The spark of being the largest planned residential area in Asia has dimmed in Janakpuri in the face of the poor upkeep of civic infrastructure after its development in the 1970s. The deteriorating conditions are perhaps exemplified by the district centre -the heart of Janakpuri’s commercial activities. Amid the highrises and swanky restaurants are heaps of garbage and poor roads. Vikas Kapoor, a regular shopper here, felt the authorities have been unable to keep pace with the growth in population in the past decade. “If the situation is so dismal at the district centre, you can only imagine what it must be like in outlying areas,“ he added.The four municipal wards of Janakpuri West, Janakpuri South, Sitapuri and Milap Nagar consist of sprawling DDA complexes, upmarket colonies and urban villages, home to a significant Punjabi population tracing its roots to pre-partition Pakistan. Residents of the urban villages of Asalatpur and Possangipur rue having surrendered their agricultural land for the development of Janakpuri because they have not reaped civic benefits. “Things have remained pretty much like what they were in the 1970s. Our streets are not even swept regularly ,“ complained Mohammad Aziz, 69, in Possangipur. In Asalatpur, the street dog menace has taken on alarming dimensions. “In the evenings, you can’t drive on the street because packs of dogs chase you. The civic officials sometimes dump dogs from other areas here,“ alleged shopkeeper Anil Jindal.As it is, even without having to contend with canines, arterial stretches in the wards, like Pankha Road, are heavily congested. The corporation has done little to keep shopkeepers, vendors and hawkers from illegally occupying public spaces.
Parking and drainage are a bane even in Janakpuri South, perhaps the ward with the best maintained roads and gardens. Much of the upmarket area and its infrastructure were developed when Delhi hosted the 1982 Asian Games. Now, water stagnation is a massive problem, though sitting councillor Rajni Mamtani said, “My biggest achievement during my five years is the installation of water harvesting systems in six blocks.“ Mamtani advised the incoming councillor to focus on tackling the problem of parking and push for the construction of a parking facility.
In Indra Park, Sitapuri and Mahavir Enclave with their unauthorised, but regularised colonies, the struggle for basic civic amenities goes on -from broken roads to uncleared garbage. “The local MCD school has piles of trash in front of it,“ said Pawan Ranawat, a Mahavir Enclave resident. “If they don’t care even for children, how will they ensure cleanliness of other areas?“ People living in the vicinity of potter colonies here grumble about the polluting smoke from kilns. “The corporation hasn’t managed to check this,“ said Rohit Kumar. Potters have their own complaints. Babu Lal, a 65-year-old Indra Park potter, said, “For everything from minor constructions to installing a hand-pump, we have to bribe the corporation officials.“ He smiled sardonically while recollecting that the corporator had broken coconuts thrice to inaugurate development projects -but no work has started even now.