Delhi

‘Most of my books are buried under the rubble’

Children in school uniforms cried as the DDA demolished 30 jhuggis in Nehru Place on March 5

On March 5, earth-moving machines of the Delhi Development Authority demolished over 30 jhuggis in Nehru Place.

The families who were evicted from the slums are spending sleepless nights trying to figure out where they can go. However, they are even more worried about their children’s education.

‘Missed my exam’

Varsha, who studies in Class VIII, missed her science exam on March 5 due to the demolition drive and is unsure if she will be able to attend her last exam on March 11.

“Most of my books are buried under the rubble, I don’t really know what I will do,” she said.

Her mother, Seema, says she is trying to find a place to rent nearby. “I can move somewhere else and still manage to earn money. But the children cannot travel long distances to attend school,” she said, adding that two of her other children also missed their exams.

Sitting on the footpath in front of what used to be her house, 13-year-old Anjali is flanked by two white sacks.

“One is for the books I can use and the other is to give to the raddiwala (paper recycler)” she said.

“We were in our [school] uniforms when they [the DDA officials] came. I cried a lot. We told them we would move from here but just give us a few days to finish our exams. But they just would not listen, they think we are mad,” she said.

Residents said they had been living there for the past 15 years, with some producing voter ID cards of the area.

Indrashish Chakrobarty, of the Basti Suraksha Manch, a housing rights group that is helping the aggrieved, said that according to their survey there were about 40 children living in the area.

He added that many of the current residents had earlier lived in a larger settlement in the area that had been cleared during the construction of the Metro.

“While some people from that basti were resettled, others who did not have documentation at the time occupied this area,” he said.

DDA Vice-Chairman Tarun Kappor said, “The area is a parking lot and the jhuggis which had cropped up there had to be removed. It is also better for them considering vehicular movement around the area.”

NGO members said that the High Court had issued a stay order on the urban body’s action on March 7.

But with their settlements demolished and land levelled already, the residents are occupying the footpath and the road divider running under the Violet Line of Delhi Metro.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:56:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/most-of-my-books-are-buried-under-the-rubble/article26490014.ece

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