City: Delhi / NCR

Have you been to the Surajpur wetland, near Surajpur village in Gautam Budh Nagar district? Located in the midst of an expansive industrial city under the administrative purview of the Greater Noida Development Authority, it reveals itself as a mosaic of a sprawling lake, towering trees and thousands of birds, many flying in from distant lands. As you enter the wetland, the guards tell you not to go beyond the second viewpoint. It is untamed territory, the domain of many wild animals, they warn.  However, all has not been well in this sanctuary of nature. In January 2024, the Uttar…

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'Galli Number 4', Seelampur in New Delhi is well-known for being India's largest e-waste market. Birds fly over a sprawling stream of dirty, black water overflowing with a deluge of plastic, and metallic waste. Children sift through the refuse with their small hands delicately exploring the piles of garbage hoping to find something of worth that could fetch them a few rupees.  Narrow lanes and footpaths are riddled with discarded mobile phones, defunct computer supplements, broken guts of a circuit board, cuts of optical fibres, and various other dead and rejected electronics.  This suburb in Shahadara district of east Delhi,…

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“I have been living in this shelter for almost three months since it was set up. It has helped me survive the bitter cold; otherwise, I might have died on the streets,” says Raj. Raj has been residing in a temporary shelter in the vicinity of Daryaganj that the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) had set up as a response to the extreme cold experienced by Delhi's homeless population. This last winter, DUSIB had established 190 shelters accommodating approximately 8000 people across the city. These tent shelters are part of DUSIB's winter action plan to address Delhi's extreme winters.However,…

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In April 2023, even as picturesque images of a rain-soaked Delhi circulated on social media, farmers in the region were in fact living through one of their worst nightmares. The Indian Meteorological Department recorded 20.1 mm of rain in the national capital, marking a 23% increase from the monthly average of 16.3 mm. Things got worse during the months of July and August, as the Yamuna River overflowed, devastating numerous fields. Weather events such as these are just one among the plethora of challenges faced by urban farmers in Delhi.  Ask Abhishek Dhama, a resident of Palla village in Delhi.…

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"There isn't much garbage coming to the landfill now," says Rahim, 36, a waste picker working in the vicinity of Bhalswa. "Earlier, we would retrieve e-waste alone worth 500-700 rupees, but now it's dwindled to a mere 150-200 rupees." Saira Banu, 40, another waste picker, says "Whatever waste gets dumped these days, the trucks pick them up at night, leaving almost nothing for us. It's no longer as profitable as it used to be in the past years." Saira has been working for over two decades around Bhalswa. "I used to come here from Jahangirpuri to collect waste before marriage,…

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Paro, 26, a resident of Shraddhanand colony in Bhalswa, and her friends wait patiently for the water tanker, surrounded by buckets and barrels – a routine that repeats twice weekly. "We pause all our tasks to ensure we secure enough water. It's only available twice," Paro remarks. For years, Paro and her fellow colony dwellers have relied on water tankers. The local groundwater, tainted by the adjacent Bhalswa landfill in northwest Delhi since 1994, makes it a necessity. Meena, 36, standing alongside Paro, succinctly notes, "Khate (landfill) ki wajah se pani achha nahi hai." [The water quality is poor because…

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Only the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) even mentioned this in its 10-point poll promise list. The menace posed by stray animals — cattle, dogs and monkeys — in Delhi. None of the other contestants to the Delhi Municipal polls had thought this was a serious enough problem to make it a campaign point. While Congress ignored the issue, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a single line in its 12-point manifesto: “We are committed to provide better parking facilities and solving the problem of stray animals”. While other issues such as clearing of landfills, sanitation, street vendors etc. were stressed…

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This is the second story of a two-part series on why finding a sustainable solution to regulate Delhi’s legal and illegal street vendors is so difficult. You can read Part I here. Kuldip Singh Sawhney, president of the Sarojini Market Shopkeepers' Association, says they moved a case against the street vendors in the Delhi High Court in September 2021. “Our plea was that according to the Master Plan 2021, the vendors holding capacity of this market is 60 to 80. On an adhoc basis, 65 vegetable stalls were allowed and there are 125 Thareja vendors. In addition, 324 of the…

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This is the first of a two part story on why finding a sustainable solution to regulate Delhi’s legal and illegal street vendors is so difficult. Ask the best-dressed girl in Lady Shri Ram College or Miranda House where she bought the smart top she is wearing, chances are she will tell you “SN (Sarojini Nagar market)”. The checked cots wool shirt or cushion covers and tablecloth with exquisite embroidery in that posh Gurugram apartment would most probably also have been “picked up “as a “bargain” or to “help the craftspersons/roadside vendors”, from the footpath in Janpath. Ditto for the…

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It was an encouraging clean air start of October for Delhi. The capital recorded five good AQI days in the first two weeks of October. But the good news ended there. The annual nightmare of poor to severe and very severe air quality in Delhi and adjoining areas soon returned. And with it, the annual nightmare of strict and systematic implementation of the different stages of the revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the NCR which had kicked in from September 11th. Air quality had continued to deteriorate before and after…

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