Masihuzzama Ansari | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Removal of over 300 jhuggies (huts) at a slum in the floodplains of the river Yamuna, behind the Batla House Dhobi Ghat in South Delhi, has left hundreds of poor people, mostly daily wagers and domestic helps, without a roof over their heads. The jhuggis were removed by the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) anti-encroachment wing on Thursday. DDA comes under the Central government.
The victims, who are mostly from Bihar, Eastern UP and some from West Bengal, told India Tomorrow that they were not given any advance notice and the action was taken all of a sudden. The result was that the hutment dwellers could not remove their belongings and whatever they had earned and possessed, was reduced to ruins within a matter of minutes. Many of them were also having refrigerators and TV sets.
According to the jhuggi dwellers, most of them were living there since 2006. And all huts were numbered on the basis of which they were also issued Aadhar cards and some had also got LPG connections.
While the DDA officials told mediapersons that the jhuggi dwellers were informed in advance that they had encroached upon the government land and they should vacate it. The DDA had also put up a warning board that no one should encroach upon the land that belongs to DDA and encroachments would be removed. Despite this, these people put up jhuggis and continued to encroach upon the government land. However, the jhuggi dwellers said that the DDA notice was put up there only two days ago and no prior notice was served to them.
DDA also demolished the public toilet that was used by the jhuggi dwellers. Water supply to the area has also been disconnected, creating further problems for the slum dwellers.
Several hutment dwellers sustained injuries when they attempted to remove their belongings when the bulldozers began demolishing jhuggis. Many of the residents alleged that they also lost cash which they had hidden in their hutments as they don’t have bank accounts.
Police accompanying the demolition staff of the DDA picked up a few people who tried to resist. They were kept at the Jamia Nagar Police Station for the whole day and freed in the evening after recording their names, names of their family members, mobile phone numbers etc.
One of them Anwari from Araria in Bihar said, “When we protested the demolition of our jhuggis, women police constables caught hold of me and pushed me in a waiting jeep and took me to police station. When I was released in the evening, there was nothing left at the place where my jhuggi once stood”. Anwari works as a domestic help in a house in nearby Batla House area.
Iqrar Hussain of Muradabad sustained serious injuries in one of his hands and also legs. He said, “I entered to remove household goods from my house when bulldozers began demolishing it. The demolition staff did not even wait for me to come out. In the process, I sustained serious injuries in one of my legs and hand”.
Iqrar works as a daily wager and claims that he lived in the jhuggi in the low-lying area of the river Yamuna for the last 25 years. “Now I can’t work with injuries in my leg and hand”, he says.
Mohammed Aslam of Forbesganj in Bihar said, “We work as labourers. We had set up our house with great difficulty, by working day and night. But we lost everything in one action of the administration. Had we been allowed a little time, we would have removed important goods from our houses”.
No local politician has reached them so far nor extended any assistance. The victims are being helped by the residents of Batla House and nearby areas.
A DDA spokesman told mediapersons that the issue of encroachment in floodplains of the river Yamuna was brought to the notice of DDA vice-chairman Anurag Jain and it was then decided to remove all the encroachments in Yamuna floodplains as per guidelines of the DDA and National Green Tribunal(NGT).