SC ORDERS TO REMOVE SLUMS FROM RAILWAY TRACKS IN DELHI

On 31st august, the Supreme Court ruled that 48,000 jhuggis (shanties) should be evacuated from the railway safe zone in the national capital, Delhi. The order also said that “No interference, political or otherwise, should be there and no court shall grant any stay with respect to the removal of the encroachments,”. This order is said to render lakhs of slum dwellers, including women, children and elderly persons roofless, by social activists. They have already warned the government that it would lead to chaos and great distress. As it is, the pandemic and the strict lockdown have made many people jobless and now this will led to homelessness too, they say. CM Aravind Kejriwal held a meeting with different agencies yesterday to discuss a roadmap for the evacuation and the safety of people, but the meeting dint produce any fruitful results as it turned to an AAP – BJP political fight.

Shivani Chaudhry, executive director of NGO Housing and Land Rights Networks said. “Forcingly chucking out the people is never a solution as it will lead to homelessness, poverty and many more issues. She also added that “This is not the correct time to carry out this eviction due to this global pandemic and the human health rights and snatching or forcing so many people along with their household will result in a grave of Human Rights that could threaten the lives of so many people. So the government must make this sure that adequate living spaces and houses are arranged for them before taking this step.”

The Apex Court on 31st August, 2020 has ordered to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to remove the slums next to 140 kms of railway tracks in Delhi within three months of time. The SDMC and the railways have already been asked to create an action plan to evict illegal encroachment in the city. It has also been ordered to remove all the garbage and the plastic bags which cause pollution and safety hazards when Aam Admi Party claimed that the Railways have filed an affidavit to the top court that the slums are the hurdles to the cleanliness procedure of the railways. The Congress party’s spokesperson, Raghav Chadha said, “The affidavit has exposed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s mentality.” He also added that “Kejriwal is making plans to take against the slum dwellers. It is BJPs plan to make people homeless.

The AAP leader declared if needed his party will approach the SC and also fight the battle against the streets. “Without giving alternative house and rehabilitation, no slum dwellers’ house will be demolished in Delhi,” Chadha said. He also alleged that the BJP has been issuing notices, threatening those living in the slums. However BJPs Delhi unit spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor denied all the allegations and said those are false. Rather Kapoor mentioned “Chadha is trying to mislead the legal procedure.”

When the court heard an application filed in the MC Mehta case that was related to the pollution, when they took this step after the Indian Railways informed the court that despite a Special Task Force constituted to remove encroachments, political interference in between this. An order for removal of the encroachment was passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in October 1, 2018. This verdict was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on Tuesday night in Justice Mishra’s office Wednesday. Going through the affidavit filed by the railways, the apex bench of Justice Gavai and Krishna Murari said, “There is predominant presence of jhuggis along the 140km route length of the railway track in the region of NCT Delhi and almost 70 kms of the area of the railway tracks are being affected by the jhuggis.” Though there is no official estimate of how many people live in such areas but the NGO says that the land owing agency did a survey t find out the number of people and it is found around 48,000 jhuggis with lakhs and lakhs of people living in it.

Hence the Delhi Government, Railways has been asked to remove the plastics from the tracks. In a report dated 9th July, 2020, the Environment Pollution Authority revealed that an Indian railway is a bulk waste generator and they need to work with Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. It will help them to minimise the waste, which the Delhi government and the Indian Railway think is related to the Jhuggis that are along the railway track.

According to NDTV, Congress Leader Ajay Maken said in his plea that the removal order was passed without hearing to the slum people. He also mentioned that, “if slums are removed, more than 2,50,000 people will be homeless and out on the roads.” However various policies of the Indian Government of NCT of Delhi have been kept in mind. Looking forward to all the agendas and the issues that might be faced now due to the pandemic the SC has mentioned the authorities and the railways to continue with the cleaning process and ordered to not entertain any political interference.

AHANA MAITY

KOLKATA

REFERENCES

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sc-orders-removal-of-slums-around-delhi-rail-tracks-stops-courts-from-staying-eviction/story-rG2XRhGFXAs4M4lYH2XPMM.html

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/sc-eviction-slums-jhuggis-railway-safety-zone-railways-delhi-1718074-2020-09-03

https://scroll.in/latest/972863/delhi-congress-moves-sc-against-its-order-to-demolish-slums-along-railway-tracks

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-court-landrights/court-order-to-clear-delhis-railway-slums-will-cause-great-distress-activists-warn-idUSKBN25V1XU

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