Slum dwellers evicted without notice, officials pass the buck

New Delhi: They own ration cards, voter IDs and some even passports but a number of slum dwellers in the capital are being forced to stay in makeshift homes after being evicted from their houses without a notice prior to the Commonwealth Games.

The Arjun Das Camp near Thyagaraj stadium was demolished in January 2009 and nearly 500 families lost their homes without being intimated about the clean-up drive, claimed "Planned Dispossession: Forced Evictions and 2010 Commonwealth Games" -- a report by NGO Housing and Land Rights Network.

The land is owned by NDMC and is currently vacant with a few families residing in makeshift homes in a portion. "We have ration cards and other identification papers.

Even then we were removed and were not given a notice. They said this eviction was for the Games. Currently, the land is vacant so some families have moved back after bribing some officials," claimed Mathura Prasad, 'Pradhan' of the camp.

According to the UN Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement 2007, appropriate notice to all potentially affected persons that eviction is being considered must be announced in writing, sufficiently in advance.

"Arjun Das camp was allotted to NDMC by Land and Development Office and we are creating a sub-station there.

All procedures were followed and it is not necessary to serve notice in case of an unauthorised area. If they posses identification cards, I don't have any idea but we allocated them adjoining areas," said Anand Tiwari, Chief PRO of NDMC.

Out of the 19 sites, eviction notices were served to only three slum clusters by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) as per the report.

"We had served notices to three JJ clusters -- Moti Bagh, Netaji Nagar and Deen Dayal Marg near Minto road in September 2010. We have no information about any other evictions carried out, since we had not given orders for it," said Amar Nath, Chief Executive Officer of DUSIB.

Most of these clusters, however, were cleared before the Slum and JJ Department was transferred to DSUIB by the Delhi government on July 2010.

Residents of Indira Gandhi Camp II, Sewa Nagar were allegedly evicted for construction of an underpass to connect CWG venues -- Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Thyagaraj Stadium.

"We had legal water and electricity supply but were removed without notice or resettlement. How can the government do this to us after giving us residence proof?" questioned Zohra, a resident of the camp.

The area falls under the jurisdiction of MCD but officials said they do not have any information about evictions. "We have no knowledge about any eviction. The engineering department must have carried out the eviction to built the underpass," R K Prashar, Assistant Commissioner, MCD Central Zone, said.