With all the hard work of kids, the look of the area between Barapullah Nallah and the Khusro Nagar in the national capital has been transformed. What was once a dumping ground and breeding ground for diseases now has a different look with a green patch every everywhere and has now been built into a beautiful playground. The positive change was due to the cleanliness drive that some children of the area have undertaken recently. The 25 metre stretch, which is part of Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s (AKTC) Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Initiative, is now a matter of envy for the neighbours! “The project began in 2008. Then work began on the Barapullah flyover, so we had to temporarily suspend the plan. We resumed work in 2013 by cleaning the insides of the Nallah… and the community was involved from 2014-15 onwards,” Jyotsna Lall, director of programmes, AKTC, was quoted as saying by Indian Express. Children, on a sunny Saturday, were busy playing in the park, while their mother soaked in the sun over peanuts. Trees in the area — Ashoka, Peepul and Jamun — are under the care of a child each.
“This was so dirty… everyone would throw garbage here, it would stink. We couldn’t even open the windows. Then, the AKTC team came and told us that mosquitoes and flies breed here, and how it causes pollution and makes us sick. They told us we can change it by telling our parents and neighbours not to litter here,” Barkat told the paper.Children became crusaders of change through games, movies and plays. “In groups, we were allotted an area each and we had to ensure it wasn’t dirty… it was a competition. We also played games like ‘raja, mantri, chor, sipahi’ and ‘Simon says’, and helped pick up garbage,” 14-year-old Mohammed Sameer was quoted as saying.They also played games like ‘safai express’ — in which they formed human train and began the journey from Kachrapur towards Safaipur. Apart from beautification of the place a, another major challenge for AKTC was to connect toilets in 144 homes to the main trunk sewer.
Toilets were in such a poor shape that they had to be replaced with the help of the Delhi Jal Board. The work is not over yet and it will take another five years for AKTC, as it also wants to treat the water eventually, Ratish Nanda, AKTC project director said. It also provided dustbins to the households. Another project has also been started in which household waste is collected on a cost-sharing basis. On bright colours on the walls of the homes, Nanda said, “It has a big impact on the urban landscape. It garners good attention for the Nizamuddin Basti, and the residents take pride and a sense of ownership in their space”. This project has been funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of residents. AKTC, while starting the community programme asked the children to draw their aspirations for the Nallah — parks, boats, and swings. Naheed, 40, a mother of two, said that the children after coming home would tell their parents to throw garbage. After looking at their enthusiasm, the family also changed. Apart from this, the area is not frequented by anti-social elements any longer, making the residents also feel safer.