Communal harmony, socio-economic development major issues for North East Delhi voters | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Communal harmony, socio-economic development major issues for North East Delhi voters

ByAlok KN Mishra,
May 24, 2024 09:41 AM IST

North East Delhi came into existence in 2008 with the merger of large portions of the East Delhi constituency and parts of the erstwhile Sadar Bazar seat

One of the most diverse parliamentary constituencies in the Capital, North East Delhi is located along the banks of the Yamuna, and shares its border with Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh to the east and north.

A view of the 10-acre Shahdara Lake. (HT File Photo)
A view of the 10-acre Shahdara Lake. (HT File Photo)

The constituency includes a mix of urban and semi-urban areas with diverse demographics, including a large Poorvanchali community (migrants from Bihar and eastern UP) as well as a sizable Muslim population. Most of the residential colonies are unauthorised, with haphazardly constructed houses built along bustling and often choked streets. These localities often exist within a blend of commercial and industrial activities, mostly in Shahdara, Jhilmil, Karawal Nagar, and Seelampur.

North East Delhi came into existence in 2008 with the merger of large portions of the East Delhi constituency and parts of the erstwhile Sadar Bazar seat. Over the last two decades, this corner of Delhi has undergone many changes, with several infrastructure projects, roads, and flyovers improving connectivity to the area. However, traffic snarls, waterlogging, poor healthcare and education facilities, broken roads, and a lack of drinking water supply remain the major issues that the people of North East Delhi face.

The constituency of over 2.4 million voters now faces unique challenges in terms of communal harmony and socio-economic development.

The current elections will see a direct contest between the BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and Congress candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, who is backed by the AAP. While Tiwari is a popular Bhojpuri singer-turned-politician and is the incumbent MP since 2014, Kumar also enjoys significant popularity, and can fall back upon the strength of the Congress and AAP organisational base in the area.

Spike in population

Over the past decade, the population of Sonia Vihar and its surrounding neighbourhoods has skyrocketed, residents say, with a large number of unauthorised colonies also propping up in the area.

However, the infrastructure has not kept pace with this population growth, said Bhupesh Gupta, a resident of Sonia Vihar.

“The 3km stretch between Nanaksar and Sonia Vihar 2nd pushta is nothing less than a nightmare, as we face massive traffic snarls on a daily basis. The road is just 30 feet wide, instead of the ideal 70 metres. There have been no solutions offered to fix this situation, even though we have given representations to our local MP, MLA, and councillors. Similar traffic congestion is on the Wazirabad Road connecting Ghaziabad,” said Gupta.

Meanwhile in Gamri — the closest neighbourhood to the Yamuna — the residents are mostly affected by waterlogging issues, especially during the monsoons, as it is a low-lying area.

“Ours is an old village and there are hundreds of houses that were built years ago. When it rains, the rainwater flowing down from the main roads reaches our houses and submerges the lanes outside. Our houses are flooded during heavy rains. Politicians come during every election, make tall promises but never return to fulfil them once the polls are over,” said Arjun Singh, a resident of the village.

In areas in the geographical northeast of Delhi, such as Seelampur, Jafrabad and Maujpur — densely populated residential neighbourhoods with pockets of small-scale industries — the lack of education facilities for girls and a lack of government support for businesses are some of the major problems faced by residents.

“There is no government college for women in northeast Delhi. As a result, 7,000 to 8,000 girls from our areas quit studies after class 12. These girls belong to poor families, who, in want of money and other facilities, do not want them to travel to far away colleges. We had been raising our demand for a women’s college in northeast Delhi. Around seven years ago, the announcement for a mini polytechnic college in our area was made but nothing on ground has been done so far. The space earmarked for the college is now an unofficial parking lot,” said Faheem Baig, the general secretary of the Jafrabad RWA.

A lack of healthcare facilities is another issue that many people in these areas said was a key issue that they wanted to get addressed.

“There are only two big government hospitals in northeast Delhi – Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) and Jag Pravesh Chandra. As the GTB hospital is close to Ghaziabad, people from across the border also come there for treatment. The hospital is always overcrowded and is functioning beyond its capacity,” said Ajit Kumar, a resident of Yamuna Vihar.

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