Bawana is a town in the North West district of Delhi, the capital of India. Around 70,000 people live in this town, while the territory of Delhi counts approximatively 17 million people. Many people have been forced to move to Bawana due to the Delhi slum clearance measures that have taken place in recent decades. However, living conditions in the slums of Bawana are even worse than in New Delhi. Furthermore, the area has the worst pollution in the entire world.Children are most vulnerable to these living conditions, suffering from poverty in the slums, and from the health consequences of pollution.
Since 1976, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bawana.
Delhi, the territory where Bawana is located, is one of the most polluted areas in the world. Many restrictions have been put into place to decrease air pollution, which is especially toxic in the winter. However, an estimated 2 million people die in India due to toxic air pollution. The main causes are car emissions, and the emissions of a coal power plant in the city. New Delhi is infamous for its many traffic jams, and the city counts around 12 million vehicles, most of them driving on petrol or diesel. Children are especially vulnerable to these aspects of pollution, having a negative effect on their health and living conditions. Indeed, 2 million children in New Delhi have irreversible lung damage due to the poor quality of the air.
The infrastructure of New Delhi, which is located about 25 km from Bawana, has been unable to keep up with the rapid economic development. Often people who move to New Delhi in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in one of the slums in the city. An approximate 2 million people live in these poor conditions. In recent years, people were forced to move to Bawana when the Delhi municipal authorities decided to clear several slums in central New Delhi. This created slum relocation colonies, where living conditions are even worse than in the original slums. There is a lack of affordable housing, adequate sanitation and safe drinking water. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, lacking access to healthcare and education.