Kajal (24) is in no hurry to cook dinner for her children who are running around as she sits with her husband, talking and complaining about their ‘neighbours’.

Her husband Santosh, in turn, is in no mood to react to what his wife tells him.

“I have bigger things to worry about. I want the government to make houses for us here,” he says, pointing to the pavement and the adjoining piece of land on the Bathinda-Goniana road.

A prime land, located opposite Rose Garden, has currently been encroached upon by Santosh and many others like him who have come from Rajasthan.

“We have been living here for the past several months and no official has asked us to vacate the place. We want that houses be made for us here so that our children and women are safe. Right now, we are sleeping under the open sky,” Santosh says.

Kajal is quick to show their Aadhaar cards, which bear their names and addresses of their village in Chittorgarh.

These families, which have been earning a livelihood by selling brooms, have even set up their makeshift houses on the vacant piece of land, right under the nose of the district administration and the Municipal Corporation Bathinda.

They may be asking for the land to be officially given to them. Residents of the adjoining residential areas want the place to be vacated.

Ramswaroop Singla, a resident of Green Avenue, says, “The MCB has turned a blind eye towards these slums. After a few months, the number of these slums will increase and then it will be difficult for the authorities to move these families from here and vacate the land. This is how hutments increase.”

He argued that this was how bigger hutments came into being.

“At the time of elections, the leaders approach residents of such areas and promise them houses and voting rights. This is how the encroachments increase in the city,” he said.

A resident of Vishal Nagar, Suman Lata, says, “Ever since these migrant families have started staying here, there has been a rise in theft cases in the area. Cycles of a few children have been lifted over the past months. The residents have started keeping their main gates locked for the fear of theft of even smallest of items lying unattended in the porch.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Balwant Rai Nath assured that the MCB would check encroachments of pavements in the city and would take action against to get the public property vacated.

Prime land 

  • A prime land, located opposite Rose Garden, has currently been encroached upon by Santosh and many others like him who have come from Rajasthan. 

Photo: Vijay Kumar


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