By Syed Ali Mujtaba
The woe of the victim families of the Gujarat riots of 2002 continues unabated. Even 18 years after that horrendous communal program the victims are living in utter neglect.
Close to two lakh people were displaced in the 2002 Gujarat riots. These people remained displaced for more than a year then some Muslim relief organizations, along with a few local NGOs, settled 16,087 people in 83 relief colonies spread across Gujarat.
What happened to the rest of the people neither the government nor do the NGOs have any clue, none has ever kept any account of such internally displaced people.
Among the 16,087 displaced people, some 200 victim families were rehabilitated at Dhoraji Nagar and Citizen Nagar in Ahmedabad. This was done with the help of local Muslim philanthropists.
Citizen Nagar a slum of 40 houses, popularly known as Bombay hotel area, was donated by the Kerala Muslim League Relief Committee then headed by late E. Ahmed, MP from Malappuram.
Close to both Dhoraji Nagar and Citizen Nagar localities is Ahmedabad’s Pirana garbage dump yard which is one-kilometer long and fifty feet high heap of trash. As the garbage dumping from all over the city continues, its foul smell pervades the entire atmosphere over these two colonies. The bad smell causes breathing problems for the people living there.
A PIL seeking closure of the Pirana garbage dump is pending in the Gujarat high court and no one seems to be bothered about its impact on the public health.
There is no traversable road to these rehabilitation colonies. During the rainy season, the filth from the garbage dump comes inside the houses of these human habitats and continues till the monsoon ends.
There is no regular outflow of the sewage from these localities. Water borne diseases are common in the twin colonies. The groundwater is not potable and people have to travel some distance to get drinkable water.
There are no primary health centers located in these localities. There is no school for the children there. Mostly children go to the garbage dump yard to pick up rags or something useful that they can sell.
Most men are doing low level jobs in the chemical factories nearby. The average income of the family here is about INR two thousand per month. Most of them are daily-wage earners and their earnings are insufficient for a family unit of five or six.
Like all the relief colonies spread across Gujarat, these two rehabilitation colonies were also set up as a temporary camp but now have burgeoned into a permanent slum.
However, the ownership documents of these dwellings have not yet been given to the rehabilitated families. This is a major issue and because most of these people face the problem of getting a PAN card, Aadhaar, passport or even a loan.
The Gujarat government had promised the development of these Muslim ghettos where the riot victims are living but even after eighteen years their apathy is palpable.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com