Friday, April 29, 2005

Bangalore’s Dharavi is a stretch of squalor

Bangalore’s Dharavi is a stretch of squalor
The Times of India

Bangalore: In local NGO terminology, Bagalur is Bangalore’s Dharavi, though not its largest slum.

Be it AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, whooping cough or cardiac problems, Bagalur has all this and more. A typical situation at Bagalur is: dogs, flies, people on last legs of life, little green kids all shove and jostle for food, their 10x10 feet tenement and even recreation, leading to endless brawls. But, for the 24,000 strong populace of this sprawling slum, brawls are the last and indeed the least of their concerns.

A gaunt 56-year-old Mariappa Yesu ambles towards a sickly pomeranian and kicks it away. He’s sick, he says, with “AIDS.’’

The area is teeming with Yesus. The rarely open local health department, the only one in the 3-km stretch of stench, gets cases every day and these people are almost always diagnosed with debilitating illnesses. Quite a corollary because 95% of Bagalur’s population comprises labourers, the young and the aged. Mary, 21, a mother of three toddlers, one at her bosom, is now four months pregnant, toils at the construction site all day.

“Deve Gowda, who’s that, amma?’’ asks 65-year old Vaniamma. The local JD(S) corporator Marimuthu reprimands her, “Don’t you remember the man who had come here on Sunday? You will again be taken for his rally on Saturday.’’ Another bunch of women with varied health complaints say they are geared up to “go to the city on Saturday’’ because last week “many people came here, people were clicking photos of our houses, our children and enquiring about our problems.’’

Lack of water has been a perennial peeve. Corporator Marimuthu says her daughter broke her ankle while balancing pots of water on her hip. She talks of official apathy when she says nobody from the BCC comes to give sale deeds and documents, and nobody comes for tax collection. In all, 1400 sale deeds apparently, have not been done at all.

To bring in a breather, the corporator put up a park in the midst of the slum. But people use these green lawns for defecating.
The squalour, meanwhile, is all-inclusive.


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