Sunday, June 26, 2016

Himachal slum demolition sans rehab plan: Oustees warned they can't live in rented houses, left to live in open

By Our Representative
There is flutter in Himachal Pradesh over the manner in which Municipal Corporation Dharamsala (MCD) forcefully eviction around1,500 people -- 300 families -- from well-known hill station Dharmasala's 35-year-old slum area, Charan Khad. Not only the families were ousted, they were "refused" even rented accommodation.
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), an apex body of a large number of mass organizations, quoted local sources as saying that things got worse after the MCD, through a press note issued on June 21, went so far as to state that anyone who provided accommodation to slum dwellers would be liable for action by the MCD, and that they would evict the occupants.
The NAPM reported, “Following this people were thrown out of rented accommodations. They now have nowhere to go – most of the people's children are studying in government schools in Dharamsala.”
Human rights activists, social activists and members of a people's organization, Charan Sangharsh Samiti, met Joint Commissioner SK Chaudhari of the MCD, who has issued the eviction orders,  but he refused to take any responsibility for his actions or respond to the demand for rehabilitation.
“Based on the above circumstances the settlers have no choice but to struggle for their right to housing/shelter”, local sources said, adding, “We need to get the district commissioner, the joint commissioner, and the superintendent of police to get phone calls and SMS from outside, asking why the illegal eviction took place, and asking the administration to take responsibility and respond to the demand for rehabilitation immediately.”
Providing the number of joint commissioner (9418456640), the sources insisted, the demolition is unconstitutional and illegal, that the that the residents of the slum are on the road and at the mercy of weather, that that they need to rehabilitate and give some relief to the residents, and that this is violation of right to shelter under the Constitution.
“The MCD provided no rehabilitation and just dumped the occupants across villages, forests and roadsides around Dharamsala”, the sources said, adding, “Some people sat on common lands, some on lands rented by locals and others rented out rooms while many were roaming the streets – children, women, old, disabled spending nights hungry in the rain.”
Noting that at many places “locals shunted out the occupants and threatened to burn their belongings”, the activist said, the joint commissioner further aggravated the situation by warning that they would not be allowed to live even in rented houses.
“They were not dropped at one place but in small groups across the valley... In some places the locals have threatened them and chased them away but in many others people have been supportive. Children and women, pregnant, ill, exhausted have been braving the rains without any shelter”, the sources said.
“This eviction was done with no adequate procedure and it was the legal duty and responsibility of the state government to rehabilitate them before the ‪eviction drive was carried out”, the sources said, adding, it is a “shame on the Dharamsala administration”, asking people to “write to the district commissioner's office with questions and appeals for action/rehabilitation at dc-kan-hp@nic.in.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, about 150 people of the Charan Khad slum displaced communities organised a protest march against the forced eviction. The displaced people marched from the Shahid Marg park to the Municipal Corporation office, Dharamshala, raising slogans like ‘Garibo ko Ujadna Bandh Karo’, ‘Charan Khad Visthapiton ka Punarwas Karo’.

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