MCD Elections: First Give Us Basic Facilities, Say Voters
For example, in Wazirpur sanitation, clean water are the major issues
In Delhi's Wazirpur Industrial area, the residents are upset as campaigning for Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, which are to be held on December 4, has started and the candidates have nothing different to offer.
Wazirpur Assembly constituency is a part of the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency. Wazirpur has three wards: Keshav Puram, Ashok Vihar and Wazirpur that will go to poll in the 2022 MCD election.
Located under North East District of Delhi, Wazirpur Industrial Area is one of the oldest industrial areas and is famous for steel industry particularly the utensil industry. There are many steel and utensil factories in the Wazirpur Industrial area. Wazirpur is one of 29 industrial areas spread across Delhi-NCR.
It also houses many slum clusters in the area, which houses low-income migrant workers, usually from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. The jhuggis (slums) are scattered amongst Wazirpur's workshops and factories, which the workers call home.
The Citizen visited Wazirpur's Ashok Vihar ward and spoke to the residents of JJ Clusters, as well as the industrial workers who said that their areas do not have basic necessities such as clean drinking water and sanitation.
Speaking to The Citizen, Satish, a resident of Wazirpur Industrial area said, "One of the major issues of Wazirpur is water and sanitation. In the last five years nothing has changed, instead the situation has only gone worse."
Bustling with the sounds of machinery, the area had workers with blackened faces, due to working near machines and chemicals, moving around. In many areas, a small industry and jhuggis coexist. This has only left the residents disturbed, mostly because of the sanitation situation.
"Leave the narrow alleys, you will not find sanitation on the roads here. There is a huge pothole nearby and so many people have fallen down there, but no attention has been given to it, despite repeated complaints. We are just used for votes," Satish added.
Without naming anyone, he also said that few political parties also bribe the voters and give them "Rs. 500 and a bottle of alcohol".
"How will development actually come if votes are being bought like that? BJP has been running MCD for the past 15 years, but things have only gone worse" he added.
Meanwhile, on November 27, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief J. P. Nadda and BJP MP Dr Harsh Vardhan also campaigned in the area.
This did not impress the residents. "So many of them have visited us, I have lost count. But as soon as elections start, they start coming here," Ravi, 36, who runs a small electronic shop in the area told The Citizen.
The sitting MLA in the area is Rajesh Gupta from Aam Aadmi Party, who has won from the seat two times consecutively since 2015. However, the residents have said he has neither visited them, nor has he visited in the garb of elections.
"If someone tried to raise the issue, it went unheard. He has never once visited us. We thought if during campaigning only he could come, we would say something," Ravi added.
He also added that clean water is a major issue in the locality and nothing has been done to improve the situation. "We do not get clean drinking water, which is why everyone has summer saver pumps. A water tanker also visits the area everyday for drinking water, else one can not consume it," he added.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj (Allahabad), Ravi has been living in the area for the past 20 years. "So many governments have come and gone but we have not seen any change. They just think about themselves. No party is saying anything different. All of them are saying the same thing. No matter what party comes they will fill their pockets and go," he added.
All the residents pointed out the lack of sanitation and clean water, emphasising they are still struggling with such basic necessities.
Rahul, who has a shop adjacent to Ravi's said that the whole gutter is filled, due to which the water overflows and floods the roads.
"The gutters are blocked; the garbage is overflowing and is everywhere. It is not cleaned," he added, saying that the washrooms made are in such bad condition that one would puke looking at them.
"Firstly, they close it after 9 p.m. and then nobody cleans it. We have to use these horrible washrooms," he added.
Ravi, meanwhile added that he has lost all hopes for change. "And aren't these people campaigning seeing for themselves what the situation is like here? But they don't even talk about it," he said.
JJ clusters have community toilets for the residents.
The industrial workers, meanwhile, told The Citizen, how they are paid nothing and the amount of work they do is more. Kunti Devi, 55, is an enthusiastic woman who lives in the jhuggis of Wazirpur Industrial Area. Belonging to Jharkhand, Devi came to Delhi and started working in a steel industry 30 years back.
From then till now, she only gets Rs. 7,000 as the wage. "I just want to ask whether we will ever receive more money for our labour?" she asked genuinely thinking that the reporter is from the government.
She then said why are their salaries not increasing when these same companies are earning so much from their labour.
The workers go through eight-to-12-hour shifts in which they work with heavy machinery (such as power presses and roller machines), six days a week. In small-scale steel factories, workers press, cut and polish steel.
Many reports have previously suggested that due to the hazardous work conditions many workers have developed chronic respiratory issues.
For their labour, workers receive around Rs 5,000 – 8,000 per month for eight-hour shifts. "I work from 9 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. However, to earn extra, I try to work for 12 hours. By the time my work finishes and I reach home, it is 12 in the morning," she said. On working overtime, the workers can earn an extra Rs 2,000 to their salaries. "This is nothing," Devi added.
Monthly rent for one small room for a family of four can go up to Rs 3,000, including electricity bills. Thus, these workers have to spend a third of their salaries on rent, leaving hardly any money for additional expenses, let alone hospital bills.
"If we demand an increase in salary, we are told to shut up or leave. There is no one to listen to us. I am old now and after working so much I am only getting this much," Devi, who had come to the market to buy some vegetables, said.
Sita Devi, meanwhile, who is also the resident of Wazirpur Industrial Area. Devi, 60, who runs a small shop opposite a small steel factory will be fighting the MCD elections on behalf of Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPIM-L).
Although she is fighting for elections, she herself is struggling with house expenses and a sick family. Devi's husband, who used to work in a factory is not able to work and is partially paralysed. Her eldest son, she said, is sick and hence bed-ridden, while the youngest has breathing problems.
"My house is managed by God, rest we do a little bit to earn," she said.
When asked why she is standing despite so many issues, Devi said, "I am standing despite all this because I feel like I need to stand for my people."
Devi joined CPIM-L 12 years ago and worked on the ground for surveys, due to which many people in the locality know her. "I am a poor woman who does not understand the politics of it all. I am just here for my people because even I have struggled here. I am standing here for the first time and I am very tense because of this, but my comrades are supporting," she told The Citizen.
She further said that unlike other parties, they do not have a big budget, due to which they went door-to-door and asked for funds. "This is how we are running these elections," she said.
On the other hand, Rita Devi, who was campaigning on behalf of BJP looked enthusiastic. "We are going to win," she said, adding that AAP had nothing in the area and their candidate will change that.
The BJP has fielded Poonam Bharadwaj, while Congress has fielded Manisha Janesh Bhadana and AAP's Rita Khari will be fighting the elections.
Ashok Vihar is ward number 65 in the Delhi Civic Polls 2022 and has a total population of 55,773. Interestingly, the seat in this ward is reserved for women.
The BJP has governed the civic bodies in the National Capital since 2007. Meanwhile, AAP, which has been in power in the state since 2013, is trying hard to win the MCD elections.
In the previous polls held in 2017, the BJP bagged 181 of the 270 wards, while the AAP won 48 and Congress 27. Polling was not held for two seats due to the death of candidates.
The total number of civic wards in Delhi was reduced from 272 to 250 after a notification issued by the union home ministry. According to reports, the voter population is nearly 1.5 crore. The counting of votes and announcement of results will be on December 7.