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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest : A space for social movements > India: Statement against forced evictions in New Delhi | Sept13, (...)

Stop demolish 55,000 households and evict 2.5 lac citizens in Delhi’s informal settlements

India: Statement against forced evictions in New Delhi | Sept13, 2020

14 September

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Railway Basti Jan Sangharsh Morcha

September 12, 2020

We, the undersigned citizens, organisations and movements, write today to urge the Supreme Court to reconsider its order of 31.08.2020 in M.C. Mehta v Union of India & Ors. (Writ Petition No. 13029/1985). The order summarily demands forced evictions of long-established communities on lands entrusted to the Railways in New Delhi. Passed in a long-pending case on waste management in the city, the order will have devastating consequences on the lives, livelihood, dignity and rights of nearly 50,000 households, or over 2.5 lac people. It also comes at a time when the city is barely coping with the assault of the COVID-19 pandemic and will expose marginalised communities to health risks that further compound the threat to their homes, assets and livelihoods.

The order does not address or take into account both established policy protections for residents under the Delhi Urban Shelter Board (DUSIB) policy on relief and rehabilitation (2015), as well the law laid down by the High Court of Delhi in Ajay Maken vs Union of India (2019) – also known as the ‘Shakur Basti’ judgment – that the DUSIB policy (on procedures to be followed in case of forced evictions including adequate notice and clear rehabilitation arrangements) applies specifically and wholly to settlements on Railway land. The current SC order cannot be read or implemented without the procedural safeguards and entitlements to rehabilitation as set out in Ajay Maken, and previous judgments of the High Court of Delhi such as Sudama Singh vs Government of Delhi. Further, it is a matter of concern that no affected resident or community was aware of this case, and therefore has not been able to exercise their right to be heard and represented in a hearing that has such grave implications on their lives. Similarly, the Government of Delhi and DUSIB, whose policies govern these communities, have not been heard on the order. Many of these communities have fought legal battles for their rights before, and have been granted stay orders by the court that protect their homes, after due legal examination of their specific cases. Those have been en-masse set aside by this order, and this should not be done without addressing the merits of their claims on the basis of which the stay orders were granted.

The residents of these communities are workers, are economically vulnerable households, and many are members of SC/ST communities. Many are precisely those that labour to keep our city clean, manage waste and contribute to the city’s economy, producing immense ecological and economic value. It is ironic that their own homes are being threatened under the guise of waste management in a case where slums were never a part of the original petition’s mandate or scope. Sweeping demolitions during a time of the COVID19 pandemic further exposes residents to risk of infection which is deeply irresponsible and unethical, and has significant consequences for the public interest at large. This is particularly so while the National Disaster Management Act and the Epidemics Act have been activated, which insist on a positive obligation of the state to protect and safeguard communities from health and other risks. The United Nations has also called for a moratorium on forced evictions during the pandemic, asserting that losing one’s home at this time could result in losing one’s life.

We, therefore, ask:

∙ That the Supreme Court reconsider and revise its order with immediate effect, in particular the provisions of a three-month deadline for forced evictions within the ‘safety zone.’

∙ That the Government of Delhi and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board accept and assert their responsibility to apply the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy (2015), and commit to abiding by the Ajay Maken and Sudama Singh judgments.

∙That the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, which are cited in both the above judgments, are complied with in order to develop a comprehensive participatory rehabilitation plan for all affected persons.

∙ That all elected members of the Legislative Assembly and Parliament from NCT Delhi publicly perform their duty and protect the rights of all residents of this city.

∙ That no demolitions be carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic while the NDMA and the Epidemics Act are in force.

∙ That the Railways seek to establish a programme to work with communities to voluntarily remove threats within the safety zone without forced demolitions.

∙ That the Government and different agencies come together to discuss the actual issues at hand on waste disposal and come up with a Plan of Action that does not involve the forced eviction and mass displacement of hundreds of thousands of people who are not responsible for the waste generation.

The scale of these forced evictions will represent a blow from which working families of this city will not be able to recover. We urge all citizens to unite stand against this order that violates human rights and Constitutional protections, violates national and international laws and agreements to which India is bound, and betrays every promise we make to each other as citizens of this city.

List of signatories below.

SIGNATORIES AS OF 13.08.2020

o Railway Basti Jan Sangharsh Morcha

o Delhi Housing Rights Taskforce

o Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR)

o National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

o Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)

o National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanisation

o Slum Jagatthu, Karnataka

o Madhya Pradesh Navnirmaan Manch

o Alliance on Land, Livelihood & Housing

o Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA)

o Working People’s Charter

o Rashtriya Awas Adhikar Abhiyan

o Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)

o National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)

o Social Accountability Forum for Action and Research

o CityMakers Mission International

o Forum Against Corruption and Threats

o Delhi Rozi Roti Abhiyan

o Satark Nagrik Sanghathan

o Centre for Promoting Democracy

o SEWA, Delhi

o Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR)

o Main Bhi Dilli Campaign

o Hawkers Joint Action Committee

o M Ward Convenor Forum

o Divya charitable trust, Gujarat

o Baljeet Nagar F-Block Resident Welfare Association

o Peeli Kothi Pul Mithai Rehdi Patri Association

o Bal Vikas Dhara

o Mahila Pragati Manch o Footpath Vikreta Ekta Manch (FVEM)

o Gurgaon ki Awaaz Samudayik Radio

o Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch

o Gurgaon Water Forum

o Jagori, Delhi

o Nari Ekta Shakti Sanghathan

o Koshish, TISS

o Prasar

o ANHAD ( Act Now for Harmony and Democracy)

o AIPWA ( All India Progressive Women’s Association)

o NINEISMINE

o Right to Food Campaign

o Bebaak Collective

o All India Kisan Sabha o AIFRTE ( All India Forum for Right to Education)

o Maadhyam

o PAIGAM (People’s Association in Grassroots Action and Movement)

o Mazdoor Pahal

o Mayapuri B Block Railway Line Basti Welfare Union

o Safdarjung T-Huts Basti Welfare Union

o O-Zone Mukti Sangharsh Samiti

o Workers Dhaba- Wazirpur Mazdoor Samuh

o Delhi Forum

o All India Confederation of Slum And Land Rights Movement

o DHURI - Buikding Sustainable Livelihoods

o SANG - A Youth Collective

o PUDR - People’s Union for Democratic Rights

o DASAM - Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch

Residents of:

o Sansi Camp

o Harkesh Nagar

o Indira Camp CRRI Mathura Road

o B-45, New Sanjay Camp Okhla Ph- 1

o Sanjay Camp Okhla Phase -1

o Gram Kheda

o Lalbagh Jhuggi

o D-Block Seema Puri

o Janta Mazdoor Colony

o GP-Block Pitampura

o Sunlight Colony,Seemapuri Old

o AradakNagar

o Chandarpuri

o E39 Rajendra Prashad Colony

o E 48 Old Seemapuri

o Gulshan Chowk Basti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti

Individual Endorsements

o Hussain Indorewala, Asst. Professor, KRVIA

o Shweta Wagh, Associate Professor, KRVIA

o Nilesh Patil, Joint Secretary, BKS

o Nisha Kundar, Architect - Urban Designer

P.S.

The above statement from Railway Basti Jan Sangharsh Morcha is reproduced here in Public interest and is for educational and non-commercial use