The Supreme Court judgment passed last week ordering the removal of close to 48,000 jhuggis along the 140 km length of the railway tracks in Delhi has once again brought the focus back on illegal slums in the national capital.
The slum dwellers are faced with the terrifying prospect of losing the roof over their heads in the middle of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that is showing no signs of abating.
Residents of Pul Mithai are at a loss over where to relocate. Many of them have been living in the area for over 30-40 years, with some having spent all their lives next to the railway tracks. They have termed the circumstances tanashahi.
On11th September,, Congress leader Ajay Maken filed a petition in the top court against the order, emphasising that close to 2.4 lakh people will be rendered homeless. Maken also pointed out the affected slum dwellers or their representatives weren’t a party to the case.
For 35-year-old Surami Devi, this is a repeat of events. The family of 10 had moved to the Sarai Rohilla slum area along the railway tracks six years ago when their home in a South Delhi slum was demolished.
Despite the government’s assertions, the lack of any concrete plan about resettling slum dwellers has offered little comfort to them.
In 2019, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had launched the Mukhyamantri Aawas Yojana, which has a similar in situ rehabilitation policy for slum dwellers under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). This was done by renaming the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015, which was approved by the state government in 2016. Under this policy, jhuggis that have come up before 1 January 2006, cannot be demolished before residents are rehabilitated.
The policy is actually the renamed Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015, which was approved by the state government and notified on 11 December 2017.
(With Inputs from The Hindu, Indian Express and The Print)