I know Okhla for the last 40 years. It is here where I spent my childhood, writes Habib.
I grew up seeing the locality grow in a haphazard way. I was a small boy and was unable to stop it grow like this.
High-rise buildings have come up every where. Open fields are gone and the greenery is shrinking. I feel suffocated. But still I cannot desert the locality. I live here.
Who is responsible for ripping apart the scenic locality? Okhla residents, particularly those who reside in Jamia Nagar, are ignorant, senseless, and backward (including me). We have lost the opportunity to grow the area properly.
Others should not be blamed for the deteriorating conditions of Jamia Nagar, except the old residents, who never cared for the locality. And now when the area is chock-a-block with buildings, vehicles and people, we have started talking about bringing in changes. But is it not too late?
The disorganized development and traffic snarl cannot be reversed back. Illegal buildings cannot be dismantled. Roadside encroachment cannot be removed. The builder-politician-police nexus cannot be bust up, who eye every inch of vacant land to be turned into flats, making profit. Besides, powerful and wealthy builders cannot be stopped from acquiring new lands and turning them into poorly-constructed flats deprived of basic facilities and at times with no parking space.
Change for good
Things appear to be extremely difficult to change for good. Some people are clueless how to make the area a better place to live in, bringing an end to claustrophobic local schools, new grounds where children could play and elderly can walk, clean roads and no piled-up garbage on roadsides. Basic civic facilities also need improvement.
Many strongly feel that had the area been developed with plans, it would have turned out to be the most beautiful locality in Delhi with the River Yamuna located just nearby.
But there is no need to keep on complaining.
The time has come for the residents to sit and mull over the issue. The foremost thing that can be done is to create awareness among people that they need to care about their locality. Its upkeep is also their duty. Residents should chastise people who dump garbage on roadsides or in the open place in the locality.
Encroachment should be discouraged and if possible penalized. Let’s work with the authorities to implement schemes that could help improve the locality.
(The author has lived in the locality for the last 40 years. With inputs from OT Bureau)