Nearly 150 homes were destroyed every day or six homes were destroyed every hour in India in the year 2017, reveals a recent report by the Housing and Land Rights Network India (HLRN). The data reveals that government authorities, at both the Central and State levels, have demolished over 53,700 homes, thereby forcefully evicting more than 2.6 lakh people across urban and rural India, including the homeless.
Incidents of forced evictions have occurred across geographical areas including in large metropolitan cities like Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. The Government of Tamil Nadu alone has evicted over 4,784 families in Chennai between September and December 2017. It targeted the homes of the urban poor and left all commercial establishments along water bodies untouched, states the report.
High Court orders
In Chennai, evictions were executed under the guise of ‘disaster management’ and for ‘restoration of water bodies.’ Following orders from the Madras High Court to take “expeditious steps for early removal of encroachments by construction of alternative tenements,” the State evicted over 4,000 families in a span of four months. Families were removed before and during their children’s examinations as well as during the rainy season. While they were all provided alternative housing in the resettlement sites of Perumbakkam, Gudapakkam, All India Radio site, and Navalur, all located between 20 and 40 kilometres from their original sites of residence, it has greatly threatened their livelihoods and the education of their children.
The report also pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has failed to provide alternative housing to nearly 250 evicted families due to reported delay in ‘paperwork.’
“Evictions are still being carried out, with no concern for the lives of the public and their children,” said R. Geetha, adviser to the Unorganised Workers Federation.
While the figures are only a conservative estimate, the actual number of people evicted/displaced across the country last year is likely to be much higher.
The research indicates that more people were evicted and displaced in 2017 than in 2016. Also the increase in forced evictions has occurred despite the Central government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) or ‘Housing for All–2022’ scheme and increased budgetary allocations for the same.
“It’s a failure on the side of the government to protect the interests of its citizens. Families are only being moved to greater debt and poverty due to these forced evictions,” said Ms. Geetha.