Skip to main content

Gujarat slum policy in action: 2,000 Muslim, Dalit slum houses razed ahead of crucial High Court hearing

Vadodara demolition drive: Wither in situ resettlement?
By Our Representative
In one of the most aggressive demotion drives undertaken in the recent past in the name of riverfront development, more than 2,000 houses of slum-dwellers, who were living in Kalyan Nagar area of Vadodara for nearly four decades, have been razed to the ground. According to local people, whose houses were demolished, they were not served individual notices ahead of the demolition. A senior activist from Ahmedabad, who had gone to Vadodara for spot inspection, told Counterview that the only “notice” that was served to them was through a newspaper several weeks ago. Ironically, Vadodara is known as the cultural capital of Gujarat.
“No individual notices were served. People were warned on the previous night last weekend, and their houses began being demolished. The whole process took three days to complete. Currently, instead of houses, a huge pileup of rubble is lying all around, with notices hung that people will not be allowed to enter the area”, the senior activist said, adding, "This has been done to an area known for communal amity, which remained intact even the worst riots in 2002."
Displaced slumdwellers have no place to live
The matter is currently lying in the Gujarat High Court, which is to hear the slum-dwellers’ petition on November 27. However, waiting for what the hearing, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation people cordoned off the whole area, and demolished all the houses. “The women who tried protesting against the demolition were lathicharged and disbursed”, an activist from NGO Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad, who saw the devastation, said, adding, “They were not even given the option of in situ resettlement, which has been turned into a piece of paper.”In situ resettlement is part of the Gujarat government’s slum policy.
Activists suspect a communal angle to the demolition, as 80 per cent of the houses belonged to the minority community, while the rest were those of the Dalits. Most of the people have either left the area and are currently living elsewhere with their relatives, or are just lying unprotected next to the road, braving the wintry nights. “A few houses of dominant caste Hindus were sought to be demolished, too, but following intervention by local BJP workers, this was set aside”, the activist said, adding, “All this is being done in the name of Vishwamitri riverfront development, which is to be developed on the Sabarmati riverfront model of Ahmedabad.”
Intriguingly, people of Kalyan Nagar, who were living on three types of land – government-owned, privately owned and the land owned by religious trusts – were not given any option for providing them with alternative housing either. This was in sharp contrast to 362 houses of slum dwellers of Kamati Baug, which were demolished following notices to them with offers for alternative sites. It is quite another thing that, except 211 families, the rest have not accepted the alternative houses, as people feel that it would affect their livelihood, as the new spot, where they are being sent is some six kilometers away.
Muslim community leaders from Kalyan Nagar area say, things have happened “so quickly” despite the process of negotiating with the Vadodara Municipal Commissioner about possible alternative sites. “We told the authorities to provide houses in Kalali, where about 4,000 units have been built. But they replied that the spot is still not ready, as power connections would have still not been provided so far”, said a community leader, adding, “Now, the two mosques, situation in the area, have been given notice for demolition. This would happen, in probability, on November 26.”
Meanwhile, there were clear indications that the Gujarat government was directly involved in the massive demolition drive. Top adviser of the Gujarat chief minister for water resources issues, Babubhai Navlawala, himself a resident of Vadodara, is learnt to have been holding frantic meetings to coordinate efforts and “push” the Vishwamitri project. Municipal commission Manish Bhardwaj, also known to be close to the chief minister, wants to push the project quickly – he wants master plan for the Vishwamitri riverfront to be ready by the first week of December.
There is also a lurking suspicion that the builder lobby, which is interested in taking up the whole area, directly wants the whole area to be cleared of the slums, one reason why any talk of in situ resettlement is set aside. “The riverfront area does not support heavy housing”, is the authorities’ usual reply, says an activist, adding, “They have been saying this, despite the fact that several multistory building already exist in the area, and they are not even being touched.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
Why the Municipal Corporation sleeping from 2002 when the Gujarat Government and Hon, Gujarat High Court directed the State for Water bodies vide SCA # 10621 of 2000 Orders dated 18.4.2001 and final Orders dated 28.2002. Why after floods of 2005 the VMSS sleeping not to remove Slum Dwellers from Water Bodies. In first phase of Vishwa Mitri river in 2008 there were 4500 slum Dwellers were shown residing in Vishwa Mitri River Front.banks. Refer High Court orders of 3.8.2005 on Buki Kaans. =Read=માન.મુખ્યમંત્રીશ્રી ઇ.મેલસંદર્ભ
તાત્કાલિક પત્ર ક્રમાંકઃ-વમન /૮૧૨૦૦૬/સીએમ.૧૧૬૮/પી
શહેરી વિકાસ અને શહેરી ગૃહ નિર્માણ વિભાગ
સચિવાલય, ગાંધીનગર.
ટેલિફોન નં.(૦૭૯)૨૩૨૫૧૦૩૨.
ફેકસ નં. (૦૭૯) ૨૩૨૫૨૩૦૯.
ઇ-મેઇલ એડ્રેસઃ so-p-ud@gujarat.gov.in
તારીખઃ૧૭/૮/૨૦૦૬
પ્રતિ,
RKD Goel
rkdgoel@yahoo.com
વિષય- વરસાદ ને કારણે વડોદરા શહેરમાં થયેલ નુકસાન બાબત.
શ્રીમાન,
ઉપર્યુકત વિષય પરત્વે ના માનનીય મુખ્યમંત્રીશ્રીને ઉદેશીને લખેલા આપના તારીખઃ-૩/૮/૨૦૦૬..ના ઇમેલના અનુસંધાને આદેશાનુંસાર જણાવવાનું કે, આપના સદરહુ ઇમેલમાં દર્શાવેલ બાબતે જરૂરી કાર્યવાહી હાથ ધરવા ની સત્તા મહાનગરપાલિકાના ક્ષેત્રાધિકારની હોવાથી આપનો ઇમેલ મ્યુનિસિપલ કમિશ્નરશ્રી, વડોદરા મ્યુનિસિપલ કોર્પોરેશન, વડોદરા તરફ જરુરી કાર્યવાહી અર્થે મોકલી આપ્‍યો છે.આ બાબતમાં જરુર જણાયે વધુ પત્રવ્યવહાર સબંધિત કોર્પોરેશન સાથે કરવા વિનંતી છે.
આપનો વિશ્વાસુ,
(એચ.કે.પરમાર),
સેકશન અધિકારી,
શહેરી વિકાસ અને શહેરી ગૃહ નિર્માણ વિભાગ

નકલ રવાના પત્ર(અસલ)સાથે રવાનાઃ-
મ્યુનિસપલ કમિશ્નરશ્રી,વડોદરા મ્યુનિસિપલ કોર્પોરેશન,વડોદરા તરફઃ આ બાબતે જરુરી કાર્યવાહી હાથ ધરી અરજદારશ્રીને તેમજ શહેરી વિકાસ વિભાગને જાણ કરવા વિનંતી..
માન.મુખ્યમંત્રીશ્રીના અંગત સચિવશ્રી, માન.મુખ્યમંત્રીશ્રીનું કાર્યાલય, સચિવાલય, ગાંધીનગર તરફઃઆપના તારીખઃ૧૯/૭/૨૦૦૬ના ઇમેલ નં સીએમઓ/ઇએલએમ/૨૦૦૬/૩૦૬૫૮ અન્વયેજાણસારુ.

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.