Six months ago, residents of Sanjaynagar, a small slum in the potalia ward of the
city, bid their goodnights with a mortal fear of bulldozers razing their illegal dwellings
to the ground.
Today they go to bed in peace,
assured that nothing would disturb them, at least for the next 10 years
Thanks to the
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation which identified 15 poorly equipped slums, and gave them
the privileged status of the Deen Dayal Upadhayay Antyodayslum networking
project (SNP), promising to raise the standard of living of the slum-dwellers. The
concept took the shape of a Rs.326 crore civic project in the proposal prepared by
Himanshu Parikh, consulting engineers for the AMC, based on similar slum networking and
upgradation projects at Indore and Baroda.
Only that, in
Ahmedabad, the project would be taken up by the AMC in conjunction with the community and
voluntary agency, while the external aid component proposed originally, would
be replaced by the citys industries.
proposal calls it a community oriented approach which sees slums not as resource draining
liabilities but as opportunities of urban transformation and seeks to upgrade the
entire city using slums, not as isolated islands but as an urban net; hence
the term slum networking.
project was launched and adequately flaunted after re-naming it the Deen Dayal
Upadhayay Antyodaya Yojana by the ruling BJP in the 1996-97 civic budget, it
boomeranged on the elected wing, threatening to cut down their vote banks.
reasonthe SNP would not be treating the slum-dwellers as beneficiaries
as did the vote capturing services provided under the corporaters and
members of legislative assembly budgets, but as clients paying one-third part
of the total expenses of the physical services delivered to them.
upgradation package offers the slums infrastructure for internal pucca roads,
house-to-house water and drainage connections, street lights, individual toilets solid
waster disposal system, besides general landscaping and community development.
for the services will not only make the slum-dwellers accountable, but also teach them
maintain the improved standards of living, says deputy municipal commissioner P U
Asnani who is in charge of the project.
To provide an
incentive, the AMC decided to bend the rules and was even charged with
regularising the slums in the name of this project.
Commissioner Keshav Varma vehemently refutes these allegations. This does not
regularise the slums, he argues adding,
because we do not give them
(the slum dwellers) tenural rights. Against his stance is the project partners
request to the AMC to make the households concerned, payers of municipal taxes and
service charges, besides the waiving of the connection charges for water supply and
sewerage, which have almost been agreed upon, say AMC sources.
One of the
major incentives stated in the attractive AMC handouts on the project was, those
slums and chawls joining the project will not be removed by the AMC for 10 years,
which scoffed at the AMCs anti-encroachment drives against such illegal structures.
Benefiting from this clause were the 19 odd huts which obstructed the mapping of the main
town planning scheme road at Sanjaynagar but were quietly removed and shifted to the
inside of the Sanjaynagar plot where earlier stood a toilet block!
more though slums had already been covered under the low cost sanitation scheme providing
90 per cent subsidy for toilets, those joining the project would get a toilet at 100 per
Sanjaynagar na chhapra was sold. Mr Varma however, denies that these benefits were paraded
as the AMCs unique selling proposition, we could not have continued giving
them (slums) fragmented services, even after which, they continued to remain slums,
Eviction, they got a better life
Times of India, Ahmedabad, 9 March 1997
mid-February this year, half the huts in Sanjaynagar no Chhapro in the Potalia ward had
been demolished. Not by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, but voluntarily by the
residents to make way for pucca homes.
revolution came with the slum-networking project under which most of Sanjaynagar had been
connected by drains, individual water supply and concrete roads punctuated by street
lights that matched the urban civic amenities.
For the AMC,
it was an ambitious project in execution, while Arvind Mills which took it up under their
Quality of Life Programme, guarded its secrecy like a consumer project
being prepared for market launch.
But for the
181 families of Sanjaynagar, it spelt an upgraded living. However, there were teething
problemsof the four slums covering 3,300 households to be taken up under the pilot
phase, only two could take off.
Sankalchand Mukhi ni chali in Behrampura,
BJP corporator Dharmendra Shah opposed, and the project had to be shelved,
says Rajendra Joshi from Saath, the NGO involved in Sanjaynagar. Kachwadi ni chali and Santokbai ni chali in Chamanpura were dropped due to
resistance from the chawl residents.
Thus, only Sanjaynagar spread over 2.7 hectares, actually began in
August 1996 while the 1,500 households of Pravinnagar-Guptanagar slum at Vasna (west zone)
is on the Arvind Mills cards.
some of the major policy decisions on the SNP had been cleared by the municipal standing
committee, the ruling BJP complained of not being taken into confidence during
the implementation. Says, Municipal Commissioner Keshav Varma, that the elected wing
has not been consulted, is incorrect, since they have been invited to all meetings.
But when the
corporators were advised to channel their budgets to the project corpus, they refused.
Municipal Commissioner P U Asnani agrees that Till now no corporator has come
forward to support the project
politicians, how can we tolerate the credit for the works done from our budgets go to
other organisations, argues a BJP corporator. The project began in 1995 with a
socio-economic survey conducted by Saath. An AMC estimate placed the cost of physical
works per house at Rs.6000 to be shared equally by each partner, plus an extra Rs 100 from
each resident for the maintenance corpus, while AMC was to bear the escalation costs till
the completion of the project.
the AMC offered separate concessions for Rs 500 to those houses which already had water
and drainage connections, and Rs 300 to those with toiletsa decision which was
not-too-well-received by Arvind Mills, especially since the flat of Rs 2,100 ensured
had a very proactive role in the making of the policy, comments Uttara Chauhan of
Arvind Mills, on this decision.
development and linkages with urban infrastructure, which comprise the second phase are
estimated at Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 per house respectively.
operation of the funds, Arvind Mills formed SHARDA (Strategic Help Alliance for
Relief to the Distressed Areas) Trust.
Prof V L Mote who handles the project
says, The project was an extension of the enlightened self-interest of the
company, and justifying their intervention he adds, We do not talk about our
project till it is delivered. Says Niraj Lal of Arvind Mills, When we first
went to the slums, they were suspicious and thought we would run away with their
money, while another obstacle was the fear of eviction. A local level committee
comprising 11 members was formed to encourage leadership and persuade the community to
commit themselves to the project. An incentive came with the Self-Employed Womens
Association (SEWA) banks special loan scheme, offering Rs.1,500 to needy families.
We did not want to risk our money initially, says Fuljibhai who chairs the
committee, till they promised us security for 10 years. Today, 99
families have paid their share in cash, while the rest applied for the SEWA loan,
says the committees Champaben also a SEWA worker.
Then each family spent over Rs.10,000
to replace their mud huts with concrete houses for the electrical wiring, says Fuljibhai.
The rights to invite tenders for civil
works was given to the Arvind Mills in order to bring in professional management and
ensure deliver, says Mr Asnani, while AMC engineers supervised the operations. Saath,
under the community development module, put up a dispensary and a balwadi here.
There was an alarming incidence of tuberculosis here10 to 12 patients come in
every week notes Mr Joshi. We then identified three community women as health
workers and two as trainers for the education programme, says Mr Joshi. The balwadi
charges a nominal fee of Rs.25 and provides an exposure to pre-school children by way of
outings and a regular curriculum.
Reacting to the adverse reactions, says
Mr Varma, Well tackle the bend as it comes.
Sea change in
store for Sanjaynagar
Times of India, Ahmedabad, 10 March 1997
goes well, by April 1997, Sanjaynagar no chhapro would stop reeking of open sewers,
potable water would have reached the doorsteps of the residents, concrete and well-lit
roads would have connected the houses, individual toilets would have curtailed open
defecation and there would be much more
Thanks to the
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Arvind Mills and the voluntary agencySaath, who
came together under the Deen Dayal Upadhayay Antyoday slum-networking project.
the project started at Ahmedabad, the Habitat-II conference hosted at Istanbul in June
1996, recognised slum networking as one of the best global practices and the
demonstration of the slum networking concept at Indore won the United Nations World
consulting engineer Himanshu Parikh, who has been involved in the concept for 15 years,
slums have always been seen as problems, when actually, their spatial distribution
gives them the potential to change urban infrastructure.
the times, the funding agency tends to dominate over the project, says Mr Parikh
the external aid factor was replaced by contributions form the citys industries.
the launching of the project here, two functionaries form the United Nations Development
Prrogramme, have been closely monitoring project while the Housing and Urban Development
Corporation has offered financial assistance. Explaining the rationale behind this
project, Mr Varma says, there is already a government directive to provide basic
civic services to the slums, only thing is that we are doing it in a professional
has 15 city slums in its agenda and is likely to spread says, Mr Parikh, generally,
slums are located near the natural water ways of the city with their sewers and drainage
systems operating on the natural forces of gravity. The concept of
networking, says Mr Parikh, seeks to upgrade the water supply and the drainage
systems of the slums and make way for inter connecting them to the urban infrastructure.
Besides, the project includes a wide range of community development initiatives.
Presently Sanjaynagar, comprising mainly of vegetable and fruit
sellers, lives on an average daily income of Rs 40 to Rs 60. The rest are mill workers who
were rendered jobless since the closure of the mills. We have planned to form a
womens group at the community level for operating the savings and credit
schemes, says Rajendra Joshi of Saath.
projection of the new Sanjaynagar, however, has scared its residents, Gher haathi, bandhi didhu chee have sachchavvu padse!
( An elephant has been tied to our homes, now we have to maintain it) says, Fuljibhai of