Lok Raj Sangathan recently launched a campaign for the right to water supply, sanitation, clean and hygienic living conditions, basic health care services, school education facilities, better public transport, etc. for the millions of working people living in slums and resettlement colonies spread out all across Delhi.
Lok Raj Samitis (committees of residents organised by Lok Raj Sangathan to defend their basic rights) in 7 workers' residential colonies in Delhi – Madanpur Khadar, Sanjay Colony in Okhla, Jasola, Indira Kalyan Vihar, Transit Camp Kalkaji, Sardar Colony Rohini and Shashi Garden near Patpargunj -- held meetings of residents, in which the problems being faced by them, in terms of lack of basic civic amenities, were discussed. The common problem across all the colonies was the lack of clean drinking water and regular water supply, forcing them to spend long hours at the water tanker, in order to get just a few buckets of water for the family's daily needs. The lack of toilets, forcing residents to defecate in the open, was another common problem. Other issues discussed were the presence of open drains causing grave health hazards, lack of government dispensaries and primary health centres, no proper schools with adequate teachers, infrastructure and other facilities, no recreation centres for the youth, inadequate and infrequent public bus transport, etc.
On the basis of the issues raised by residents in the above meetings, a memorandum was prepared and submitted by the Lok Raj Sangathan to the Delhi government on June 5. The various agencies of the government – the MCD, the Delhi Jal Board, the Delhi Transport Corporation, the department of health and family welfare, the department of education, etc. will now have to be pursued by the Lok Raj Samitis to take action on their demands.
In order to work out a plan of action, to take this campaign forward, a meeting of activists and supporters of Lok Raj Sangathan as well as members and activists of the various Lok Raj Samitis was organised on June 21. A large number of youth attended the meeting, together with men and women from all the colonies who have come forward so far, to join the campaign. Participants in the meeting enthusiastically discussed the demands placed before the Delhi government and means for their solution, as well as various ways in which to mobilise people in large numbers and take the struggle forward.
Presiding over the meeting, Comrade Prakash Rao, Convenor of Lok Raj Sangathan, pointed out that the involvement of the people in large numbers was essential, in order to find solutions to our problems that harmonise the interests of all concerned. Otherwise, the authorities can use our demands to divide us in the community. He pointed out that the working poor of the city are forced to live in conditions unfit for humans, but no political party is interested in improving their conditions. Instead these same conditions have been used, over decades, to create vote banks and divide the people and keep them tied to one or another political party. Meanwhile, through the media, every kind of diversion is created, to divert our attention and hide the real source of our problems. For example, the media gave a lot of publicity to the launch of the "Swachh Bharat" campaign of the central government, but failed to talk of how the safai karmacharis of Delhi have not been paid their wages for many months and are deprived of even the most rudimentary tools for cleaning. We need to hold local meetings in each area and mobilise people to come forward and take up the struggle, he said.
The President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Shri S. Raghavan and Delhi Lok Raj Sangathan secretary Birju Nayak also called on the participants to actively organise people in each area, together with other organisations working in the interests of the people, to put pressure on the Delhi government to take steps towards a solution to these problems.
Activists from various areas of Delhi eagerly came up with proposals to mobilise people for the campaign. The proposals included plans for holding meetings of residents at street corners as well as at central places in the localities, putting up posters and banners announcing the campaign and urging people to come forward, distributing leaflets announcing the campaign widely among the residents, inviting the local MLAs and other community leaders to participate in the mass campaign, going in delegations to the authorities to demand that their concerns be addressed, organizing a march to the Delhi Chief Minister's office, etc. Suggestions to popularize the campaign through social media such as facebook, etc. met with enthusiastic response from the youth. It was also proposed that we use our own media, video cameras and audio recording devices as well as reporters, to give wide publicity to the campaign.
A schedule was drawn up, for local meetings at a number of places over the next few weeks. Activists and supporters present at the meeting enthusiastically planned to make the campaign a success.