I saw a prototype of what
Indira Nagar has spread from a few houses built off the main road of Chimbel in the mid-70s. Victoria Fernandes aka Mummy can measure the growth of her political career in direct ratio with the growth of Indira Nagar. “First no one wanted to stay there,” she told me, “There was too much sickness and disease and they kept seeing the ghost of a priest. But I went and stayed there with them for a while and everything was better. I fought for them all these years, to make their conditions better and better. Now more and more people want to come and stay here. These are my people,” she said. The sickness stopped and the priestly ghost disappeared permanently. I explored the colony escorted by two panchs, one from Tamilnadu and the other from Andhra Pradesh; both have spent most of their lives in
The original cluster of houses built by the Union Government was a cluster of tiny 20 sq metre houses. These were divided and subdivided, let and sub-let, as more people poured into Goa from the southern states, they found their way to Indira Nagar which began spreading and growing like living thing expanding along its sides and crawling up the hill. Even a block of toilets was converted into living quarters and rented out.
A mysterious fire engulfed a part of the area, but like the Phoenix Indira Nagar emerged from the ashes stronger than ever and continued growing with subsequent governments. Houses were demolished and rebuilt as neat 100 sq metre homes under the 20-point programme by Governor Bhanu Pratap Singh. Once section came up during Manohar Parrikar’s time and the rest during Pratapsing Rane’s numerous stints as CM. Throughout their angel of mercy was Mummy Victoria Fernandes and they her largest votebank.
The houses are painted and plastered, thanks to the recent elections where Jennifer Monserrate and Victoria squared up to each other and doled out largesse. The slum has two temples, two churches and one large mosque with an Anjuman Islam school on the premises occupying pride of place up on the hill. The school has computers sent from the Central Government, computers with Urdu software. The mosque has four minarets pointing at the sky, all four donated by a wealthy Muslim. There are three burial grounds at the top of the hill, one Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian.
There was not much garbage lying around, maybe because in the run-up to Ganesh Chaturthi, sixty trucks of garbage were lifted from Indira Nagar. No one knows where they dumped their load.
It’s a mini-India or a prototype of
There’s gambling, alcoholism, and every other vice one can think of. Fights break out on a regular basis and they knock on
(Published in Herald January 13, 2008)