This week I went to visit my in-laws. Their house is located in a small colony in East Delhi, and they have been staying there for the last 45 years or so.
This locality was originally an unauthorized colony, which basically means there was vacant land lying around and someone came along and put up his house and when no one objected, other people came up and built their houses alongside and before the government could sit up and take notice, a whole colony had sprung up.
At this point, the government has two choices – it can either raze down the houses or it can go ahead and regularize the colony. Which of these two choices they actually act upon depends on the vote bank associated with the colony. If a huge number of potential voters are living there, most governments find it easier and beneficial to regularize the colony. I guess other factors also play a role in the decision, but I’m sure this is the main one.
My in-laws had bought a piece of land in this colony when it had just become regularized, so they still got it fairly cheap. Once a colony gets regularized, the expectation is that the government provides the necessary infrastructure in the area, such as roads, parks, water supply, and a drainage system. Unfortunately, since the colony is fairly well established by the time regularization happens, there may or may not be enough space left over to make wide roads and sufficient parks and so on.
Most of the original single-storied houses in the colony have now been replaced with three- or four-storied houses. However, this colony still caries some of the identifying factors of an unauthorized-turned-regularized locality — narrow lanes, no planned parking spaces, a jumble of electric wires dangling dangerously close to houses, and few open spaces (one of the key reasons why we moved out of the area; I had to take my young son to play in a park in a neighboring colony)
On the plus side, most of the people here have been staying here for decades and know each other and their extended families quite well. Neighbors rush in to help whenever there is a need, small or big. Overall, there is a warmth here that you don’t find in the high rises in planned localities with much better facilities.
And that is why my in-laws refuse to move out of the area.
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