Delhi must host the Games, but why should Dolly have to live in filth?

Dolly does not like her new home – a makeshift tent near the Trilokpuri drain in East Delhi. The stench from the drain – hardly five feet away from where she lives – turns her stomach. Mosquitoes buzz, bite and thrive here.  Mosquito bites dot her body. The five-year-old has not bathed for three days because her mother says that the limited water they get has to be used for other purposes.

Dolly used to live in the Yamuna catchment area with her parents, both farmers. Earlier this month, when the water level in the river crossed the rose above the danger-mark, more than three hundred families were relocated by the Delhi authorities to the tents erected along the U.P. Link road.

Five days back, cops asked them to shift to tents near the open sewer drain.

“They said that we should not go anywhere near the Yamuna till the Commonwealth Games are over,” says 25-year-old Santosh.

A native of Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh, Santosh has no work to do till the Games. He kills time chatting with fellow farmers and playing cards. “Thank God they are providing us with food twice a day.”

However, there is no fixed time when the food – cooked rice and a vegetable – is distributed in the tents. Asha, 8, gets her first meal at 12 noon. “Without giving her food, I cannot expect her to do any household work,” says Parvati, Asha’s mother.

Her son, Anuj, 5, has been down with fever since the past two days. “There is dirty water all over. There are goats, buffaloes and even stray dogs outside out tents. How do you expect our children to stay healthy here?” asks the mother.

Jai Prakash, 18, informs that once they were given rotten food. “When I complained, they said that eat this first, and then a doctor will attend to you.”

Tents are spread over a km stretch. Delhi Jal Board tankers are stationed at both ends of the stretch.

“Lack of potable water is the biggest problem we face here. These tankers are empty by noon time. After that if someone needs water, he has to ask for it from the neighboring tent,” says Jai Prakash, adding that the government could have shifted them to a better site.

He does not know if post-Games the government will allow him and other families to go back to the Yamuna catchment area. “It is government’s will. We really cannot say.”

This appeared on governancenow.com September 29, 2010

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