HYDERABAD: Forty houses located in the slums of Ambedkar Nagar on Necklace Road were demolished by GHMC authorities on Monday morning -- at 6 am. The space is being cleared for the new 2BHKs being constructed by the government. But residents are up in arms, after having witnessed the fate of occupants of over 250 houses that were razed eight months ago for the same project.
Seeing them suffer without housing for months, the residents had moved the High Court which issued an interim order stating “the petitioners should not be dispossessed without following due process of law.” The GHMC claimed the government has a “right to redevelop the land according to its rules.”
No promise of alternative accommodation has been made and the residents are now left in a lurch. They have been forced to stay on the roadside. “As I woke up, several policemen dragged me out of my house,” says Mahesh. “They were so harsh with us. Within minutes, our house which was our world was reduced to debris. How is this fair?”
Residents say the GHMC notice came late on Saturday evening. With Sunday being a public holiday, people did not even get enough time to move their belongings. “After having lived here for 60 years, we have been brought to the streets in one stroke,” says local leader Shravan. “We reached out to RDO and Tahsildars, who are the rightful owners of the land, but even they refused to help.”
“Only a handful of slum dwellers are opposed to the 2BHK project,” claims GHMC Assistant City Planner Nageshwar Rao. “We will temporarily accommodate them in marriage halls. But the construction will take over a year and these people will have to look for alternative accommodations until then.”
Most families living in the slum eke a livelihood doing manual labour. Women work as housemaids at posh colonies located in the very same city.
“We saw the plight of the dwellers displaced a few months ago,” says Padma’s husband. “Forget construction of new houses, even foundation stones have not been laid in the past eight months.”
“This is how policymakers and stakeholders across the country play with the lives of the poor,” points out social rights activist Ambrish Mehta. “The High court must have insisted on alternative accommodation before demolition is carried out. The residents can still claim their rights under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. But now that their houses have been razed down, they could easily be labelled as illegal encroachers,” points our Ambrish.
“The 2 BHK scheme comes under Prime Minister Awas Yojana. Under this, the government is bound to provide alternative accommodation until new houses are constructed,” points out Hyderabad-based housing rights activist Sanjeev.