City slums show the dark side of urban development

A Torrent Power officer said: "Before the project was initiated, a survey was carried out. According to the details available with the AMC and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA), there were 2.49 lakh slums in Torrent Power Limited's distribution area. Out of this, only 0.96 lakh were electrified. With the new settlements of about 8,800 new hutments, 14,000 households are yet to be electrified."

With nearly 25 per cent of the slums not having electricity, slum-dwellers have resorted to stealing it from those who have installed metres. There are also 'dealers' who illegally supply electricity to houses.

"My paan shop hardly provides me with any money. Therefore, I supply electricity to houses. I get the wire connections from an electricity metre in the neighborhood. Five to six houses can get electricity from one wire in just Rs 150," claimed Raju (name changed).

While government officials are trying to convince the illegal electricity suppliers to get metres provided by the municipal corporation, the slow process of getting electricity after filling up the application form puts off many.

"I had applied for electricity months back. I own a shop. They are asking us to pay Rs 3,600 to get a connection for commercial usage," said Bharat Thakore, a paan shop owner in Chandlodia slum.

"We are planning to appoint an individual from the slum itself who can take our applications in bulk and give them to the municipal corporation. This will fasten the long awaited process of getting electricity. When we are ready for legal connections, we are being asked for more money," said Thakore.

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