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India's urban plight: Of 49,000 families forcibly evicted in 2010-15, less than 20% found "eligible" for resettlement

By Our Representative
An estimated 49,000 families, or over 234,000 people, in urban areas were evicted forcefully from their homes between 2010 and 2015, according to information collated by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), which represents tens of people’s organizations fighting for housing rights across India.
The just-released HLRN report, “Housing and Land Rights in India”, says, this number “only reflects cases reported to the HLRN”, adding, “The actual figure, therefore, is likely to be much higher.”
At the same time, the HLRN says, during 2014-15, thanks to “social activism, civil society advocacy, and timely intervention from courts, saved over 47,000 families – who received threats of eviction—from losing their homes.”
The report believes, “All reported forced evictions have violated multiple human rights of affected persons, including their rights to adequate housing, work/livelihood, land, health, food, water, education, information, participation, and security of the person and home.”
Pointing out that “children and women are the worst affected”, the report says, “The failure to provide compensation for loss of housing and possessions has resulted in growing indebtedness that adversely impacts the right to an adequate standard of living.”
The report says, “Eviction Impact Assessment studies carried out by HLRN and its partners in Baljeet Nagar, Delhi, and Topsia, Kolkata, for instance, revealed that each evicted family suffered a loss of over Rs 150,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively, apart from the psychological trauma suffered by the families because of the eviction.
“In majority of instances of forced evictions in India, the state does not provide rehabilitation to the affected families on grounds that they are ‘encroachers,’ ‘squatters,’ ‘illegal,’ or ‘ineligible’,” the report says, adding, “Most states have a ‘cut-off’ date before which the individual/family should have been living in the city in order to qualify for resettlement benefits.”
“For instance, in Mumbai it is the year 2000, while in Delhi it has recently been changed to February 14, 2015”, the report says, adding, “Each affected family has to furbish a list of requisite documents in order to be considered ‘eligible’ for resettlement.”
The report comments, “The continued existence of a ‘cut-off date’ for the urban poor is nothing but an institutionalized tool of exclusion and places an inordinate burden on the urban poor to prove the duration of their residence in the city. Families that are not resettled are forced to make their own housing arrangements” or are “rendered homeless.”
“For the small percentage of families—approximately 15–20 per cent—considered eligible for resettlement, the state provides alternative plots or housing in undeveloped colonies, generally located on city peripheries and at great distances from affected persons’ places of work, education, and healthcare”, the report says.
The report says, “Issues such as tenure insecurity resulting from short-term conditional leases; absence of basic services; and, the lack of safety for women, are reported from most resettlement sites across the country, including in Bawana, Narela, and Holambi Kalan in Delhi.”
“In Gujarat”, says the report, “Over 15,000 families displaced from various projects, including the Sabarmati and Kankaria Riverfront development, and road-widening projects, have been inadequately resettled and continue to witness deprivation, violence, and conflict.”
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Click HERE to download the report

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