Mandawali starvation not an isolated incident, many more can happen

The building where the three daughters of Mangal Singh were found dead is home to 14 migrant families from Bihar, UP and West Bengal. Lack of food, hygiene and basic civic amenities are normal here

NH Photo
NH Photo
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Zaheeb Ajmal

Mandawali, which saw death of three girl children on Tuesday, is just a stone’s throw away from the swanky Delhi Meerut expressway which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just a month ago.

In the same building where the three children died of starvation and hunger, lives a woman in her mid 40s, Maya. The wife of a daily labourer and mother of two children, Maya too lives in extreme poverty and finds it impossibly difficult to find a job to sustain her family. “Humko aap kahoge ki mere ghar ka bartan dho do, toh hum woh bhi kar denge, aap log ka jhuta dho kar hi toh chalta hai humara (If you ask me to wash utensils of your house, I will do that do. Our homes are run this way),” said Maya, who lives in a room which has no window or a toilet.

The building where the three daughters of Mangal Singh were found dead and where Maya also lives is home to 14 migrant families from Bihar, UP and West Bengal. Lack of food, hygiene and basic civic amenities are problems almost every household in this building faces. Ironically, this building in Gali number 13, Saket Block of Mandawali, leads you to the newly built Delhi-Meerut expressway.

Mangal’s new house is a part of a residential colony, that has come up next to an open space that is used for dumping garbage by locals. The neighbourhood, where autorickshaws or even an e-rickshaw otherwise refuses to ferry you, on Thursday, was swarmed by MLAs, MPs, senior police officers and VIPs. The assembly constituency belongs to Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia and is the parliamentary constituency of Maheish Girri.

Mandawali starvation not an isolated incident, many more can happen
The house where Mangal lived before Saturday

Rajni, a mother of four says, “This is the first time we have seen an MP or MLA in our locality, water from drainage is always on the road. We have two common toilets for the family of fourteen. Each family has 4 to 5 members. Defecating in the open is a normal routine.”

Manorama, another woman in her mid-40s, said, “I don’t remember when was the last time I saw people from the MCD in this locality. We are used to waterlogging in our area due to the ill functioning drainage system. These politicians are here for their benefits. A lot of families suffer from starvation on daily, but no one from the media or the political circles come to meet us.

The occupants of the building where Mangal Singh lived before Saturday has the same story to tell. The hand pump through which they used to take bath is also used as a place to dump garbage.

The room in which Mangal and his family lived in before July 21 is of the size of a car. The room served as bedroom, it has no window. The building belongs to Kushal Mehra and 10 migrant labours reside in this building. The lane is too congested and has pungent smell with animal and human excreta on the road. The water in the drainage is stagnant and filled with garbage. The lane is so narrow that it never sees the light of the day and building are in decade old and are in shambles.

Santosh, another resident of the building, who works in a hotel, came to live here three months ago. “I have been here for three months and the condition has remained unchanged. There is no supply of water here, we use the same water from the tubewell to bath, drink and cook food.”

There are many more Mandawalis in Delhi. Some are Jafarabad, Badarpur, Sangam Vihar, Burari, Trilokpuri. Migrants from across the nation come to metro cities in search for better lives and opportunities but are forced to live in such inhumane conditions which are not suitable for animals too.

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