When slum residents in the Janta Camp area in New Delhi heard that the G20 Summit would be held in the Indian capital, which is about 500 meters from their homes, they hoped that it would also bring benefits to them.
In fact, they were forced to lose their place of residence.
Dharmender Kumar, Khushboo Devi and their three children are among the many people in Delhi whose homes have been destroyed over the past few months – a move that residents and activists say is part of an effort to beautify the summit on September 9 and 10.
Some of those living in the slum asked the Delhi High Court to stop the evictions but the court ruled the settlements were illegal. Then the city government ordered them to vacate the settlement by May 31.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government official , who was in charge of the demolition, said the houses were built illegally on government land and their removal was an “ongoing activity”.
The houses in the slums like the Janta Camp took years to build, like patchwork. Most of the residents work around the site and have lived for decades in their small homes.
The demolition started four months ago. The bulldozers came one hot May morning, with video footage of the demolition showing makeshift houses made of tin sheets being flattened, while their residents stood watching, some of them crying.
The encampment near Pragati Maidan, the summit’s main venue, is emblematic of much of Delhi’s landscape, as many of the city’s 20 million residents live in largely unplanned districts that have mushroomed over the years.
As of 2021, Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, told parliament that 13.5 million people were living in illegitimate colonies in the city.
“The government is demolishing houses and displacing vulnerable people in the name of beauty without any concern about what will happen to them,” said Sunil Kumar Aledia of the New Delhi-based Center for Holistic Development, which works with the homeless .
“If this had to be done, residents should have been warned in time and found a place where they could be rehabilitated.”
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that squatters have no right to occupy public land, and at best, can take time to vacate the land and apply for rehabilitation.
Reclamation, not Beauty
At least 49 demolitions in New Delhi between April 1 and July 27 led to nearly 93 hectares of government land being reclaimed, junior housing minister Kaushal Kishore told parliament in July.
“No houses were demolished to beautify the city for the G20 summit,” he said.
Source : Tempo.co