Despite a High Court decision that every displaced slum dweller is entitled to relocation and rehabilitation subject to conditions, about 1,000 residents of J Prabhu Market and Prabhu Market Extension near Lodhi Colony are awaiting a site since last year.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had removed the settlement last year for a parking lot that is to come up along the Kushak nullah near the Seva Nagar Railway crossing for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games. The slum residents refused to leave after filing a writ petition in the High Court.
There are around 180 houses in the area occupied mostly by vegetable vendors, fruit sellers, grocers and roadside tailors, among others. All of them have voter ID cards, ration cards and electric connections and a few of them even had MTNL landlines.
“We had submitted a list with all relevant documents to MCD’s Slum & JJ Department in February this year. We followed it up with RTI queries where they told us we were in the right of way and hence cannot be relocated,” said Sri Ram, a fruit seller.
Dinesh Kumar, a tailor who is out-of-work due to displacement said, “The High Court in said a recent decision that everyone is entitled to a site, but to no avail. We have now filed a contempt notice.”
MCD’s Director Slum & JJ, Kundal Lal said, “We had removed these people because their ration cards could not be verified. Delhi Food and Supplies Department told us that they have no records prior to the 1998 cut-off date.”
The MCD is now working according to the modified policy guideline for relocation and rehabilitation of JJ clusters approved by the Delhi government on February 19. “We are just the implementers. The policy decision rests with the state government,” Lal said.