New Delhi: As controversy rages over scams
in Commonwealth Games, a group of NGOs today raised the issue
of "large-scale human rights violation" due to the event,
alleging flouting of labour laws and "arbitrary" eviction of
the homeless and slum-dwellers.
A demand was even made to "call off" the Games, with some
rights activists saying it is creating "negative social impact
and suffering" and disfiguring Delhi`s "urban fabric".
"The Games has brought displacement and suffering for
thousands of poor people in the city. The allegations of
corruption are already there. Delhiites are not going to
benefit by the Games," Miloon Kothari from NGO Housing and
Land Rights Network said at a press conference here.
The groups also raised the issue of the "actual costs" of
the Games, claiming that different agencies are doling out
different figures and there is no accountability.
They demanded halt to evictions, rehabilitation of the
displaced families, probe into diversion of SC funds for Games
and setting up of surveillance centres at railway and bus
stations to prevent trafficking of women during the event.
There was "large-scale violation" of rights of labourers
in various Games construction sites, with workers being paid
two-third or half the minimum wage, wages being held back and
they being made to live in "sub-human conditions", Shashi
Saxena of Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) said.
"There is lack of safety equipment. Parliament has been
informed that 42 workers died at the sites. We don`t know
whether their families have been compensated," she said.
Jawahar Singh from NGO Jhuggi Jhopri Ekta Manch said slum
dwellers have been evicted arbitrarily, without notice and
many a times without compensation or rehabilitation package
for construction purposes related to the Games.
"In December 2009, 2000 jhuggies were removed from Badli,
in January 2009, a community was evicted from Prabhu Market.
There are reports that Delhi government has identified 44 more
slum clusters for demolition," he said.
Mansur Khan of Shahri Adhikar Manch claimed beggars and
homeless labourers are being arbitrarily detained under the
"clean-up" drive before the Games while Rashmi Sinha of NGO
`Apne Aap` raised the apprehensions of increase in trafficking
and prostitution during the sporting event.
Paul Divakar of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
spoke on alleged diversion of Rs 744 crore from SC welfare
fund for the Games by Delhi government and claimed that much
more funds were diverted for other heads in recent years.
"Even if Games turn out to be a success miraculously, it
is evident that serious human rights violations are taking
place...Delhi is becoming an apartheid city. The prime
minister should intervene and some of us feel it is not too
late even to call off the Games," Kothari said.