Activists question change of policy for rehabilitation; want cut-off date of March 2007 adhered to strictly

Holding the Delhi Government squarely responsible for following a policy of large-scale displacement of slum dwellers without adequate norms for providing rehabilitation to all of them, activists working for the rights of slum dwellers have demanded that the cut-off date of March 31, 2007, be followed strictly to ensure that no one is discriminated against.

Averring that the goal of making Delhi slum-free by 2014 was behind the mindless displacement of poor slum dwellers, the Delhi Shramik Sangathan (DSS) has called for their proper rehabilitation. It has also demanded that steps be put in place so that lakhs of slum dwellers are not left out of the purview of rehabilitation.

“Delhi Governments wants to make Delhi a slum-free city but not by rehabilitating these exploited wage workers but by driving them out of the city. The settlement of slums has direct link with the livelihood of lakhs of construction and domestic workers, transport workers, vendors and contract workers living in slums,” said a statement issued by the organisation.

DSS secretary general Ramendra Kumar said when the cut-off date for the rehabilitation of slums was March 31, 2007, the Government should demand documents from the slum-dwellers of the period immediately prior to that date instead of as long back as 1998. He said the Delhi Government modified its policy and put a number of conditions under its eligibility criteria for rehabilitation of slum dwellers. Most of the slum dwellers are unable to fulfil these conditions. “This is clearly evident from the recent draw of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) held on May 25 this year for nine slums. The average percentage of eligible families that received demand letters varied between 10 to 15 per cent of the total number of families living in these clusters. So the rest of the families would be rendered homeless.” He said if the March 31, 2007, cut-off was sincerely followed, then about 85 to 90 per cent families would have been rehabilitated.

Mr. Kumar said it is also questionable why the Delhi Government modified its policy in such a way. The answer, he said, is that it has to follow the Centre’s goal of “Slum free India” by 2014.

The Sangathan has demanded that the Delhi Government remove the condition in which the slums situated near the footpath, safety zone of railway, right of way and community areas are not eligible for rehabilitation as most of the slums are situated in such places and would thus be declared non-eligible for rehabilitation.

In its representations submitted to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Minister of Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Urban Development Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, the Sangathan has also called for removal of basis of income of slum dwellers from the policy for the purpose of deciding their eligibility for rehabilitation.

It has also sought rehabilitation/resettlement of slum dwellers to along with ownership rights instead of on licence fee basis and immediate rehabilitation of evicted families of New Sanjay Camp, Okhla as per the order of the Delhi High Court.

More In: Delhi