The Supreme Courts decision to put a stay on the demolition drive by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has come as a breather for nearly 13 slum pockets,which is home to over 10,000 families in the city.
With the state government aiming to make the city slum-free by 2012,the move may render nearly four lakh families homeless.
Bina Jadhav,an activist from Action Aid,which has been working for the urban poor since 2002,said: We had been running to the
Gujarat High Court from several years to bring some concrete decision for this problem. But every time the court has ruled in favour of the government. This was the much-needed decision. The slum dwellers have been facing a huge trauma as the infrastructure projects are increasing in the city,she added.
With the growing pace of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project,the threat of losing house was looming large over the dwellers in the Ram-Rahim tekra near the riverbed. Other areas like Shahpur,Santosh Nagar,Jamalpur,Lal Darwaja,and the ones behind Tagore Hall and
Ellisbridge were also facing demolition threat.
S H Iyyer,advocate and member of the Jan Sangarsh Manch,said: This judgment has given some respite to the poor families. After receiving a sudden call from residents in Odhav about the police arrangement for demolition on Friday,there was no news of any demolition.
According to him,families in Odhav,Asarwa,Ranip,Behrampura,Salatnagar and two clusters of Vadaj were facing serious threat. After cases of demolition and no proper rehabilitation,activists were tired of running to the high court that had lifted an earlier stay, he added.
The AMC had earlier got the decision on their side by saying that if they went by the new cut-off date of 1995,they would have to provide homes to 3,75,726 people and claimed to have no resources for the same. The high court had dismissed the demand of a new cut-off.
Jadhav said: They are removing one slum and shifting another to the same land. This is leading to a chaotic rehabilitation. If they want to stick to the 1976 cut-off then at least they can rehabilitate people from Gulbai Tekra and Santosh Nagar,who are staying there for nearly 120 years and 35 years respectively.
Iyyer criticised the government housing polices and its claims of a developing Gujarat. On one hand,the Gujarat government claims to have several housing chemes. Even the Chief Minister has his own schemes like Sardar Awas Yojana. Even JNNURM has no clear picture of rehabilitation. What kind of development Modi is talking about? All these exist only on paper.
The final hearing in the case is scheduled for February 2 when Iyyer plans to raise questions pertaining to the cut-off date,rehabilitation sites,eviction without notices,and poor housing scheme among others.