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Fear of ensuing displacement reverberated through the lanes of Kathputli Colony once again on Monday when the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) began demolishing the DMRC wall, located only a few feet away from the jhuggis. However, after residents objected, DDA officials stopped the demolition and told them “nothing would be done without their consent”.
WATCH | Kathputli Colony Being Demolished
The demolition had started near Bihari Basti area of the slum on Monday morning. Shouting slogans of ‘Kejriwal ko bula ke lao’, slum-dwellers claimed no authority was paying attention to their plight. Defending their action, a DDA official told residents, “Nothing will be done without your permission. This was being done because some people said they needed a way to move their belongings out.”
But Amit Bhatt, a resident, alleged: “There are four exits to the slum and they want us to believe that this demolition was just to create a way out? It was being done so that the demolition of the jhuggi next door could be carried out swiftly during the night.”
In an appeal to the Prime Minister, Dilip Singh Bhatt, pradhan of the village, said, “The PM says his government is pro-poor. We have been living here for over 50 years; we shouldn’t be displaced. We are in shock”. He added that the residents were “more than happy” to move to the transit camp on the condition that the DDA gives them a court-approved contract and assured housing for all.
Home to musicians, puppeteers and magicians, Kathputli Colony is the first slum taken up for in-situ redevelopment by a private firm.