No plots yet for many displaced by Games, Metro

By Nakshab Khan, IANS,

New Delhi : They were promised land in resettlement colonies before they were displaced from their slum clusters in various parts of the Indian capital in 2004 to make way for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Metro rail projects.

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But it has been six long years and a decent roof over their heads that they could call home still evades hundreds of families. Many of them are living in makeshift shelters in the resettlement colonies, with little access to sanitation and healthcare.

According to data compiled by an NGO Hazard Centre, at least 35,000 families were displaced from Yumuna Pushta, Banuwal Nagar in Saraswati Vihar, Pragati Market, J Block in Ashok Vihar and Kela Godam in Shalimar Bagh.

Currently, 16,500 families are residing in the Bawana Resettlement Colony in outer Delhi launched six years ago, reveals the data by the NGO.

“Of the 16,500 families, at least 3,000 families haven’t got the land and are being forced to live under plastic sheet-covered houses in inhuman conditions in the Bawana colony,” Duno Roy, director of Hazards Centre that takes up issues related to factory workers, told IANS.

“At least 2,500 plots are still lying vacant with the DDA in the Bawana resettlement colony but the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is stonewalling the land allotment procedure,” Roy alleges.

Many families living in the hutments allege the area has become a breeding ground for serious diseases due to poor sanitation facilities, with no access to clean drinking water and healthcare.

“In the last five years, some 150 slum clusters were demolished in Delhi, housing approximately 100,000 families,” says Raghuraj Singh of Sajha Manch, an NGO working for displaced people.

At the spots from where the families were displaced, the government proposed hotels, commercial, residential spaces and parks – mostly connected to the Commonwealth Games.

In Banuwal Nagar and Ashok Nagar, a four-star hotel and a park were proposed while a residential complex was to be built in Mandawali in east Delhi.

Urmila, who was displaced in 2006 from Savan Park in Ashok Vihar, says the DDA has told her there is no land left that may be given to her.

“DDA had given us the land slip in 2006 before demolishing our slum, but now instead of providing us the plot, they are giving excuses,” says Urmila who is now living in the resettlement colony.

Taj Mohammed, who was displaced from Kela Godam in Shalimar Bagh in 2005, told IANS: “I was issued a demand letter by the DDA for land allotment in July 2005 after submitting a demand draft of Rs.5,000, but still I am nowhere near getting the promised land in Bawana.”

Of the 3,000 homeless families in Bawana, 750 have got “demand letters” from the DDA – promising the plots – but are yet to get the land.

Neemo Dhar, a DDA spokesperson, told IANS the agency has nothing to do with the 750 demand letters issued to those evicted and it is the duty of the Delhi State Industrial And Infrastructure Development Corporation and the Delhi government to give them land.

But Roy argues that Bawana resettlement was the responsibility of the DDA and both the Delhi government and the DDA were passing the buck at the cost of families in distress.

“In a meeting with Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna Oct 1 last year, it was decided that the DDA engineer would discuss the possibility of a community centre and a school in Bawana with the chief engineer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), but there is no progress on that front,” alleges Roy.

Mohammed Usama, a member of the Hazards Centre, says: “Residents of Bawana take out protest marches in front of DDA’s office in Pitampura every now and then – only to be told that their problem will be solved soon.”

(Nakshab Khan can be contacted at [email protected])