NEW DELHI: There were at least 22 cases of evictions and demolitions across India amid the COVID-19 pandemic, between March to June 16, according to a compilation by advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN). This comes at a time when people are facing acute health crisis.
According to estimates by HLRN, the eviction incidents have affected over 13,500 people, resulting in massive violation of multiple human rights.
The reasons for these evictions include beautification projects, village land clearance, railway land clearance, road construction and widening, forest clearance, removal of ‘encroachments’, removal of ‘illegal constructions’, Dal lake ‘restoration project’ and smart city projects.
The UN estimates say approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide are either homeless or live under dire housing conditions.
India alone has more than 1.7 million homeless residents, of which 938,384 are in urban areas.
The places with maximum eviction incidents include:
Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh
Coimbatore and Erode in Tamil Nadu
Siwal in Madhya Pradesh
Kalahandi in Odisha
Macheng village in Manipur
In most of the cases, due process, including the provision of advance notice and alternative housing, was not followed, in violation of international human rights standards, including the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, the HLRN said in a statement.
With a significant number of those evicted being rendered homeless, they face the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, it said.
The Centre and states should develop solutions to provide adequate housing, and provide compensation for loss of housing and personal belongings, and support evicted families to rebuild their homes at the same site or provide adequate alternative housing nearby within a vicinity of two kilometres, it recommended.
The advocacy group also called for a moratorium on rental evictions of people who are unable to pay rent due to loss of livelihoods amid the lockdown.