North Delhi


Jahangirpuri, which lies in north Delhi has a large slum cluster comprising of rag-picking families, mostly Bengali Muslims migrated from eastern part of India particularly from Bengal, Bihar and adjoining areas of Bangladesh border. Jahangirpuri has a dense population of more than 5 lakhs and it is basically a resettlement colony divided into 12 blocks. The problem of rag picking is more prevalent in Blocks such as C & CD Park, EE (E Extn), sG, H, K and I blocks although, we are covering 12 blocks in Jahangirpuri. The other blocks are A block & A-Block DDA Flats, B D, E, F, and, J blocks. The total population of rag picking children and families would be about 20%. Approximately, there are above 5000 households residing in these jhuggis and engaged in this enchanting trade of pick and sale of rags. Hindus comprise of about 30% of the total rag picking population and the rest are Muslims. The issues prevailing in the colony are unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, poor health and sanitation, domestic violence, child labour, female foeticide, alcoholism, drug abuse etc. Rag-picking as such is highly rampant in Jahangirpuri. In every household at least one parent and one or more children go out for rag-picking on dawn of each day. It is indeed a hazardous job. The children as well as parents are prone to various diseases such as tuberculosis, scabies (skin disease) and asthma etc. They move about in shabby and filthy attire and often get injured by glass pieces, tin, iron rods etc. Besides, they get bitten by mosquitoes and other insects and they frequently fall ill. Some of them are suspected to be HIV/AIDS patients but unaware of the disease. Chetanalaya started its systematic intervention for the development of rag-picking community since 2001. Chetanalaya is working in six blocks by way of running a lot of educational and other programs. The rag-pickers’ education programme is meant for social, educational and economic development of the rag-picking community. Children’s parliament ensures participation of children in decision-making process. Hundreds of youth every year are beneficiaries of vocational skills training and youth development. Thousands of women are economically and socially empowered through self help groups. Various stakeholders acknowledge rag-pickers development project as a model project and every year hundreds of students from various premier social institutes and social workers from within the country and abroad make exposure visit to this place to see the successful combination of advocacy and service delivery in the project interventions.


Mukundpur colony is situated on the border of Delhi and Haryana opposite to the resettlement colony of Jahangirpuri. Mukundpur colony dates back to 1984 when migrants from different states started settling in. The migrants started settling based on regional affinity. It comprises of migrants from the states of U.P., Haryana, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, M.P. etc. The village, once an agricultural land, has now been converted into a colony. The total population of the area is about 160,000. The total number of families is 26,000. The majority (82%) of the residents of Mukundpur colony are Hindus, 16% are Muslims and a meagre of 2% is Sikhs and others. The migrants speak Hindi though it is of colloquial in nature. The number of joint families is negligibly few. The average size of a family is six.

Generally the men have studied up to class 5 and the literacy percentage is 45%. The literacy rate among women is on 25%. As in most villages, girls are not encouraged to go to school. Fear of safety, coupled with other difficulties like distance of the school result in girl child remaining illiterate. Although compared to girls, greater numbers of boys are enrolled in the school; very few of them go beyond primary schooling. The dropout rate is about 60%. People have migrated here in search of jobs and are engaged in different kinds of jobs. About 40% of the men work at the Azadpur vegetable and fruit market as labourers and street vendors. About 25% of people work as daily labourers in the nearby private industries. Some are engaged as construction workers, rickshaw pullers, drivers etc. 15% are agricultural labourers. The rest do various types of odd jobs including rag-picking. 80% women sit at home doing household jobs. 20 percent women go out for job as housemaids.

In the entire Mukundpur colony there is only one primary school. The nearest high school is in Jahangirpuri which is at a distance of 5 km. There is no transport facility. Lack of interest of parents, low motivation, lack of infrastructure in the colony, fear of safety, distance, economic pressures etc. make the schooling of the children difficult especially for girls. There is no Government health programme in the colony. Nearest Govt. hospital is in Jahangirpuri. Over the years, Chetanalaya initiated several development interventions in Mukundpur. The child rights movement helped over one thousand children’s to be admitted in the school. The advocacy for a new school building forced the government to demolish the old and dilapidated building and build a three storied school with better facilities. Over hundred children were taken back from child labour. Every year hundreds of youth pass out of vocational (skill) training centres of Chetanalaya. There is a community based programme for the disabled children and a special education school for the mentally challenged school, initiated by Chetanalaya. Around 400 SHGs are facilitated by Chetanalaya in Mukundpur.


Bhalswa resettlement colony is a large plain and low lying land with no proper drainage or sewage system. A single rain can flood the whole area with drainage or sewage water making it almost uninhabitable. Devoid of any vegetation or tree growth in the vicinity, the whole area is open to the rage of the elements of nature especially fire and winds, that often devastate the area. The people of these colonies are migrants from the states like Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Haryana. They belong to various cultural and linguistic communities. However, language for communication is Hindi. People live in poverty and misery. Roads, medical facilities, school, electricity, big shops etc. are beyond their reach. Economically they belong to poorest strata of the society. They earn their living doing all sorts of odd jobs like construction work, pulling rickshaws, auto-driving, rag-picking, vegetables/fruits venturing, laundry work, etc. Since work is not regular, often the families are left to starve. The women folk are largely engaged in household works. They work as domestic workers and earn Rs. 500 to 1000 per month. Cases of atrocities on women such as rape, molestations, beating etc. are common when they work in houses. They become easy target for house owners to accuse them of theft and it results in police harassment and loss of job. Knowing the needs of the area and the situation of the people, Chetanalaya took up the challenge of working in this colony. It has built a very good rapport with the people. Chetanalaya initiated women’s groups, started the SHG interventions, organized smart education and took up several social and community issues besides bringing the people on a developed platform.

  • Help Them to Help Themselves
  • Help Them to Help Themselves