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Razed slum in Delhi leaves hundreds homeless

Thursday, September 23, 2010 07:03:24 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Most of 470 families living a slum near the capital's diplomatic enclave for over 25 years were rendered homeless as their dwellings were demolished ahead of the Oct 3-14 Games.

Less than 100 of the affected families have been rehabiliated to flats in outer Delhi and have no water or electricity yet in their new homes.

Residents of the Netaji Nagar slum, near Chanakyapuri, were thrown out of their homes Sep 17. Beautification was cited as a reason for the removal of the slum, just a few metres from an upcoming five-star hotel and close to several Games venues and a major road with a designated Games lane.

The angry slum dwellers claim that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the slum owing to the pressure from the newly-built 260-room Leela Palace Kempinski, scheduled to open Oct 1, two days ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Despite repeated attempts, officials of both the DDA and the five-star hotel never responded to IANS on the issue.

Meanwhile, the families, who are yet to get alternative accommodation, are scattered at various places in the city but most of them are staying on the roadside with their possessions.

Mohammed Shahwaz, who had a grocery shop in the slum, alleged that his shop was razed even before he could shift all his belongings from it.

"The demolition notice was given on Sep 12, asking us to vacate by Sep 17 morning. We were not prepared because in 25 years, we have been threatened with demolition many times, but nothing happened," said Shahwaz, who is now sheltering in a local mosque with 30 others.

Another displaced slum dweller, Mustaq Ahmed, who had moved to Delhi from Bihar 18 years ago, asked why only a few residents have been given alternative accommodation.

"Though the remaining families have the necessary documents, they have not been given flats. They have given flats to only a few of them, while many are left in lurch," Ahmed added.

A total of 67 families have been shifted to Bawana Sector 3 in outer Delhi and some of them told IANS they had no clue on what basis they had been selected. Despite the lack of facilities, they were happy at having some sort of shelter.

"Although the flat is not cemented, we are happy that we have at least got a shelter. There is mo problem though it is 3 km away from the main road from where we can catch buses," said Shamshad, one of the rehabiliated slum-dwellers.

No electricity connection or water facility has been provided so far, he said.

The flats, built by Delhi State Industrial Development Coporation under the Rajiv Awas Yojana, have been given to these 67 families under the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Programme (DUSIP).

The occupants of the flats can only stay there and cannot own the flats or rent them out. If they violate the rules, they face at least six months jail and fine of Rs.10,000.

According to the sources at DUSIP, it was a priority to remove slum clusters close to CWG project sites and 46 such sites were identified. However, they declined to divulge details on how many sites have been cleared.

They said a survey was conducted five months ago and the list of eligible people for flats was prepared, with the requirement being possession of ration and voter identity cards. Each family member had to figure on both the lists from 2002 at least.





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