Under the shadow of a possible demolition and to claim their compensation in the eventuality, one of most vulnerable communities in the city is engaged in an effort to prove where they live and for how long.
Bela Estate on the Yamuna floodplains — where several farmers live in bastis and cultivate the floodplains — falls under the first phase of the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA’s) Yamuna Riverfront Development project, stretching from Lohe-ka-Pul to the ITO barrage.
The project aims to beautify the riverfront and promote riverside tourism with a green buffer zone, recreational parks, walkways and cycle tracks.
For this purpose, a demolition drive had been initiated in May 2018 and had continued for three days until a stay was obtained in the Delhi High Court against it.
As this case continues in court, volunteers of Bandhua Mukti Morcha are conducting a survey to compile proof of addresses from residents to supplement the case and apply for rehabilitation.
Since December 23, a little desk has been set up by the open fields at Bela Estate, where young volunteers and pradhans of bastis have been assisting residents to fill out forms — with details such as the year in which their oldest document of address proof had been issued, whether their jhuggi was ever demolished, whether they were found eligible for rehabilitation in the last government survey, among other things.
These forms are being attached with photocopies of their address proof documents. A photographer has also been hired to go to the homes of all of those who have submitted their forms and take photographs of the residents outside their homes.
“We received 98 forms from Kanchanpuri, 80 from Bela Estate, 120 from Moolchand Colony part 1, and more than 250 so far from Moolchand Colony part 2. The aim of the survey is to collect all information and documentation which will be required for them to oppose demolition and claim rehabilitation. The photographs are being taken so that even in case there is a demolition, they will be available to show that their homes stood here,” said Rinku Arya, a volunteer.
Among those lined up to submit their forms was Hari Lal, whose home had been demolished in 2004, prior to the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village.
“At that time, a survey had been carried out to rehabilitate people elsewhere, and since I have been living here for 35 years, I was found eligible and paid Rs 6,000 for rehabilitation. But it never got verified and I did not get allotted the rehabilitation land in Bawana. I have been living here on rent after the demolition,” he said.
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