Nearly 50 families under the banner of the Bawana Sangharsh Samiti have begun occupying vacant Delhi Development Authority plots in Bawana to protest against the failure of the Authority to allot plots promised to them when their slums in Yamuna Pushta and other areas were demolished in the run up to the Commonwealth Games.

The protesters, who are sitting on dharna at Bawana, claimed that more families would join in and occupy more plots in the days to come if the DDA did not process their applications for allotment of plots. The protesters said they had been issued demand letters for the plots and paid the DDA Rs.7,000 six years ago but were yet to be allotted any plot.

Various investigating agencies have been probing irregularities in the allotment and the protesters allege that in the name of investigations they have been denied plots all these years.

The resettlement policy of DDA provides that all those possessing the requisite papers proving residence before 1998 are ‘eligible’ for allotment of plots. These papers include the ration card and voter card and any other reliable evidence acceptable to ‘competent authority’.

Bawana Sangharsh Samiti’s Umesh Singh said the protest would continue indefinitely and would be intensified unless the DDA starts the allotment of plots immediately. He also castigated local police for harassing the residents.

“Many of us who came here from Yamuna Pushta lost all our belongings in last month’s fire at Bawana. We held several protests outside Vikas Sadan, Vikas Minar and the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence but our demands were not addressed. We have been forced to take this step of occupying vacant plots as a last resort,” Mr. Singh said.

The protesters alleged that there were over 2,500 plots that remained vacant in Bawana which were intended to be diverted to property dealers by corrupt officials.

“While this ‘occupation’ of plots may be considered to be illegal and, therefore, DDA officials will try to regain possession with the aid of the police, this action must be seen in the context of the systematic and continuing denials of the human right to shelter of the forcibly-evicted families,” the Hazards Centre, which has been working along with the BSS on this issue, said in a statement.

A DDA official said the agency was processing the applications for allotment of plots and is currently conducting re-verification of genuineness of the applications as instances of the applicants allegedly transferring their eligibility for monetary considerations was brought to the agency’s notice. “We are trying to speed up the verification. The DDA is ascertaining if vacant plots are being actually occupied by the protesters. If plots are being unauthorisedly occupied, the DDA will take action as per law,” the official said.

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