The wait might soon be over for 481 families displaced from their Kalyannagar homes during the demolition drive of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) in November last year. Acting under pressure, the civic body took a decision Wednesday to complete the Sayajipura JNNURM housing draw by Friday after it was “suspended”, following protests from local residents to the prospect of having Muslim neighbours. Majority of the families evicted due to these demolitions were Muslims.
On Wednesday, in a meeting with representatives of the families awaiting rehabilitation from the Kalyannagar demolitions, Municipal Commissioner H S Patel assured that the 481 families would be allotted homes in Sayajipura. Patel instructed officers of the JNNURM housing department to begin the process of conducting the draw. If all goes according to plan, the draw will be conducted on Friday, officials said. The VMC received much flak for delaying rehabilitation of the Muslim families at the alleged behest of Mayor Bharat Shah, who cowered under petitions from local residents. On April 3, The Indian Express had reported that Muslim families displaced during the November demolitions had been left in a lurch as the VMC had suspended the allotment of their homes due to pressure from religious groups and local residents.
According to VMC officials, the ruling BJP decided against kicking up a storm over the issue and go ahead with the draw. In a meeting held in Gandhinagar on Tuesday, top leaders of the party, including guardian Minister for Vadodara, Vijay Rupani, are learnt to have asked the civic body to “immediately” conduct the draw. The meeting was attended by Mayor Shah, Standing Committee Chairman Dr Hitendra Patel, MP Ranjan Bhatt, city MLAs, VMC Commissioner and other officials. A party leader said, “The impression that the party is stalling the rehabilitation of Muslim families has come across as damaging. The party high command in Delhi is unhappy about the delay in rehabilitating the families and has instructed that the issue should be resolved without delay. The state leaders have conveyed the message in no uncertain terms to the civic body.”
Representatives of the families expressed satisfaction at the solution offered by the VMC to end the stalemate.