Protests against forced eviction of Delhi slum dwellers to be held

A coalition of non-governmental organisations, groups working for the welfare of the urban poor and slum residents will hold protests in Delhi and other parts of the country seeking consultations with slum residents for their rehabilitation in light of the Supreme Court’s August 31 order for the removal of 48,000 slums along railway tracks in the national capital.

The Centre on Monday ruled out immediate evictions and told the court that discussions were underway to implement its orders. It added no coercive action will be taken against the slum-dwellers until a decision is taken. Congress leader Ajay Maken and slum dwellers have challenged the railways’ demolition notices, saying they had been issued in total disregard for the policy of rehabilitating them amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also Read: Delhi govt offers all help to railways in rehabilitating slum dwellers

The Railway Basti Jan Sangharsh Morcha, the coalition, said it will hold the protests even as it welcomes the Centre’s promise of no coercive action against settlements on railway land for four weeks and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s assurance to slum dwellers that they would be a part of the consultative process over the issue.

Basti Suraksha Manch convener Shakeel Ahmed said they will go ahead with the national day of protest and want the governments to accept their demands. “The residents should be consulted while the state and the Centre draw up a plan for their rehabilitation as it affects their homes and livelihoods.”

Also Read: State, Centre did little to stop SC order on removal of slums along railway tracks: Maken

The coalition wants the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board’s policy for rehabilitation of slums to be followed and in-situ housing provided within 5km of the existing site.

CityMakers Mission International facilitator Indu Prakash said the worst part is the court did not hear over 250,000 residents. “It is a supreme injustice done to these people, especially at a time when the country is fighting a pandemic. These people should be part of the consultative process,” said Prakash, who is also a member of the Supreme Court-appointed committee on monitoring of homeless shelters in Delhi.

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