Skip to main content

Demolition drive hits poor, vulnerable communities of Chandigarh, Ambala hard

By Bharat Dogra* 

In recent times urban poor households have faced great difficulties due to the pandemic as well as loss of livelihoods and income. In such times they need help and certainly nothing should be done which will increase their difficulties. 
So it is really very disturbing to know that thousands of hut and slum dwellers have been recently threatened by demolitions in two leading and prosperous cities of North India—Ambala (Haryana) and Chandigarh. This comes on top of large scale eviction and demolitions some months back in Faridabad, followed by somewhat smaller scale eviction of Banjara households in Gurugram ( Haryana).
The threatened evictions in Ambala and Chandigarh can still be stopped. There is a strong case for protecting these poorest and most vulnerable households and one hopes that senior lawyers and activists of these cities, as also others who value justice and rights of the poor, will come forward to prevent the unjust snatching away of the shelter of these households.
The Ambala demolition is all the more unjustified as it involves the demolitions of dwellings inhabited by Bajigar-Taprivas communities. Most of the people here belong to denotified tribes/ communities and recently a senior Supreme Court judge had made a special plea for justice to these communities.
Here we have one of those rare settlements where they have been relatively well settled over a period of time, with several essential facilities already provided, and hence eviction will badly disrupt their community life.
Several of them have been associated with folk arts in the past and as the demolition of Kathputli Colony a few years back in Delhi has shown, such demolitions and scattering of community can also destroy any chances of reviving their heritage skills. These people have already stated that they have been careful to keep their distance from railway lines and this should not be used as a pretext to evict them.
In Chandigarh a much higher number of slum dwellers are threatened with demolition particularly in colony number 4 of industrial area phase one and nearby places like Sanjay Colony. 
 To the credit of the authorities it must be also be stated that some households living here previously were earlier resettled at another place in a more or less satisfactory way. However a large number of other households were denied this opportunity of proper resettlement and they are the ones who are threatened now.
From media reports it is evident that according to the perspective of the authorities what is considered to be important is that these people who are now threatened with demolition lack some records or papers. However according to the same reports those who are threatened include elderly people who have seen Chandigarh grow with them from early years.
So if the authorities have a little more patience and spend some more time wth threatened households, they too will realize that people who have been living in the city for many years and have contributed to the city, its buildings and industries with their labour also have a right to live in the city. They may have lost or misplaced some of their papers and records but can this be reason enough to snatch their roof from them in such difficult times?
Chandigarh takes pride in being a modern city and some officials have been saying that their target is to free the city from jhuggies or shanties by the end of this year. But what about the increasing problems and deprivation of the evicted people? Are their sufferings of no consequence? Does their right to shelter have no place in the modernisation and beautification drives? It is sincerely hoped tht a better sense of justice will prevail and these demolitions and evictions will be avoided.
---
*Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; ecent books include ‘Man over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for Our Times)' and ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food’. Pix: Courtesy “Dainik Tribune” (March 4)

Comments

sun bound homes said…
Thank you for this post on the demolition drive that has hit the poor and vulnerable communities of Chandigarh and Ambala hard. I really appreciate the comments on how this affected them. I also really appreciate the articles that were included in this blog post. It's really eye-opening to read about how the Buddha was treated and how the Hindu rulers were able to destroy Buddhist shrines, which is really sad to read.
Is Georgia a Good Place to Retire to

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.