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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

‘Notices were to present ownership documents,’ says AMC Commissioner on ‘eviction’ of slum-dwellers

In a statement to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra said, “There are no plans to evict any slum-dwellers near the event venue or the route which the dignitaries will take.”

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad | Published: February 19, 2020 12:12:41 am
Slum dwellers with AMC notices on Monday. (File photo)

A day after issuing notices asking slum-dwellers to vacate a piece of land near Motera stadium that will host the “Namaste Trump” event, Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra on Tuesday said the notices issued were not “eviction notices” but were meant to provide an opportunity to the slum-dwellers to present “documents related to ownership”.

He claimed the slum-dwellers will be provided with alternative homes in due course of time. In a statement to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Nehra said, “There are no plans to evict any slum-dwellers near the event venue or the route which the dignitaries will take.”

“These are not eviction notices. They are notices for furnishing proof and giving an opportunity of being heard as per the natural justice… It is an opportunity for them for presenting documents related to ownership,” said Nehra while reacting to The Indian Express story published on Tuesday where the slum-dwellers claimed that they were being evicted because of the “Namaste Trump” event being hosted at the Motera stadium on February 24.

According to Nehra, “Whenever any fresh encroachments are noticed, it (the estate department of the AMC) issues notice to the occupants to furnish proof of ownership and conducts a hearing.” Reiterating that the notices were for hearing out the dwellers, Nehra said in the statement, “Normally it takes months after such notices are issued that any evictions actually happen. They pertain to slum not in the immediate vicinity of the event venue. There are no plans for any forceful evictions in the near future”. Nehra added that this was the first such notice issued to this particular slum, which was “a few years old”.

When pointed out that the settlers near the Motera stadium road were mostly illiterate unorganised construction workers and may not have any documents to prove their ownership of the “encroached land”, Nehra said, “We realised it and so we appoint NGOs to do a survey, after which we will help them collect the documents and will provide alternative houses to them. We remove people only after providing alternative houses to them. In the Sabarmati riverfront, we had given 10,000 houses which was the biggest rehabilitation. We are building one lakh houses in the affordable housing sector and we are carrying out multiple slum rehabilitation schemes… we are sensitive to the fact that poor people need to be given houses. That does not permit anyone to go and occupy any public land.”

The notices dated February 11, 2020 served to the slum-dwellers on Monday, bearing the signature of assistant Town Development Officer (Motera ward) Kishore Varna, state, “As per departmental procedure, the encroachments have to be removed. You have been directed to remove your household belongings and vacate the land belonging to the AMC within seven days. Otherwise, after the passage of the said period, the encroachments will be removed through departmental procedures. If you wish to represent your case, then you need to remain present in the concerned office at 3 pm on February 19, 2020.”

Nehra also said that the slum was “nowhere near the stadium or close to the route that VVIPs will take while visiting the stadium”. When pointed out that the slum was just 1.5 kilometres away from the Motera stadium on the road that connects the Visat-Gandhinagar highway (a major route for visitors coming from Ahmedabad airport and Gandhinagar for the event)”, Nehra said, “…There are a lot of slums on the stadium road and there is no reason to choose this particular slum.”

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