Seemapuri is mainly a rural zone in Delhi and people may not be too friendly or inviting to outsiders due to the fact that they are mostly rough in their behaviour and rude by inherent characteristics. Though the locals residing in Delhi may not find their language offending, however, tourists and visitors who are not used to the local language and their style of speaking might find it a little rude and unfriendly.
New Seemapuri has the notoriety of being one of the worst slums in Delhi. The reasons could be pollution, filthy surroundings, high incidence of poverty, child labour, unemployment and addiction etc. New Seemapuri is situated at one end of north east Delhi. It has Uttar Pradesh as border on one side and lies adjoining to Dilshad Garden in East Delhi. It is near to Shahadara railway station and bus depot. There is hardly any greenery in its vicinity and lot of dust looms in the sky all the time. The foul odour of rags dumped all over is very strong and the whole sight is very sickening. The New Seemapuri slum saw the light of the day in the year 1970 and a large contingent of people poured in as refugees from Bengal and Bangladesh and gradually, others also joined from states like U.P, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and so on. Most of them live in small little miserable broken huts. The slum, being unauthorized, has no legal water connection, nor electricity connection.
It is basically a heterogeneous community with multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-characteristic features. Most of them earn their bread and butter by picking and sorting of rags. Some are daily wage earners, street vendors, domestic helps, and many other menial jobs which are the main stay of their sustenance. Few of them are also shopkeepers, rickshaw pullers and semi skilled labourers working in the construction sector. The fact remains that many of the families are unable to feed their children with the meagre earnings they make.
People in Seemapuri are predominantly Muslims with some isolated pockets of Hindu valmikis and a handful of Sikhs, Jains and Christians. They do earnestly practice their religion and celebrate all festivals in a very colourful manner and with the pomp and gaiety it deserves. The average members per household are about seven, and all are crammed into one room for the night with hardly any ventilation in the room. As regards education is concerned, although there are two primary schools and high schools, many children don’t go to schools at all. Drop out is a common phenomenon, especially among the girls. It is not due to poverty only, but due to lack of encouragement from parents, poor quality of education and a pathetic literacy level of children and parents. They are a vulnerable lot. Even if the government launches education schemes, education will remain a distant dream for thousands of vulnerable children, unless there is a rise in motivational level of parents in the slum. Chetanalaya has been running non formal educational centres for the children and organizing women into self help groups in the past along with periodical interventions for the improvement of community health. Chetanalaya launched an advocacy programme for claiming the basic rights of the rag-picking community. Formation of focus groups and building of their capacity to take up various measures to claim their rights are the main features of this intervention.
HIGHLIGHTS AS ON 31ST MARCH 2013
- Formation of community focus groups for advocacy
- Monthly legal aid training
- Training on Right to Information Act
- Campaign for ration cards for all families
- Formation of CBOs
- Formation and training of children parliaments