Skip to main content

'Stop evicting slum dwellers': ActionAid seminar stresses on land, housing rights

By Our Representative 

A high profile NGO convention “Where will the CityMaker stay?”, organised by Slum Jana Sangathane and ActionAid Association, held in Bengaluru, has concluded that there is an urgent need to stop all kinds of evictions from the slums across the country. In cases where habitation is in untenable land, resettlement has to be preceded by implementing rehabilitation policies built out of participatory processes involving the communities concerned, speakers insisted.
Participated by civil society leaders, policymakers and academicians from 11 States across India, the convention was told, there is a need for national frameworks on minimum standards of housing. However, since land and housing are state subjects, and every State and region within has different requirements, the State government’s proactive involvement in preparing people-centric legislation is paramount.
Community leaders, sharing their testimonies, said, entire slums have been created and evicted on account of infrastructure development in the name of city beautification. In case of evictions, people, when relocated, are often moved to the peripheries of the cities, far away from their place of livelihood and in housing which often lacks basic amenities.
Community leaders also shared testimonies on how all land in some cities is owned by a few corporate entities, which leads to issues with governance in a country where decentralisation of governance to the city level is already an idea not yet implemented.
However, not all hope seems lost, it was suggested. Testimonies of people’s movements and civil society organisations conducting awareness drives, capacity-building workshops, enumeration surveys and interfacing with government agencies suggested that such efforts have led to many states introducing policies and legislations to address the issues of land and housing rights for urban deprived communities.
Some such examples include the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act of 2017, the Punjab Slum Dwellers (Proprietary Rights) Act 2020 and the Karnataka Government Order No: HD 88 SBM of 2020 recognising land rights of slum dwellers. All these legislations and policies have identified the land rights of slum dwellers in urban areas of their respective states, albeit with some differences among them.
Land rights for the deprived urban community should be the means and not the end for ensuring a dignified life for deprived urban communities, it was pointed out. Access to essential services like dignified housing, water and sanitation facilities, electricity and other utility services should follow the right to urban land.
Land or housing should not be viewed only as an asset but also as an essential means, which leads to realising the right to a dignified living and livelihood, not just for the current generation but also for future generations. There is a need for grounded people’s action across the country to ensure that such rights can be realised for all.
Inaugurating the convention, B Venkatesh, Commissioner of the Karnataka Slum Development Board, claimed that more than one lakh slum dwellers across the state have been awarded land titles in the past two years. It was in November 2020 that the Government of Karnataka passed the order to grant land rights to slum dwellers, he said, adding, the Board is working on ensuring a suitable living environment for slum dwellers and emphasised the need to form slum dwellers collectives to advance their rights.
With urbanisation comes a big cohort of people pushed to live in slums across cities. Slum dwellers are not eyesores, but they are CityMakers
Deepak Sanan, former additional chief secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh, noted the pressing need to address the vast scale of the issues at hand and that the two-day convention was a vital endeavour in that direction.Shivaji Rao Dhavale, former chairperson of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, Nasik, spoke of the need to interlink government schemes to provide access to housing to marginalised communities.
Isaac Amrutha Raj, leader of Slum Jana Sangathane, the community-based organisation that has led communities in the assertion for urban land rights, spoke about the campaigns and collective efforts that led to securing of land titles and that more work is needed to advance the rights of deprived urban communities.
Nandini K, who leads ActionAid Association’s efforts in Karnataka, said, “Urbanisation is not by accident but a systematic plan of the state, akin to economic growth. However, with urbanisation also comes a big cohort of people who have been pushed to live in slums across the cities. Slum dwellers are not eyesores, but they are the CityMakers." 
She added, "We need to recognise the contribution of these CityMakers in running the cities. We have to replace the notion that policy making for the urban deprived communities is an act of benevolence of the state with the fact that it is a recognition of their rights.”



What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

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. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.

Why am I exhorting citizens for a satyagrah to force ECI to 'at least rethink' on EVM

By Sandeep Pandey*   As election fever rises and political parties get busy with campaigning, one issue which refuses to die even after elections have been declared is that of Electronic Voting Machine and the accompanying Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail.