Updated: Jun 20, 2019

A general view of a street at JJ Bandhu Camp, Vasant Kunj

Vasant Kunj, a prosperous and upmarket neighbourhood in Delhi is home to several prominent personalities. However, it is also home to hundreds of families living in a highly cluttered and swamped slum community (popularly known as jhuggi jhopadi basti) in Bandhu Camp.

In 1992, Prem Singh moved to Bandhu Camp from Uttarakhand [his hometown] with his wife and two children. He worked as a mechanic in a small garage close by. The slum, at that time, lacked basics such as clean water and decent toilets. “There were a total of 235 houses in the slum and none of them had water and toilets. Government water tankers used to come from Kishangarh (a locality close by) and people would collect water standing in long queues,” shares Prem Singh. He also recalls that often holes were dug in the community to check whether there was water for them to collect.

“During those days, one person from each household had to let go of his/her job only to be able to stay at home and collect water from the tanker whenever it came… I was one of them too. Filling water and getting it home was time-consuming and so I had to let go of my job,” he claims.

With each passing year, Prem Singh and his wife began to grow apart which led to her and the children moving back to Uttarakhand. Prem Singh stayed in search of a job and a hope that his family would return one day. The lack of basic amenities such as water, toilets and a clean locality forced his wife to leave. “At least now they visit me once in six months,” he adds with a smile.