NEW DELHI: Residents of jhuggies in the city held are planning to stage a protest outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence against the Supreme Court’s recent order to remove 48,000 slum clusters located along railway tracks in the national capital.
Panicked and anguished over the demolition order, residents asked where they are supposed to go now. The Sunday Standard on Saturday visited slum areas on the railways land in Anand Parbat, Naraina Vihar, Jal Vihar and Nizamuddin to interact with residents who said they will not vacate unless given alternative.
“First, give us an alternative house to stay and then, demolish this house, or we will take our lives on these railway tracks,” said Anandi, a slum-dweller of Madarasi Colony situated across the railways lines of Jal Vihar in Lajpat Nagar.
Anandi, who lives with her husband and two children in the slum, added: “I born and brought up here. Even we don’t want to live in this area surrounded by garbage but where are we supposed to go during this pandemic. If the government assures and give us an alternative land, we are ready to move out.” Seema, another Lajpat Nagar slum dweller, said: “During the Congress government, too, slums were demolished in the city, and people were shifted to Jangpura, then to Trilokpuri.
The government had assured us they would provide us with food, shelter and other amenities, but nothing happened. In the next three months, there will be winter. here Where will we go with small children?.”
Seema works as a housemaid and her husband is a cab driver. The apex court has also barred other courts from passing a stay order on the demolition of the slums. The AAP government, however, has said it will file a review petition in the matter.
The Delhi government has also asked the railways not to demolish slums without providing alternative accommodation to the inhabitants in accordance with provisions of the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy.
“The court should at least think of the pandemic. Many have died due to the Covid-19. These slums have protected us the deadly virus, so far,” said Indrani, who lives in a slum along the railway line of Nizamuddin. The 45-year-old housemaid in the locality is the sole earner of her family of five — three children, an octogenarian mother-in-law. With no earnings during the lockdown, Amudha had to sell her earrings and even ‘mangalsutra’ for survival.
Large number of migrants from Tamil Nadu
Slum clusters situated on the railways land in Nizamuddin accommodate a large number of migrants are from Tamil Nadu. They have been living here for more than four decades. According to the slum dwellers of Nizamuddin, Madrasi Colony and Shakur Basti and Naraina Vihar, more 1.5 lakh migrants from Tamil Nadu live in these clusters. According to the government, of 140 km-long railway track, 70 km of these tracks are occupied by 37 number of large jhuggi clusters. In total, there 48,000 JJ clusters situated along railways lines in the city.