Despair to Hope - Journey of Namita Das
Age : 32 years
Location : Piligrim Road Das sahi, Ward no-38 (Cuttack Municipal Corporation)
Marital Status : Widow at the age of 19
Married at the age of 14 to Sima Das, a trolley puller in Cuttack
Children : One Son
Unfortunately their house was demolished due to eviction drive of the Cuttack Municipal Authorities and ultimately they were left to the vagaries of nature
Her husband lost mental balance in the process and committed suicide in 2006.
She had to face all the Challenges of life with one child struggling for existence by doing some domestic errands.
Having worked as a daily labourer for some time, she could manage to be a petty labour contractor for doing small works like cleaning drains and lifting garbages etc. Her aspirations led her to a far off place with a group to earn more and get ditched by the payer. The situation forced her to empty her purse for paying the dues to her group of labourers.
It was a coincidence that we took up the slum under our project area. We came in her contact and got to know the Challenges and difficulties. First of all we instilled a sense of hope and confidence and then exposed her to the legal aspects of labour and dignity of work. We enrolled her as a member of local CSO. She is also participating in our meetings and workshops at different times.
Being a petty contractor herself, she could understand the legalities and technicalities of labour laws. As a result of which she has started recovering her loss of confidence and also financial loss thereby being example herself.
After our intervention her increased confidence has led to taking upnew contracts and assignments
She has applied to the Cuttack Municipal Corporation for taking up small projects for cleaning city drains and lifting garbage with her team of labourers
She is now inspired to educate her child properly with a commitment to help him live a much better life
She is now financially stable after recovering from the loss she had incurred
She will have a productive and dignified life based on information and knowledge which could influence others in future
A Way Out of Identity Crisis
Name of the Slum : Tanla Sahi
Name of the Ward : 8, Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC)
Total HH : 264
Total Population : 1193
The demolition drive by CMC rendered around 264 families homeless
in peak winter i.e in the month of January 2014. These people including men,
women, children, aged and disabled have been living in temporary houses made
of polythene exposed to cold, heat wave and rains along Mahanadi Ring Road.
Most of the residents work as daily wagers. Pregnant women, small children and
differently abled persons are suffering the most from the eviction. They said they
can’t afford to take house on rent within their little income.
No drinking water, toilet and garbage clearance facility.
Open defecation is rampant on the embankment of river Mahanadi.
Health issue is a major concern
It was a coincidence that we took up the slum under our project area.
CSO formed with our intervention. The slum dwellers taking part in different programmes and sharing their views
According to CMC official, in 2014, the CMC announced to construct pucca houses with 300 Sqft. at Tanla Sahi for 264 families under Integrated Housing and Slum Development programme at an estimated cost of 17 crore. The CMC has roped in Odisha State Police Housing Welfare Corporation (OSPHW) to construct the houses
Though the site for construction was decided, the work was delayed due to land dispute.
The issue was raised in our meetings in presence of CMC Mayor, Corporators, Chairman, Construction Board. Representations from the slum community were given to concerned officials
The land issue was cleared
Through our advocacy efforts and community representations,Tanla sahi residents will get concrete houses finally and construction work has already started
Our consistent advocacy in support of constructing houses at the site had yielded its dividend that the Govt. agency agreed to build concrete houses at the earliest. A report to this effect was published in the news paper (paper clipping for reference)
Out of 264 families originally living in makeshift houses on the river embankment 30 had already left with apprehension of no development and no house construction.Soon after assurance from authorities in terms of notification, no more families have left the place.
Most of the workers (mainly daily labour) are again back to construction work with hope for future settlement
Around 20 small shopkeepers and vendors are again back to business after the notification
All the families will have permanent, safe and secure houses with all entitlement restored as citizens to lead decent and qualitative life
Collective Effort Pays – A Case study
Name of the Slum : Matha Sahi
Name of the Ward : 8, Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC)
Total HH : 53
Total Population : 360
This slum is one of the oldest slum of Cuttack. Though the people live for many
years they are yet to get any govt. facility and benefits of different schemes and
rights. Most of the men folk are involved in construction work as daily wage
labourer & masons and women are engaged as domestic help. During election
time, the political people come and promise to provide basic facilities to them.
But after the election they vanish from the area.
There is no anganwadi facility nearby. So most of the parents are not able to send their children to anganwadi as they have no time. Both men and women of the family work to feed the family. So a few children go to school and very less boys and girls pursue higher studies. As they have no education or less education, good jobs are remote possibility for them. So they are bound to work as labourers, masons, sweepers which fetch poor income.
People spend a major portion of their income in gambling and alcohol thus making the family to starve. In decision making process the male dominance prevails and the women suffer a lot due to the dominant attitude of the male members .
This slum is deprived of basic facilities like, safe drinking water, toilet, anganwadi centres and other educational institution. Due to illiteracy they are not aware of govt. schemes and benefits.
It was a coincidence that we took up the slum under our project area. CSO formed with our intervention. The slum dwellers were previously not organized and there were no Self Help Groups (SHGs). We take up to organize them as our first priority and through continuous mobilization CSO was formed. Likewise, to unite the women folk, 2 nos. SHGs are formed. During interaction with the women, they shared their interest to make some work which would add to their family income by undergoing training under certain vocation. Their demand was put forward to the Cuttack Municipal Corporation through the concerned community organizer and public petition. Thus their demand was fulfilled and a three months vocational training on tailoring and garment designing was launched on 25th Dec 2015 with 23 participants under BPL category by CMC through NULM.
Now they are stitching their own cloths instead of depending on the tailor which saves their family income. A good thing happens during the process by the induction of SHGs under NULM. Those SHGs will get the benefits of revolving fund and other facilities and can be able to start their new ventures in the coming days. The media persons visited the training centre and their success was highlighted in the esteemed media.
Governance process strengthened at micro level
More space for women created in decision making
Sensitized on health and sanitation
Awareness on rights, entitlement and concerned schemes enhanced
23 women trained in tailoring and garment designing
Quality of socio economic life changing
Issue of Occupational vulnerability addressed
Home for the Homeless
Urban Slum Civil Society Organisation (CSO) successfully advocates for
pucca (concrete) houses for 264 evicted families in Cuttack
Cuttack, Odisha: ‘We are relieved to hear the construction of pucca houses
for us in our slum’- said the women of Tanla Sahi slum, Cuttack Municipal
Corporation. The demolition drive by the CMC rendered around 264 families
homeless in peak winter of January 2014. Most of the residents work as daily
wagers and cannot afford to take house on rent on their paltry earnings.
Since then, the residents including men, women, children, aged and disabled
have been living in temporary polythene structures exposed to cold, heat wave
and rains along Mahanadi Ring Road. There is no provision for drinking water,
toilet and garbage disposal. Open defecation is rampant on the embankment
of river Mahanadi.
The local collective Tanla Sahi Slum Development Committee formed through the Samaveshi Sheher Project support, in May 2015, took the initiative for advocating with the line department on this issue with support from IGSSS’s implementing partner IIEC.
The repeated interface meetings and follow up, resulted in an announcement by the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) on December 2015 about the construction of pucca houses at Tanla Sahi for 264 affected families, under Integrated Housing and Slum Development program at an estimated cost of Rs 17 crore. The CMC has roped in Odisha State Police Housing Welfare Corporation (OSPHW) to construct the houses
This is a major achievement for the urban slums and the Tanla Sahi Slum Development Committee are understandably proud of their success. IIEC have been facilitating the collectivization of families of unorganized sector workers residing in urban slums. The collectives’ capacities are being built to engage with local administration to claim their social, residential and occupational rights.
Story of a Determined Woman
Son is pursuing studies in a college. Daughter has just passed 10th board exam successfully.
While educating her children she has made up her mind to pass board exam with her strong
determination and will power. Not only she tried her best to educate her children but also helped
other children and women of her slums to get educated. She is fondly called as ‘Lochani’ Didi by
the community of her slum in Cuttack.
Lochani is an inhabitant of Pilgrim Road DasaSahi slum in ward no 38 in Cuttack Municipal Corporation.
She became a housewife in a poor family in the year 2003 with an educational qualification of class 8th.
Due to her social attitude, she could not stay indoors. Apart from her family responsibilities, she started
working for her community. Tuberculosis (TB) is a common phenomenon in that slum due to addiction
of liquor and slum dwellers are falling prey to the deadly disease. As Lochani is an ASHA worker, she
started giving DOTs tablet to the victims with proper guidance from SCB Medical college and kept up
mobilizing the community to give up the habit of drinking.
IIEC came in touch with her while implementing the Samaveshi Sheher project in Cuttack in April 2015. With her initiation, a CSO was formed and it is functioning effectively under her leadership. With our mobilization and her willpower assisted by other strong men and women, a youth group was also formed in that slum. She is assisting the slum dwellers to get their social security benefits (widow pension, old age pension, Disability Pension, Labour Card, Ration Card etc.). She is said to be an angel to the widows of her slum.
During community interaction she expressed her will to pass board exams. We advised her to appear the exam through open school in this September and she has already filled up the form. After doing her all household chores and community work, she finds time of 2 hours in the night to study. According to her, the whole family can be educated if the mother is literate. She is an inspiration for all women of her slum as well as in other slums of Cuttack. She is felicitated by a media house and her case was published in the daily paper on World Mothers’ Day. She was described as a mother with a difference and a model for the rest of the society.
CSO Solved the Drinking Water Crisis
Hundreds of people residing in the slums of Cuttack suffer from diseases like Cholera,
diarrhoea,dengue, malaria and various gastroenteritis diseases every year due to the
non availability of safe drinking water and unhygienic surrounding and contaminated water.
Malgodown slum in our project area is one of them. The only one tube well which catered
to the needs of about 157 families lay defunct and piped water connection is a remote
possibility for the slum.The community of the slum apprised the status to the corporator
and Cuttack Municipal Corporation officials. But nobody paid attention to their genuine
problem. The people suffered a lot during the summer time. The dejected community
then gave representations to the Executive Engineer, PHED and station demonstration in
front of the gate of PHED office led by our CSO members. The Socialist Unity Centre of
India (Communist) (SUCI (c)), Cuttack District also joined the protest. After the
demonstration, the concerned official gave assurance to the community and provided
syntax drinking water tank until further permanent arrangement.
Self Confidence-One’s Backbone
Confidence comes naturally with success but success comes to only those who are confident. This is very much true in the case of Rashmita Nayak.
A resident of Hatigada slum, Rashmita lived with her husband Bishnu Charan Sethi and two children.
Her childhood died prematurely at a very young age when she got married. She could not pursue her
study after class 5 in spite of her keen interest. During the implementation of Samaveshi Sheher
project, IIEC came in contact with Rashmita and knew about her hidden talent and self confidence.
During the community mobilization meetings, she was encouraged to actively participate. She is
a regular participant of each and every training, workshop, meetings conducted by IIEC. She is also
an active member of the CSO at Hatigada while her mother is the Secretary of the said CSOs.
With our consistent mobilization, a Self Help Group (SHG) was formed under the leadership of Rashmita.
The mobilization by IIEC gave impetus to her self confidence and she mustered up courage to stand
on her own. She enrolled herself in a training programme on garment designing and stitching by CMC
under NULM organized by IIEC. She learnt various techniques of stitching during the three months training
Presently she has purchased a sewing machine and bi-cycle taking loan from the SHG. She is going door to door
in her nearby area to get order from customers with her cycle and also giving training on stitching to three girls.
Through her hard work and perseverance she is earning Rs.2000/- per month. She is quite happy now and planning
to do big business during Durga Puja festival.
She is thankful to Samaveshi Sheher project for transforming her dreams to reality.
CBO the Saviour
“The formation of collective in our area under SAMAVESHI SHEHER project revive our lost good governance process and imbibe a ray of hope”. This is the version of Sumati Jena of Tanlasahi slum in ward no.- 8 of Cuttack Municipal Corporation.
The Tulasipur Tanla sahi slum is the house of 264 families. On 29th December 2014, their houses were gutted with the sound of bulldozer leaving the men, women, children, old and the disabled in the open sky in chilling cold spending sleepless nights. Most of the families are living under polythene sheets along Ring Road on the banks of Mahanadi. While making preliminary survey work this slum was selected under Samaveshi Sheher due to their residential vulnerability leading to breakdown of their life dynamism. Our team visited many times for interaction with the community. At that time the slum community did not co-operate with us due to the apprehension that something worse may happen post eviction. But our continuous and persistent mobilization created a ray of hope. The women folk responded well than the men. They keenly participated in the community meetings. The SHGs previously formed were in a defunct stage. They were revived and with the help of those SHG members the survey work was done. Then our target was to unite both the men and women under one platform and we started our process of forming a CBO. It was very difficult to rope in the men folk because of loss of faith in social justice causing indifferent to all machineries whatsoever.
With the facilitation of the collective and persistent persuasion, homes were under construction by OSPHB. But it will take at least one year to finally occupy the new houses. So their temporary accommodation in a transit house was inevitable. On the contrary the administration ignored the need of a transit house for the homeless. Thanks to the collective that they could garner support to influence the administration to complete the construction of a transit house on war footing. And finally it has been finalized to shift these vulnerable communities to the newly built transit houses by 30th Sep 2016. It was a great victory for these victims to make their voices heard loudly and realize their potential.
CBO- An Emerging Force for Inclusive Social Development
“We are now happy to get permanent pucca houses for our family”. This is said by Lily Das of Tulashipur Baurisahi slum under ward no-8 of Cuttack Municipal Corporation.
The said slum is an authorized slum with 147 families. The women of the slum are more active than the men. They are eager to participate in every activity. They want to be independent and have a wish to support their family income. This slum was selected to address the occupational vulnerability. A CBO was formed in 2015 with a total strength of 30 members with 22 women members. The CBO is conducting their regular meetings and carrying out developmental activities of their area. 10 nos. of SHGs are formed under NULM. Different vocational trainings were imparted to the SHG members who happen to be CBO members. Their role in solving the irregularities in construction of houses under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is praiseworthy.
In 2012, survey work was carried out for 147 families and the slum was included in the list of 10 slums where houses will be constructed under RAY. The CMC also entered an agreement with the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) and it was decided to hand over the houses to respective beneficiaries within a period of 18 months. The work started in 2013 and it was found out that the construction company is not transparent in the process. There were severe irregularities which was identified by the CBO formed under Samavehi Sheher. The company did not pay attention to the issue and carried out their norms. The CBO of Baurisahi complained the matter to the concerned authority. For 3 months work was postponed. By persistent complaint by the CBO, the CMC took up the matter seriously and work was restarted with proper supervision by the CBO.
Now till August 2016, 21 houses are handed over to the beneficiaries and 17 nos. of houses are under construction. The community hope that all the surveyed houses will be either constructed or renovated as per their norms Thus in Bauri Sahi, CBO has emerged as an emerging force for inclusive social development.