Community understanding of Bapu Nagar slum, Bhopal

Nidhi Shukla

A recent meeting happened with Muskaan organization staff and it has been decided by CPHE team in Bhopal and Muskaan that CPHE will support Muskaan in Bapu Nagar, Rajeev Nagar, and Gautam nagar slums of Bhopal.

We visited two slums in which Muskaan is running balawadis (crèches). The slums- Bapu Nagar and Rajiv Nagar have inhabitants from different cities in Madhya Pradesh as well as migrants from Gujarat, Bihar and Rajasthan. CPHE Bhopal team of Ravi D’ Souza, Nidhi Shukla and Saiyed Ali visited the balwadis and also had an interaction with the Anganwadi workers. The houses are made of tin shed. There are open drains everywhere and the houses are closely built with narrow lanes. The houses do not have toilets but each household has a tin shed toilet outside the house. The inhabitants store water in tanks and containers which comes twice a day through the water taps provided around every corner in the slum. The drain water can be seen mixing up with the piped water supply as at many places the pipes are broken.

The team is visiting Bapu Nagar slum on a daily basis with the intern Ms. Mariyam. The slum dwellers comprise of the Jhara community and the other backward communities (OBC) and Scheduled Caste (SC) communities. The community has around 200 households with an approximate population of 1000-1100. The houses lined in the front part of the community are of the Jhara community. They are migrants from Rajasthan. They earn their living by making jharas (sieves) out of metal and selling them off. The other majority of inhabitants are from different communities. They are mostly working as daily wage labourers or auto rickshaw drivers etc. The community has an anganwadi which has to cater to the health, nutrition and education needs of young children, adolescent girls and pregnant & lactating women from the community. The women of this community are only involved in their household work, labour work in agriculture. They don’t work as domestic workers and construction workers. This community have their own panchayat (local body) where they resolve disputes. The girls get engaged at a very young age and get married at 18 years of age. The girls in the community drop out of schools once they have completed their education at the nearby government school up to class 10th. The boys after completing schooling from the evening shift of the same school take admission in other schools to complete education till 12th. The women shared that they have institutional delivery since as per the government scheme, they get Rs 1000 for the same. The inhabitants shared that there are many hospitals near the community out of which 2 are government run hospitals. The water supply is good and there is no shortage of water. The adolescent boys work at stores/shops while the adolescent girls in the community do house chores and take care of their younger siblings after school hours. A large majority of the slum dwellers are being resettled into houses in the Multi storey buildings near by the slums. The government is providing houses to only those slum dwellers who have registered property document (patta). For each house, the slum dwellers would have to pay Rs 120,000.

We observed and participated in the activities at the Balawadi. The children at the balawadi are provided with non-formal education. The children are further supported in getting admission in formal school setting. Along with this, the children are provided supplementary nutrition through the balawadi. Muskaan has been working with the people in these slums for several years now, and is mainly involved with education related activities. It has recently begun monitoring weights of children in the slums as a first step towards becoming involved in issues related to nutrition.

We interacted with the community people to understand their food practices, common illnesses in the children, health services available, health seeking behavior, etc.