A new easy-to-read manual outlines policies, court orders and useful information on housing rights for the urban poor

One of the biggest causes of disruption and distress among urban poor households is the traumatic experience of sudden eviction from their homes. Contrary to officially declared policies, the actual experience is that the majority of people do not get the benefit of proper resettlement or rehabilitation.

While there have been some serious studies of the distress caused by eviction, what has been missing is a publication or manual on how to reduce the possibilities of this distress. This gap has been filled in a very useful way by a new publication brought out by the Hazards Centre based in Delhi. Although this easy-to-read-and-understand Hindi publication has been brought out in the specific context of Delhi, there is much in this book which can also be useful for urban poor in other parts of the country.

For example, what this book says about the significance of surveys conducted by organisations or local committees of the urban poor is relevant to all parts of India. As official surveys often leave out many households from the category of those who deserve resettlement, such surveys by committees of local people can be very useful in ensuring resettlement rights to a larger number of deserving people.

A special feature of this book is its ready-to-use style so that it can be very useful for even semi-literate people. For example, when speaking about the applications that need to be written for various purposes, a format is provided to help urban poor families, or social activists working among them.

This simplicity of style is however not at the cost of sacrificing essential information. In fact, the manual provides essential information on existing policies as well as court orders on this issue. Urban marginalised families, threatened by eviction, can benefit much from this information, as also the various precautions and essential steps suggested in this manual.

It also emphasises the need for united action and how people need to get together to protect their housing rights, the various processes necessary for their unity to emerge. Essential data and information which will help people to protect their housing rights is also provided. The importance of constructive use of right to information is mentioned time and again. Some essential addresses and phone numbers, e-mail ids, etc. are also provided.

The writing-style, printing and lay-out have been designed carefully to ensure that the manual can be used easily. The Hazards Centre can be contacted at hazardscentre@gmail.com

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