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Bulldozers, cops 'used' to demolish 600 plus houses off Delhi, whither rehabilitation?

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai*

Demolition has continued in Khori village during the first monsoon rains in Delhi. Sitting in the comfort of her office, Garima Mittal, the commissioner of Faridabad Municipality, carried out the demolition drive.
On July 14, more than 300 houses were destroyed near the blue board, Jharkhand Colony and Sardar Colony, in Khori. These were not abandoned houses but those where people have been residing. Temples and mosques were also demolished. All this is going to continue for the next few days.
More than 600 houses were demolished on July 15. Close to 1,000 houses have been demolished till now.
No transit camp or alternative accommodation has been provided for these residents yet. The on-ground implementation of the rehabilitation policy announced two days back is entirely different from the government’s statements.
In the midst of the epidemic, the Haryana government has made people homeless in this rainy season. No alternative accommodation has been provided. The rehabilitation plan shared with the media shows that the state has no understanding of poverty and unaffordability.
This inhuman act happened only a few kilometres away from the Parliament and the Supreme Court, which were the protectors of Article 21 of the Constitution.
From June 7, 2021, the Haryana government has deployed thousands of police forces around Khori Gaon. Bulldozers have been stationed from time to time to scare the people. Other times 50 people of Municipal Corporation Faridabad reached on foot to break the houses. Ultimately JCBs are being used to destroy the houses now.
In the middle of all this, on behalf of the Haryana government, the Chief Minister also spoke about the rehabilitation of 1,400 people. Recent communication from the commissioner of Faridabad Municipal Corporation says that only those with electricity bills, voter ID card from Haryana and those whose income is less than Rs 3 lakh are eligible for rehabilitation.
However, the rehabilitation sites are not ready and won’t be for the next six months. The government also announced a payment of Rs 2000 /month rent to the eligible residents for this period to arrange their own accommodation. But the situation at the ground level is that the very next day after this announcement, the bulldozers reached Khori Gaon on the morning of July 14. Police in large numbers were also present. Helpless residents gathered in front of the police.
Some people had visited the so-called flats that have been promised in the name of rehabilitation. However, they are in bad condition; bars are coming out from the roofs of the flats. The Haryana government wants to recover Rs 3,77,500 by handing over its poor quality houses to poor people. Hence, these residents have completely rejected this offer.
In Khori Gaon, residents end up paying 12 to 16 units for electricity. They also have to purchase water for drinking and other domestic use. Haryana and Delhi governments both have to take responsibility for these poor people, who have been living in such dire conditions on a post-quarry landscape.
Regrettably, there is a lot of confusion among the people due to the absence of a single organization in the entire Khori village and multiple cases filed in various courts.
They have faced lathi-charge in Khori Gaon and on streets of Delhi. They had also spent a day in prison when they were arrested
The systematic information about the order of June 7 has not been communicated to many people. The only information that was shared was by the police and that too, to vacate their houses. While some political parties have reached here, major political parties are nowhere to be seen.
The National Association of People’s Movement (NAPM)’s leader, Medha Patkar, had visited this settlement. Similarly, Chaduni, a leader of the farmers’ movement, had also come here. From time to time, Khori Gaon residents have gathered in Delhi and Haryana for a sit-in demonstration whenever they have been summoned by different social organizations, political parties etc. They have faced lathi-charge in Khori Gaon as well as on the streets of Delhi. Additionally, they had also spent a day in prison when they were arrested.
Residents are agitated and shocked. They also understand the reality of the rehabilitation promise and the loss of their own space built through years of hard work. It has also become impossible for these families to get houses on rent in the surrounding areas.
The order of the Supreme Court should be obeyed not in words but the human spirit. The forest, which is just dry hills now, is very important. But what about the cost of millions of lives? The Haryana government has not yet taken steps to remove the big hotels, farmhouses, and other big properties sitting on the forest land.
On the other hand, the Haryana government has appealed to the Supreme Court to open mining operations in the remaining 2% of Haryana forests in the pretext of dealing with the unemployment crisis due to coronavirus.
We have demanded from Haryana Government that:
  • A systematic survey should be conducted with the people living in Khori Gaon.
  • They should file their reply in the Supreme Court with a proper action plan for their rehabilitation and the process of allocation of funds.
We have demanded from the Delhi Government that:
  • Conduct ground verification urgently to demarcate the boundary.
  • Immediately conduct a survey to identify the families who possess Delhi identity cards
  • Intervene and extend the “Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB)” policy for rehabilitation to all Delhi ID card holders.
---
*With Concern Citizens for Khori Gaon, National Alliance of People’s Movements

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