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Friday, June 25, 2021

Homes set to be razed, locals in Faridabad’s Khori ask: ‘Where do we go from here?’

Action comes after the Supreme Court directed Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments” in Aravalli forest region 

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | Faridabad |
Updated: June 12, 2021 8:45:57 am
The residents of a house demolished in Khori village in the Surajkund area of Faridabad. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

For hundreds of daily wage labourers living in Faridabad’s Khori area, the future looks grim as their homes face demolition following a Supreme Court order. The case for razing down the 10,000 houses, situated in the Surajkund portion of the Aravallis, has been pending for several years. Some establishments have already been brought down through administrative action last month.

On Monday, the Supreme Court directed the Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments” in the Aravalli forest region in the Lakkadpur-Khori village area, and had emphasised that “land grabbers cannot take refuge of rule of law” and talk of “fairness”. A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheswari gave the corporation and Haryana six weeks to remove the encroachments and submit a compliance report, and also asked police to extend support.

Ahead of the demolition on Friday morning, Haryana Police and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in huge numbers outside the village. Following a conversation between locals and the administration, however, it was decided to delay the action by a few days.

Locals, however, said their displacement is inevitable and they have nowhere else to go.

Located nearly 200 metres from sprawling five-star hotels, the small stone houses are situated on a portion of the low-lying Aravalli hills. There is no road except a cobbled inclined path leading to the colony. The locals, mostly daily wage workers, say they have been staying in the area for decades.

“The administration told us they will come tomorrow. Where do we go from here? Covid has killed opportunities for us to earn. The only thing we had was our house. They are concerned that this is an environmental area. But so many buildings around us continue to function and they have no issue with that. The government has failed us,” said Sarin, a resident.

The Lakkadpur-Khori area had been a settling region for miners before the activity was banned following environmental concerns nearly a decade ago. Locals claimed they have Aadhaar cards and residence proof.

Another path through the village leads to an even higher portion from where the city skyline is visible. On the floor of a house with no walls and a small sheet for the roof, a girl was seen combing her mother’s hair. In another demolished house, a local was lying down on a khat, fanning himself.

According to locals, some houses were brought down when a round of demolition took place in April this year. Since most people did not have money to shift anywhere, they continued to reside in the broken structures.

“The PM kept telling us we should stay indoors to be safe from the virus. But there is no ‘indoors’ for us. Our house is just a collection of stones in which we continue to live. We put plastic sheets to protect ourselves from the sun and rain. This is what it has come down to,” said another resident.

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