Skip to main content

Gujarat slum policy in action: No toilet, water, power, ration card, voter ID card to Valmiki slumdwellers

The slumdwellers named it Bapa Sitaram Kamdar Nagar
By Our Representative
While Gujarat government put in place what it called a “policy for in-situ rehabilitation of slums situated on public land” through a government resolution (GR) on July 18, 2013, latest indications from Ahmedabad reveal that it remains on paper for large sections of slum-dwellers for one-and-a-half years after it was promulgated by the state urban development department. In a glaring instance, as many as 69 Valmiki Dalit households, living in makeshift accommodations for nearly 15 years in the midst of posh Jodhpur area of western Ahmedabad, have been threatened that either they clear the area, or they would forcibly removed, the cost of which would be charged from them.
The slum-dwellers, who have named their slum as Bapa Sitaram Kamdar Nagar, told Counterview, this is not for the first time they were threatened. “At least thrice they demolished our huts, but following intervention by a voluntary organization, we were able to stay put here”, said a resident. Yet, their main woe is, they are living without power, water, toilet public or private, no ration card, not even voter ID card. Though they form part of the “policy for in-situ rehabilitation” GR, as they life on a public land, it hasn’t been implemented for them.
Official papers with the slum-dwellers suggest the type of public land they live on, which enables them to take advantage of the in-situ slum rehabilitation policy. A notice they received from the assistant estate officer, New Western Zone, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) says that they are living on Town Planning scheme No 4 (Vejaplur), Plot No 185, owned by the AMC, but it adds, the plot has been kept aside for “sale for residential purpose”, one reason why they should clear it. One of the notices to a resident, Vinodbhai Karsanbhai Vaghela, asks him to vacate as he lives “without any authorization.”
Notice to a slum-dweller suggesting it is public land
Declared when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister, the “policy for in-situ rehabilitation” GR states that the Gujarat government aims at according “priority” to rehabilitate slum dweller families in-situ by providing “houses of minimum 25 sq metres”. The most important qualification is, the slums should be “situated on public land in urban areas of the state”, the GR says, adding, each family would be given a pucca house “with basic amenities having two rooms, kitchen, bath room and latrine.”
While promising to set up a “prescribed authority” consisting of government officials to look into in-situ rehabilitation, the GR says, the policy would be particularly implemented for any area which is “a source of danger to the health, safety or morals of the inhabitants or its neighborhood”, or is “low-lying, insanitary, squalid and overcrowded”. Defining “public land”, it says, this includes “government land, land released under urban land ceiling Act, land owned by urban local bodies, urban area development authorities, public boards, undertakings and public authorities.”
While the policy GR says that the in-situ scheme would be implemented for notified slums, it underlines, “The prescribed authority can notify any area in an urban area occupied by slum dwellers as a slum area and further as a ‘slum rehabilitation scheme’ for the purpose of rehabilitation of that slum” in accordance with a 2010 law enacted for slum rehabilitation. The only criterion is, the slum dwellers’ families that should be living in slums “on or before December 1, 2010.”
Hosla Prasad Mishra of the Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal (KSSM), an NGO working among the Valmikis, told Counterview that a major reason why the slumdwellers of Jodhpur area were sought to be removed is “there is increasing pressure from the builder lobby on AMC officialdom to clear it for constructing a residential-cum-commercial complex.” He added, “The flats being built in the vicinity of the slums cost Rs 1 crore each… The elite in the area are clearly uncomfortable with the very idea of in-situ rehabilitation in the area.”
A visit to the slum area suggests that even the big hype of building toilets for every household has not touched the slum. “BJP people came to us for recent membership drive. But nobody tells us whether they will provide us with toilets. We are not only without toilets or water, there is no power, no sanitation. We are only threatened to be removed from here. We don’t even have ration cards or voter ID cards, though recently we given bank accounts under the Jan Dhan project”, said Babarbhai Manibhai Waghela, a slum resident.
Taken for a Modi-sponsored gharib kalyan mela in Ahmedabad a couple of years ago, the residents complained, they were promised houses at the Modi fete for the poor, but those promises were never unfulfilled. “How can our children study in a situation like this? There is no basic facility. Provide us with shelter, preferably in this area only, and we can progress”, said a slum-dweller, adding, “Currently, rich people around castigate us for being dirty, and want us removed. Of course we are dirty, but they must remember: We don’t have any water supply, no toilet, we have to go out in the open for defecation, and hunt for water in the nearby areas…”

Comments

Anonymous said…
In Vadodara Vangariawar in TPS 18 East of Mnjalpur is the oldest Slum during the times of Maharaj Gaikwad > this is now on the PTP plot reseved for Health Purposes, Finaliged in 1992 with Gazatte notifications. But till 2014 the VMC Vadodara have not taken posession of this plot nor constructed houses for EWS people.In 25 Years the TPS 18 plots of East of Manjaalpur not taken by te VMC. Reason best known to all. where BJP and Congress politicians of Vadodara are responsible. Now they are demolitioning houses of poor peoples against Slum policy of Gujarat State from 1999 submitted in Hon. Gujarat high Court in SCA # 3426 of 1998 Orders dated 5,9,2000 PUCL Vs States and others..

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

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.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk  Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.