spite of the economic growth experienced
in the last decade — particularly in the agricultural
and service economy — a high percentage of Vijayawada’s
population still lives in the miserable makeshift homes
made of scrap plastic, tarp, palm leaves, cardboard,
and mud that litter its landscape. Slums have arisen
everywhere: around markets, bus terminals, swamps, warehouses,
along the river Krishna and the city’s many canals.
263,973 people — approximately 30 percent of the
population — are amassed in 136 slums (Source: Census 2001). These
sprawling slums, which are quite different from one
another, share the total lack of hygiene, drinking water,
and sanitation. They are often located in inhospitable
and difficultly accessible areas. In such god-forsaken
places, where many parents cannot provide for their
children's fundamental necessities, the children
are often forced to look out for themselves the best they
people of the slums are mainly low castes and “untouchables.”
Many of them come from tribal communities. These people
have migrated to the city in search of work, but lack
the necessary skills to make a decent living. 30% of
them are illiterate; most work as “coolies”
(porters) at construction sites, “rickshaw pullers,”
or garbage collectors. The women may find work in the
market or as housemaids.
Care&Share has been serving Vijayawada’s slum dwellers since
1996. Our intervention focuses primarily on the slums
of Kandrika, Brahmarambapuram, Autonagar and Rajarajeswaripeta.
Kandrika: As a part of
the city’s slum clearance program, the huts of
the Kalvakatta slum in the city center were pulled down in May 1999 and
the people were shifted to a location on the outskirts
of the city called “KANDRIKA”. About 1,000
families from the slums of Autonagar, Krishnalanka,
Ranigarithota and Kalavakatta were relocated to Kandrika
overnight, without warning. Each family was given 46
square meters of land to put up a hut. The area, which is now home to 3,500 families,
is surrounded by drainage water and the place is infested
with mosquitoes. It also lacks the most basic infrastructure.
Brahmarambapuram: This slum is located on the banks of River Krishna,
opposite the Vijayawada bus station. There were about
3500 families in the area until about the year 2008. Many
work in the sand quarries in the river bed; others work
as labourers, loading and unloading the sand trucks.
The families live in small huts made of palm leaves,
gunny bags, plastic sheets and cardboard. There is no
drainage in the area and pools of dirty water surround
the huts. It is a brooding place for mosquitoes. The
people suffer from many diseases due to malnutrition.
The slum has been recently washed away by the flooding
of the River Krishna. The local government has subsequently
razed the remaining huts, but some 500 families have defied
the order to vacate the area and have since then returned
to living in the river bed.
Autonagar: It is located on the outskirts of Vijayawada, on the
road to Machilipatnam. The area, which extends for about
270 acres, gets its name from the myriad automobile
workshops and factories located in the area. Nearly
35,000 people are employed here. It is estimated that
7000 children (below the age of 14) work in Autonagar.
About 120 families live here, in small huts by the side
of the road. The huts lack proper ventilation and running
water and are often submerged during the rainy season.
The whole area, moreover, is covered in soot from the
coal fires. About 300 children live in this slum in
very unhygienic conditions, lacking clothing, food and
medical care. Video>>
Rajarajeswaripeta: It is situated on the northern outskirts of Vijayawada.
In December 2001, as part of the Municipal Corporation’s
attempt to move people away from the roadside slums
and occupied government land, about 1200 families were
relocated to RR Peta from different localities. That figure has since grown to 5000. The
government, however, has only shifted families from
one slum to another, without providing any of the basic
infrastructure. Each family has been allotted a plot
of land of about 44 sq yds. The Municipal Authorities
dug 50 bore wells to provide water for daily usage.
But, these wells are shallow; the little water they
provide is salty. The water from the wells is not potable
and is used only for washing and bathing. Hand pumps
have been provided, but many have already been broken
and the ones in use are difficult to operate. Once a
day, drinking water is supplied from the town by water
tankers, but the people say it is not sufficient to
meet their needs. Toilets do not exist and the people
are forced to use a neighbouring field. This lack of
sanitation leads to serious health problems, compounded
by the complete lack of medical facilities.
is located on one of the Krishna River irrigation
canals. Many people there
are engaged in the sex trade. Many men earn a living
by rickshaw pulling and by promoting
commercial sex, while many women work as prostitutes.
Their children live in utter neglect.
Girls are often introduced to the sex trade at an early age.
Young boys work in wine shops and teashops, pick
rags, or sell drugs.
Colony: We have begun providing assistance to
this slum in 2008. After the flood of the River Krishna,
many of the former residents of Brahmarambapuram were forced to
relocate here. This slum is located on a landfill. Approximately 3,500 families live in squalor amidst the strewn garbage.
Work in the Slums
Medical Care: The lack of hygiene,
sanitation, and medical facilities exposes slum dwellers
to all sorts of diseases, often contagious. Over the
years, we have intervened to treat and vaccinate children and adults alike. We regularly conduct medical
camps, organize immunization programs, offer free dental
care, and operated on hundreds of patients.
Literacy: Care&Share has built a school
in each of these slums, to ensure that the children
- who are otherwise deprived of any educational opportunity
- at least acquire basic literacy skills. In some of
these slums, the schools we built are the only buildings
that are standing, providing shelter to the people in times of emergency.
years now, we have been running a milk
program, whose chief goal is to provide every small child
attending our school with at least a glass of milk per
day. This helps us offset some of the disastrous effects
of malnutrition. We distribute 128 liters of milk (32
gallons) every day, for a total cost of 50 Euros ($60).
We spend 19000 Euros ($25000) a year on the milk distribution
program. We have also started distributing
milk to 200 newborns in the Rajarajeswari slum. The
additional cost is 20 Euros ($25) per day.
Self-Sufficiency: We also assist the slum’s many parents and attempt
to provide them with the means to feed their families.
We have often provided slum dwellers with rickshaws
- one of the main modes of transportation in the city
- which cost around $280. To others, who work as fruit
or vegetable venders or iron clothes, we have given pushcarts ($280).
In other cases still, we have provided sewing machines ($115).