vambay (valmiki ambedkar awasa yojana)
For the second day we decided to visit a high density housing complex built by the government -TDP government under the leadership of Chandrababu Naidu. In the aftermath of the flash floods of the Musheerabad area, The government began evacuating constructions along the nala and relocate them along with several other unorganised occupations in surrounding areas. The result was the VAMBAY housing colony - near Bhima Maidan. Inaugurated in 2006 - The VAMBAY colony was designed to accommodate 350 housing units - 227sft each - built at a cost of 2.1 crores. Each dwelling unit was offered at INR 60,000, of which 30,000INR would be the government subsidy, 24,000 would be financed and 6,000 would be what the end user had to pay immediately. The housing complex is divided into 14 blocks of G+3 structures consisting of about 8 dwelling units in each floor.
The housing complex is not restricted by any compound wall. In fact we had walked into the complex from a passage between one of the blocks from the road. The contrast from the slum dwellings in Day 1, to this were immediate. The first thing we see is that the passages were all very unmaintained, leading to a sense of decay. This is more important when we consider the fact that the slum we had visited had been around for over 50 years and this housing complex for only about 11 years. Vehicles could be seen parked across everywhere possible, mostly two wheelers. There was no dedicated space for parking near the dwelling units themselves and anybody who could afford a vehicle simply seemed to park right in front of their block. What struck us the most though was the long corridors of waste formed in the space between the back sides of two blocks. People from the upper floors seemed to simply dump waste into these narrow spaces that appeared to never be cleaned.
The housing complex has a generous central open space which is currently being used to park taxi's by those working in the taxi trade. The open space was possibly given for this reason or as a place to organise events.
The structures themselves looked dilapidated owing to their lack of maintenance - it would be difficult to maintain vertical structures in the event of any plumbing failures. The height adds expense to this process and clearly although people seemed to be bothered by it, very few had attempted to solve this issue.
The first house we had visited to belonged to Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, a woman in her late 50's who runs a local kirana shed. She describes how they had come here about 12 years ago (we noticed the discrepancy in the inauguration date and in her story later) after the floods. The housing complex was to accommodate for people affected In all these areas. She had told us how the government basically only constructed the outer walls and one inner wall leaving everything to be customised by the people living in there. The footprint of the home seemed to be small to be able accommodate for 3 people (two of whom were Mrs.Vijayalakshmi's daughters) and 2 children but it was much better than a lot of the places we had seen. The dwelling was modestly fitted, with the utility happening on the outside. A 20 inch TV, a cot and an almirah rounded off most of the furniture in the house. The kitchen had been equipped with a stove and a small refrigerator.
After going to the first home we decided to take a trip to the terraces of this complex to see what the residents were doing with the accessible common space - and weren't disappointed. They had built these temporary structures on the terrace that were used to accommodate for the ever-growing family members to sleep in by the people living the upper floors.
For the second house we visited a second floor home that was mostly identical to the one on the ground floor. Except for the fact that this one did not have the utility that the ground floor one has and so had to make do with the basic utility split into the kitchen and the bathroom itself. The kitchen hosted a modest sink to wash utensils in and the bathroom was where clothes would be washed. The bathroom also had large water storage plastic barrels / drums to store water. Because of the lack of proper water tanks, the tenants would store water that is sent to them every alternative day for their regular use. The same water seems to be used for drinking and for other purposes.
Some conclusions :
- There seem to be a reasonable number of people living here who have rented their dwelling from the original owners, the one the government had given to at a subsidized rate. Although in most cases this shows that misappropriation of resources is a problem in government sponsored housing schemes, sometimes there seem to be legitimate reasons to rent this out and move on because of the lack of expand ability. One can argue that in this case the government housing scheme has succeeded. It helped the family stabilize and move on.
- There seem to have been a lot of attempts at dealing with their waste disposal issue, allocating dust bins, singling out and talking to repeat offenders etc, but the core of the issue is, the tenants on the upper floors don't find it worth it to pay the GHMC INR 50 per household per month and get their waste removed. They would rather just throw it out of the window.
- This particular housing community places all this population in the center of the city rather than away from it making it a reasonable stepping stone to improving their lives, but also creates an incentive for people to rent it off for about INR 3000 per month, or sell it for a minimum of about INR 300,000 to 500,000.
- This high density housing like many in our country get a lot of attention from politicians during the election campaign, when politicians tend to do visible changes that are not always beneficial to the development of the community but only serve as putting up a showcase to the tenants.