. While the presently earmarked strip of land can accommodate 1,500 dwelling units, the DDA plans to pitch the remaining 1,300 units on an adjacent hillock. But before this, the land-owning agency would have to clear rudimentary plastic sheet structures held aloft by wooden sticks and logs that encroachers have only recently erected on the hillock.
Adjacent to this hillock is a jhuggi-jhonpri cluster that was demolished by the DDA in March last year, but following a stay obtained from the Delhi High Court by civil rights groups most of the jhuggis have sprung back here.
The dwelling units in the transit camp are one-room tenements measuring approximately 12x8 feet. Electricity connections, plug-points and switchboards are being installed in all the structures, but for water the incoming residents will have to depend on tankers. Workers at the site say a tube-well is being bored. While the walls are made of three-inch-thick concrete sheets, the roofs are made of tin sheets with false ceiling.
Before starting construction work, a lot of time and effort went into levelling the surface. The dwelling units are being constructed along several parallel rows -- each varying between 25 to 50 metres in length -- comprising 20-30 tenements per row. Four bathrooms are provided at both ends of each row. For toilet facilities, a DDA official said portable toilets would be installed as providing sewage and water connection for the temporary structure was not feasible.
The official said the work which began in December can be completed by April-end and that the agency is aiming to relocate the Kathputli Colony residents here by May, before the rainy season.
The 30-square-metre flats for the slum-dwellers that Raheja Developers is building in the 5.22 hectare colony will come up on 15-storey towers. The flats will be given free of cost to the slum-dwellers. On the remaining land, Rahejas will develop and sell high-end residential flats besides a commercial complex having approximately 2.8 lakh square feet saleable area. The plans for the redeveloped colony include crèches, a dispensary, a primary and secondary school, Kendriya Bhandar outlet, a multi-purpose community hall, and a park modelled on large co-operative group housing societies.
The DDA is also video-graphing each eligible family in front of its present dwelling unit to ensure that when the EWS flats are completed there will not be any instance of impersonation.
The agency has identified 21 other slum clusters for redevelopment.