Children worst affected by displacement: study

December 07, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 06:00 am IST - Mumbai:

After getting rehabilitated in the eastern suburb of Mankhurd, Rajan Aiyer’s two sons failed their annual examinations in school last year. The children could never make it in time to school, more than a kilometre away in Chembur. The road connecting their home and the main road was dug up and barely functional. “Life was better in the slum we lived in south Mumbai before being shifted out to make way for an infrastructure project,” he says.

The Aiyer family was one of 20,000 people to have been displaced to make way for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). Children have apparently been among the worst and most silent sufferers of the Project, showed a study conducted by the Tate Institute of Social Sciences. The study, authored by researcher Simpreet Singh, was undertaken over a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013 and aimed to see the impact of MUTP of children.

The most direct impact has been on children’s education, according to the study, with a vast majority of children (66 per cent) shifting their school after relocation.

The distance between their new homes and the original school was anywhere between one and five km on an average. More than half of the children spent over Rs. 500 a month on commute. They were exposed to risks like crossing highways or railway track on their way to school.

The MUTP was conceptualised during the period 1994-2002 with a vision to meet the increasing transport demands of Mumbai.

Most people were rehabilitated in the eastern suburbs’ most polluted areas and near a dumping ground leading to 73 per cent of them saying cleanliness was worse than before.

“It is expected that with the shift from ‘slums’ which have poor environmental conditions to pucca buildings that are more hygienic, there would be a reduction in illnesses and lesser expenditures on health care. But that did not happen,” said Mr. Singh.

Health facilities lacking

Sixty seven per cent people spoke of the absence of health facilities near home. Fifty six per cent fell sick at least once since relocation, one-fourth of them due to poor quality of water and 10 per cent due to lack of hygiene in their environment.

Another intangible effect of resettlement was that about 57 per cent of the parents felt that they were unable to take care of their children because they spent most of the time travelling to work. While water in most homes came only for half an hour, almost every girl child said that she had to accompany her mother to a far spot to carry water on her head.

The study highlighted the importance of safeguarding the rights of children.

The most direct impact has been on education, according to the study, with a vast majority of children (66 per cent%) shifting their school after relocation

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