118 years of Trust Chandigarh Heartbeat THE TRIBUNE
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Saturday, December 19, 1998





Slums mushrooming in City Beautiful

By Lovkesh Kumar

A blot on Le Corbusier's dreamland. Photo by Gautam SinghTHERE was a time when the City Beautiful was known as a city of flowers and was considered the Paris of India. But with the mushrooming of slums and jhuggis in and around Chandigarh, the city has become as dirty as any other city in the country.

The green open spaces which Le Corbusier had reserved for the City Beautiful in the original plan have shrunk. Like the other towns, the city is getting crowded with haphazard constructions, both authorised and unauthorised. The once open public spaces have now been converted into slums.

The authorities concerned have not been able to check the usurpation of these spaces by encroachers, particularly from labour colonies. A massive portion of the reserved forest has been taken over by Colony IV residents. Similarly, a major chunk of the open space in Sector 31 has been encroached upon.

The spread of unauthorised colonies, a cancerous growth, are in utter violation of the Capital project. They have defeated the very purpose for which the city was built. According to conservative estimates, 200 acres of prime estate have been encroached upon.

The problem of mushrooming jhuggis and colonies aided by political interest and official collusion has assumed alarming proportions and put a tremendous strain on the city itself.

There are some reasons for the growth of these slums. Being the capital of two states, offices are situated in the city. Many officers and others are living here as it is supposed to be a clean and unpolluted city.

Bureaucratic pressure had led to the growth of a white collar class and the subsequent increase in the demand for domestic workers. Moreover, the expansion of the industrial and commercial activity has made a significant contribution to the haphazard growth of the city.

This growth demands cheap labour, both skilled and semi-skilled.

Since, they are not in a position to purchase or hire accommodation in the city, they have no choice but to live in slums which gives are both affordable and secure. The "dadas" of the jhuggis give security to persons living here and get the rent for the jhuggi. There are dozens of such colonies in and around Chandigarh.

The open spaces around the slums and jhuggis are used by the people for defecation and for throwing garbage. Heaps of garbage, stagnant water and stinking open drains are a common sight.

The slum areas breed criminals. The incidents of two gang rapes recently in and around Chandigarh are pointers in this direction.. The unemployed and uneducated youth choose this way to fulfil their dream. The crime chart of the city is going up. Chain-snatching, looting, burglary and eve-teasing have become common in the city.

Some people with vested interests help those hapless people or workers to settle down in unregulated colonies. The police and the administration swing into the action only when things go out of hand. In fact, the administration should take the initiative from the day these people start settling down in the areas. Such steps can at least help the administration to keep a check on the growth of slum areas.

The administration should check the list persons who they have allotted the houses so that they cannot get the same benefit a second time too. The check would also helps the administration to control the growth of slums.

While keeping in the view that slums are a harsh reality of the urbanisation process, we should not forgot that they are unavoidable part of the modern scenario of the city.

We should improve the slums and develop them into the colonies. Give them water, electricity and street lights to make them liveable.

The administration should educate the slum-dwellers on health and maintenance of hygenic environment.


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