Written by Capt Manju Minhas (retd):
I have seen many borders and lived close to many others while serving in the Indian Army. The dangers of being in shelling range of the enemy are numerous, and if action starts on the front, one may have to pack their bags and leave – that is if one gets the chance!
But today I am not sharing my thoughts about international borders. Here I am talking about a village called Mohammadpur in Jharsa, which is on the border of the urbanest NCR locality of Gurugram, about 12 kilometres from Huda City Centre metro station. It has an interesting population composition of approximately 5000 locals and more than 25000 migrants. Most of these migrants work as construction or industrial labourers in Gurugram.
Locals have built buildings with single room housing and common toilets to be given out on rent to these migrants. Each building, termed as a ‘colony’, houses up to 30 to 40 migrant families. This village, which earlier composed of agricultural lands, now has factories along with migrant colonies all around it. This setup of high migrant populations, recent industrialization, and its fringe location has led to a waste management crisis in this village.
The village does not have a sewage system. There are unlined septic tanks and open drains to take care of sullage and sewage. The pumped out sewage from these septic tanks is dumped just 500 meters from the residential area in an open low land without a second thought. Dengue outbreak in this village is quite common every season for these obvious reasons. Proper disposal of sewage is essential to lower health costs and improve well being.
As far as solid waste is concerned, waste is being dumped in empty plots in the village itself, or again in open areas a few meters away from residential quarters. Walking in this village, you can see plots which act as mini landfills on every street. It is also reported by residents that neighbouring industries dump their waste, like expired juice boxes etc, in the open areas in this village.
Village children, unaware, tend to consume these expired products. Locals feed their wet waste to cattle; however, migrants pack the leftover food in plastic bags and throw them in these dumping plots. Stray cattle are found eating this food waste along with the plastic bags. In fact, the village seems to be using huge quantities of polybags and plastics. This is choking the soil, drains, and getting caught in bushes and vegetation all around the village.
The panchayat of the village has also been abolished. The sad truth is that this village, in desperate need of aid, does not feature high on the priority list. Being on the border of a posh urban locality, overloaded with a migrant population, this village, like many more, seems to be a live time bomb just waiting to explode!