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Apna Shahar — slum-dwellers’ own newspaper

Lucknow, June 11: Now, this is a newspaper with a difference.

Here, what bleeds doesn’t become a lead. Apna Shehar — this hand-written, free of cost, monthly Hindi newspaper is different, right from its content to the reporting and editing staff.

Published by an NGO, the content for this newspaper — government policies to uplift the status of the poor and downtrodden — are reported by the city slum-dwellers. Not only in the state capital, Apna Shehar has got readership in Allahabad, Bhopal and Indore as well.

‘‘Initially it was our NGO members who were gathering news. But since the paper especially focussed on slum issues, we thought of involving the slum dwellers. Our NGOs selected semi-literates from different slums for the purpose, and you can see the result,’’ said Mukesh Kumar, a member of the Vigyan Foundation Club (VFC), which assists the slum-dwellers in taking out the newspaper.

These semi-literate slum-dwellers visit government offices at regular intervals to gather news. They enquire about the welfare polices for the poor there and provide the details to Apna Shehar.

About the newspaper’s contents, Ashok Kumar, a reporter residing in Shiv Vihar, says, ‘‘The poor, especially those living in the slums, are not at all aware about the government policies for raising their living standard. And that is why it’s not surprising that most of the times they (poor) are not able to avail them. Our newspaper highlights such polices.’’

Procedures for availing the housing facilities, lodging of FIRs, employment schemes are the main contents of the newspaper, he added.

Rajesh Kumar, a reporter, and rickshaw-puller, says, ‘‘Initially, we were not aware about the Rickshaw Beema Yojana. But after the scheme and the procedure to avail it was carried out by our newspaper, many got themselves enrolled for the policy.’’

Distributed in almost every slum, the paper is read out in a baithak (meeting) convened in the second week of every month.

The newspaper, which was started in November 2005, took out its eight edition this week. Deadline, which cannot be ignored at any cost in other newspapers, hardly matters for Apna Shahar. It published the latest edition in the second week of June, instead of first week.

‘‘Delay is not new to us, thanks to the paucity of staff. At present, we have only 12 reporters for the eight-page edition,’’ said Mukesh. He said the delay doesn’t affect the edition, as it has nothing to do with any issue of topical value.

Date posted: June 12, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 473