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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slum – the other side!

Or Lake – the other side!
Ok, in these days of slumdog frenzy u wouldn’t even care and let go that title!
Call it conflict of interest. Or just what ever..
I had to visit a slum or a part of it – as most of it was demolished.
But then it was on a lake in the south western suburbs of Madras (near tambaram). Normally am associated with renewing or restoring a waterbody. But here, a friend of mine asked me to volunteer with a group of people to go and survey for the details of the slum dwellers out there. As a part of a court directive many encroachments around lotsa lakes in Madras are being evicted. This means demolishing of structures too.
What would have otherwise been a passable news pulled me a bit more closer.
Knowing fully well it could be in contrast to my views & passion, I went sniffing.
Its after all some leg work they are asking for, so what – I thought. But it was a school for the slum kids run by one old lady that was also demolished.
I am not going to talk of the emotions behind running down a school, her fight or the pains and ruins of the poor slum dwellers on that lake.
Man! What a sight. What a place to live. Forget that all this is on a lake like most urban suburbs that unknowingly eat up water bodies. But what a pathetic sight.
Its not that I have never visited a slum or unhygienic rural spaces.
But this is one time I walked up & down across and also on the rubbles and we really knew what ‘shit’ was below.
All of us – our government, NGOs, me, you, just about everybody– have failed them and so badly. Not only did none educate them of the necessities of a water body or why such encroachments are so bad for next gens but we all didn’t care to tell them how & why it was important for them to live in better conditions. On one side the water body and water table was being polluted by these people and on the other side (again on the edge of the same lake) Municipality was dumping all our urban wastes.
This sandwiched slum was unlivable. Why is it that none seems to take any care for improving their conditions?
And now they are offered compensation! A piece of land as a relocation package. Lets even ignore the fact that this one cent (one 100th of an acre) is too less. Who will check if that is a good enough place. Who will ratify if that is not a marsh land or some other land that some other court order can shoo them away? Who will educate them and help them plan a neater and healthier surrounds? Esp now that they will start all over from 1st ball!
BTW a family (or was it more?) that was living right in the midst of garbage dump has been spared!
If there is an after life justice, we all shall be condemned to live in some shit hole for sure. That then should be a fair deal.

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