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Khori Gaon residents not encroachers but victims of land racket: NGO Team Saathi

Counterview Desk 

Team Saathi, the civil society network which has been working on the ground as well as in the Supreme Court with the people of Khori Gaon village, where about 6,600 dwelling units in Khori have been razed by the Municipal Corpoaration of Faridabad (MCF) that had allegedly encroached 150 acres of what is considered Aravalli forest land, has insisted that rehabilitation of the displaced people “is the moral responsibility of the Haryana government”.
“Fill every house with light – Rehabilitate Khori’ is our fight, Khori Gaon Zindabad! We will fight – we will win”, Team Saathi said in a statement, insisting, “With these slogans and resolve, Team Saathi lit lamps during Diwali on the Delhi border of Khori Gaon. They were joined by the families whose houses were demolished.”

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The lighting of lamps on the border had a special significance. We want the government to understand that those who have Delhi documents are also residents of Khori Gaon. Since the Haryana government did not provide documents and electricity to the majority of the residents in Khori Gaon, out of desperation, they got their documents made with Delhi address.
The government does not seem to have any intention to rehabilitate Khori Gaon residents. The rehabilitation policy is an attempt by the government to repair the old, dilapidated and vacant flats of the Dabua Colony with poor people’s money and then sell it to them.
After the demolition order by the Supreme Court on June 7, 2021, people have been forced to rent elsewhere by selling their household items at a throwaway price. The rental price in the areas around Khori Gaon, both in Delhi and Faridabad, has increased tremendously. 
Hence most people have not been able to find a rental. The Municipal Corporation had announced that a monthly amount of Rs 2,000 will be given to eligible residents. While the amount itself is too little to cover rental cost anywhere, even eligible Khori Gaon residents have not received a single rupee to date.
The process of determining eligibility for rehabilitation by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) is not transparent. The e-portal issued by MCF has many shortcomings; additionally, the updating process is very slow. Food and accommodation arrangements at Radha Swami Satsang were problematic from the starting; however, this facility has been completely closed now.
Residing in the flats of Dabua Colony, in Faridabad, is impossible as they have no services, are very dirty and dilapidated. Though the cleaning and upgrading work has started, the process will take a long time before the houses are habitable. 
As a result, people have been forced to live under tarpaulin sheets. This is a health hazard. And many have fallen ill. The residents have to face humiliation at the hands of the police regularly due to their precarious living conditions. We want to remind everyone that Khori Gaon residents are not encroachers but victims of a land racket.
Hundreds of people sent memorandums to the Chief Minister of Haryana, the Deputy Commissioner, the Municipal Corporation and other ministers before Diwali, but no response has been received. Municipal Corporation and the Forest Department demolished Khori Gaon by stating that it falls on Punjab Land Prevention Act (PLPA) land.
However, now in court, they have argued that it is difficult to implement the PLPA, and hence they want to amend the law. The Haryana Government left no stone unturned to destroy the houses of thousands of poor families of Khori Gaon, but when it came to demolishing the buildings of the rich, the government is talking about changing the law?
This is discrimination and injustice against the poor. Khori Gaon residents built their houses on the land bought from their hard-earned earnings. But the government did not think twice before demolishing them. They have not only made the residents poor but also pushed their children and future generations into destitution.
Despite being victims of injustice, the fighting spirit of the residents is still alive. Matters concerning the Punjab Land Conservation Act will be decided in the Supreme Court on November 15. In the meantime, it is the moral responsibility of the Haryana government to rehabilitate Khori Gaon residents, from which it cannot shy away.

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