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16 years after Gujarat riots, 3380 families live in 83 rehab colonies without housing rights, basic amenities

By Our Representative
Data compiled by several of Gujarat's civil society organizations, who have worked for the rehabilitation of victims of 2002 communal riots, in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, died, have revealed that, as of today, as many as 3,380 displaced families -- or about 17,000 persons -- continue to live in 83 rehabilitation colonies in the state.
Calling them Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs), an internationally recognised term coined for identifying those who are forced to leave their place of living due to violent conflicts, a note prepared by Janvikas, an Ahmedabad-based NGO which has been involved in coordinating the rehabilitation process, says that maximum number of colonies, 17, are in Anand district.
This followed by Ahmedabad 15, Sabarkantha 13, Panchmahals 11, Mehsana 8, Vadodara 6, Aravalli 5, and Bharuch and Kheda 4 each. All 83 colonies, contends the report, lack basic amenities, and those residing here do not have any ownership rights. They do not have access to internal or approach roads, and access to gutter system and street lights.
Despite the fact that, claims the note, as many as six applications have been sent to the Gujarat chief minister since September 2, 2015 pleading for basic facilities to the 83 IDP colonies, nothing has happened, as it became clear from a Right to Information (RTI) reply of May 3, 2017. This is apart from 15 applications that have been handed over to district-level officials by local social workers and organizations.
The data of colonies are based in those provided by organizations which have worked for IDPs' rehabilitation in the colonies -- Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, Gujarat Sarvajanik Relief Committee, Islamic Relief Committee, United Economic Forum, apart from several small local trusts and individuals.
Providing a complete list of the 83 rehabilitation colonies, the note wants that the state government must urgently work for evolving a "separate rehabilitation policy (housing/ education/ basic amenities/ livelihood/ health services/ entitlements) for people who have been displaced", insisting, a separate housing policy -- encompassing both (urban and rural housing policy --should be formulated "for people who have been displaced due to Gujarat 2002."
It demands, "State government proactively works to make the title clear and transfer of ownership of houses in the name of Victims. Those trusts who have documents of colonies should initiate the process of transfer of ownership."
The note says, "The state government should take immediate measures to provide basic amenities like drinking water, sanitation, access to health care facilities to people living in colonies", adding, it should make "a special programme and budgetary allocation for provision of basic amenities for families displaced due to communal conflict under the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme."
Pointing out that "under the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme, the state government received Rs 2 lakh in the year 2014-2015, and Rs10 crore for the Multi Sectoral Development Programme" minorities, the note says, "The unspent fund should be utilized for provision of basic amenities in the IDP colonies of Gujarat."
Significantly, both past and present Indian governments have refuses to admit that there are any IDPs in India, who are defined by the United Nations report, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence."
These persons or groups have had to leave "in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border", it adds.

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