The (VMC), at the end of a long-drawn meeting with stake holders, political heads and officials, decided to relocate the people removed from the Kalyannagar slums in November last year back to Kalyannagar. The decision came a day before the Gujarat High Court is to hear a contempt petition on Thursday, filed by the Kamatipura slum dwellers who have still not been rehabilitated. The VMC announced its decision to relocate the families of
The decision came a day before the Gujarat High Court is to hear a contempt petition on Thursday, filed by the Kamatipura slum dwellers who have still not been rehabilitated. The VMC announced its decision to relocate the families of Kalyannagar and Kamatipura to a new proposed scheme in Kalyannagar, from where 1921 families were displaced in November 2014. Even though Kalyannagar families have welcomed the proposal, they are demanding a written assurance from the VMC, continuing their protest dharna at the premises of the civic body. The families of Kamatipura, however, are firm about their demand to be relocated at Kalali relocation, as per the VMC’s affidavit in the HC.
Much drama surrounded the high-level meeting in the VMC involving Municipal Commissioner H S Patel, Mayor Bharat Shah, three Vadodara BJP MLAs — Yogesh Patel, Rajendra Trivedi and Jitendra Sukhadia — and the Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Shrivastav and other officials of the VMC’s housing and city engineer department. As the leaders awaited the Kalyannagar families to arrive to discuss the resolution, representatives of the families conveyed that all proposals should be put down on paper. About an hour later, the VMC officials, including Mayor Shah and Municipal Commissioner, held a press conference to announce the decision of relocating close to 700 families of Kalyannagar and Kamatipura together in a new proposed scheme in Kalyannagar, under new homes to be built under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). The earlier schemes at Sayajipura and Kalali for rehabilitating these evacuees were under the JNNURM scheme, which are already commissioned and complete. However, with opposition from the local residents, the real estate lobby and certain political sections to the prospect of Muslims moving in to these areas, the VMC did a rethink after conducting a draw for 320 homes a month ago.
Municipal Commissioner H S Patel said that the residents were being “tough” by demanding a written assurance. “We have given an in-principle approval for this decision. Why do they have to sit on dharnas now? We waited for almost one hour for them to arrive for the meeting. We have also accommodated Kamatipura residents jointly and they have agreed to sign the resolution,” Patel said.
Patel added that the new site is “near the area where the slum demolition has been done and it is part of the Kalyannagar area. We have taken a step further, they should also be pro-active about it. We had also offered them Tandalja as per their earlier request, which was turned down by the administration of that time.” He added that the homes would be constructed under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) on the lines of the Tandalja proposal, with a maximum construction period of two years.
Asked about the logic behind shifting the families back to the area from where they were evicted as part of the Slum Free Vadodara drive of the VMC in November, Patel, who took over as the Municipal Commissioner in March this year, said, “The demolition is of a time when I was not here. The policy states clearly that the relocation has to be in-situ. If you deviate from it, you must decide where they would be rehabilitated and all these consequences could have been anticipated from the point of view of social impact and social engineering. Today, social impact and acceptability in the future is essential for the rehabilitation of families.”
Kalyannagar families sat on a dharna at the corporation, demanding written assurance of the Kalyannagar offer. Arif Pathan, president of Kalyannagar Residents’ Rehabilitation Association, said, “The VMC officers kept calling us to sign the resolution giving up our claim on Sayajipura and Kalali while assuring rebuilding homes for us at Kalyannagar. However, we have asked them to put all conditions of the proposal in writing so that there is transparency. We cannot understand why they are unwilling to do so, after cheating us thrice about relocation in Kalali, Sayajipura and Tandalja.”
Retired Professor J S Bandukwala, who has been leading their cause, said, “There have been many promises made earlier and so it is difficult to just accept a verbal proposal made by the civic body. I have conveyed to them that until they give us details of the proposal in writing, including the exact location of the proposed colony in the making, we will be unable to decide.”
“The VMC must not impose its decision on us. Their proposal means an additional expenditure of Rs 50 crore or more towards the construction of about 1,000 flats as well as rental allowances, while so many ready flats lie vacant. We need to know if the rental allowances will come regularly,” Bandukwala said. About 172 residents of Kamatipura, who are in a litigation with the VMC over their rehabilitation in Kalali, have refused the offer to move to Kalyannagar. Patel said the VMC has announced a “joint rehabilitation” for both displaced schemes. The VMC will now submit its reply to the Gujarat HC in the contempt of court hearing on Thursday.