New Delhi: Okhla Neighbourhoods Struggle with Infrastructural Woes

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Lack of basic amenities plagues residential and commercial areas; residents call for urgent attention

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – In the heart of the national capital lies Okhla, an assembly constituency brimming with economic activity and cultural diversity. Home to Muslim-majority neighbourhoods and an array of residential and commercial establishments, Okhla has witnessed rapid urbanisation over the years. However, beneath the surface of its bustling streets lies a community grappling with a host of infrastructural challenges.

The reasons behind Okhla’s burgeoning development are multifaceted. Its proximity to key areas such as Noida, Ghaziabad, South Delhi, and the renowned Jamia Millia Islamia, coupled with relatively affordable property prices, has attracted both residents and businesses alike. Despite these advantages, the constituency continues to grapple with persistent issues that hinder the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Garbage-strewn roads, stagnant ponds, and inadequate water supply plague the landscape, painting a picture of neglect and disregard for basic amenities. Residents lament the lack of significant improvements beyond metro connectivity, highlighting issues such as smelly streets, congested roads, traffic woes, and sewage problems.

Over the past seven major elections, political dynamics have fluctuated, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress claiming victory at different times. While the AAP-led Delhi government has taken steps to address some concerns, such as the installation of CCTV cameras and reduced electricity bills, the pressing issue of water scarcity remains a significant challenge.

Ayesha Siddiqui, a resident, expresses frustration over erratic water supply despite the installation of water pipes, particularly affecting areas like Haji Colony, Jasola Village, and Shaheen Bagh during the scorching summer months. Business owners like Nafees Ahmed bemoan the deteriorating conditions, citing unorganised urban migration and the proliferation of unauthorised colonies as contributing factors.

Mohammad Sufyan, who runs a small hotel, laments the exorbitant costs associated with water management, making it increasingly challenging to sustain his livelihood.

Dr. Alqama Faizan raises concerns about the detrimental health effects stemming from poor water quality, citing a rise in kidney-related illnesses and gastrointestinal issues among residents.

The roots of Okhla’s urbanisation can be traced back to 1935 when the establishment of Jamia Millia Islamia marked the area’s gradual transition from a village to an urban hub. Today, neighbourhoods like Abul Fazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar, and Shaheen Bagh stand as testaments to its diverse cultural tapestry.

Despite its economic vibrancy, Okhla grapples with stark disparities within its boundaries. While areas like New Friends Colony boast posh amenities and upscale living, pockets of neglect, such as Zakir Nagar, paint a contrasting picture of neglect and disparity.

The constituency’s economic landscape is marked by diversity, with multinational corporations, call centres, and media groups coexisting alongside industrial estates like Okhla Industrial Estate Phase III. However, the lack of adequate infrastructure casts a shadow over its potential for further growth and development.

As Okhla continues to navigate the complexities of urbanisation, residents and stakeholders alike emphasise the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the longstanding infrastructural challenges. With its rich tapestry of cultures and economic opportunities, Okhla stands poised to realise its full potential, provided that decisive action is taken to address the pressing needs of its inhabitants.

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