NEW DELHI: Residents of Agra, home to India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal, have renamed some of the city’s housing complexes as a ‘stinky city’ and ‘gutter colony’ in protest against the unsanitary living conditions.
The northern city, which is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country, was included in the Indian government’s Smart Cities Mission in 2016 to develop physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure to improve the quality of life. .
But in parts of Agra, residents say no improvement has materialized since.
Those living in more than 20 housing compounds in the settlements of Shahganj, Jagdishpura, Panchsheel, Navneet Nagar and Mansarovar blame the unfinished roads in the area for causing waterlogging resulting in a foul smell.
“For a long time, we have been asking the authorities to complete the unfinished roads, but no one has bothered to take care of it. As a result, the broken road has now turned into a dirty lake, and we have to cross this road filled with stinky water every day to get out of the settlement,” said Raj Pal Singh, an army officer from looks retired from the settlement of Mansarovar. Arab News.
Construction of the road began in 2009, but work quickly stalled and never resumed, despite promises from local authorities.
“Our local legislator and parliamentarians have given us assurances on several occasions, but nothing has worked so far,” Singh said. “Angry, we decided to name the colony as ‘gutter colony’.”
The protest in which residents painted street signs and changed the names of their neighborhoods began in early October.
In the Panchsheel settlement, which is now a “smelly settlement”, retired banker Bahuran Singh considers what he and others have suffered since 2009 to amount to “inhumane” treatment.
“During the rainy season, the whole area is flooded and no guest, taxi, not even an ambulance can come to these settlements,” he said. “The idea of changing the name is to draw the attention of authorities and politicians and shame them.”
But local authorities say the neighborhoods were built without obtaining all the necessary permits.
“These are illegal settlements and do not fall under our jurisdiction,” Chakreshwar Jain of the Agra Development Authority told Arab News. “We don’t have a mandate to go after illegal settlements.”
Locals are confused about the question of legality, as for the past 25 years lawmakers have regularly visited them to get their votes.
“If we are illegal settlements, then why are we counted as voters here and why do politicians come and get our votes and assure us to solve the problem?” said Lata Sharma, a resident of Mansarovar.
Singh said local lawmakers and parliamentarians have let them down, adding, “In the next election, we will teach them a lesson.”