Home is where the bus stops

Jul 12, 2012, 06:29 IST | Naveen Nair

Struggling to get themselves a steady income and shelter to live in, family of 12 settle in a BEST bus stop, at a spot where they claim to have lived for nearly 30 years

An Agripada family have taken beating the real estate crunch to new heights, after it was discovered that they have been dwelling in a BEST bus stop for the last three years. While conducting surveys on World Population Day yesterday, students came across the family, who had managed to sustain themselves within the bus stop, which encompasses less than 20 sq feet.

The ‘BEST’ of times: While the family has been living on the spot for the last 30 years, they shifted into the BEST bus stop when it was erected three years ago and have lived there since. Pics/ Datta Kumbhar

Shahzadi Ali Sheikh (60) has been living in the Salvation Army Nagpada bus stop with her two daughters-in-law, two sons and seven grandchildren. The family claims to have been living at the same spot since 1982, even before the bus stop was formed three years ago. Despite the students educating the residents of the area about World Population Day however, the family is looking to continue their legacy undeterred. While Shahzadi claims to be a mother of 10 children, her elder son Amjad Ali who is already a father of 7, is eager to have 4 more kids.

To get out of the rain, they have attached plastic sheets to protect their home, thus entirely overshadowing the bus stop through which BEST bus no 165 plies. While the bus operates on the adjacent lane of the Maulana Azad road due to repair work on the road, Shahzadi assures that they have never caused any inconvenience to the commuters.

Waiting for a bus? The students from the Rotaract Club of Lala Lajpatrai College with the family, who were conducting a survey in the Agripada slum area, about awareness of the population explosion problem on the occasion of World Population Day

“While four of my elder sons work in Delhi, two of my younger sons live with me at the bus stop. The rest of my children live in the nearby lanes in rental rooms. My daughters-in-law and my grandchildren have been living here at the bus stop as we have no steady flow of income in our family and we cannot afford the rent for a house. I have been living with my family for over 25 years now in the same spot where we had our room before this bus stop was formed 3 years ago,” she said.

Ghulam Ali, Shahzadi’s youngest son said, “I was born here in our room where this bus stop currently stands. When bus plies on this route we shift our things behind the bus stop and then in the night we move back into the shelter. But now due to monsoon we have extended these plastic sheets and have permanently shifted our residence into the bus stop. We cook our meals and sleep within this bus stop and will continue to do so until the government provides us with a proper shelter.”

The family is worried about the new board that was put up at the bus stop in the month of May that denotes the regular route of bus no 165. They claim that their local political leader informed them that this bus stop would start functioning post-Ramadan. Though the municipality has demolished their set-up and confiscated their belongings several times in the past, they would again set up their home on the same spot with the remaining belongings. Even if bus no 165 regains this route, they are determined to not shift from the bus stop.

This family was discovered when students from the Rotaract Club of Lala Lajpatrai College, were conducting a survey in the Agripada slum area, about awareness of the population explosion problem on the occasion of World Population Day. 

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