AAP hits out at slums eviction notice as Kejriwal looks for options
The Supreme Court, on August 31, ordered the removal of 48,000 slum dwellings situated along Delhi’s railway tracks within three months. To ensure compliance of its order, the top court stopped any other court from passing a stay order on their removal.Updated: Sep 11, 2020 08:20 IST
New Delhi: Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday met officials to discuss the possible rehabilitation of slum-dwellers living along Delhi’s railway tracks, even as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Raghav Chadha dramatically tore eviction notices sent to them, and said no one will be displaced “till Kejriwal is alive”.
The Supreme Court, on August 31, ordered the removal of 48,000 slum dwellings situated along Delhi’s railway tracks within three months. To ensure compliance of its order, the top court stopped any other court from passing a stay order on their removal.
HT was the first to report this story on September 3.
Kejriwal called a meeting on Thursday to discuss the court’s order and explore possible ways to rehabilitate the displaced people, a senior official in the chief minister’s office said.
“He had a discussion with the public works department (PWD) and the Delhi urban shelter improvement board (DUSIB). While DUSIB suggested its vacant flats for economically weaker sections could be used, the PWD expressed concern over the scale of the potential project as it involves more than 48,000 families,” the official said.
At the same time, the ruling AAP is also exploring legal options to stall the eviction of the slum-dwellers.
Chadha, the party’s national spokesperson and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairperson, said the government was committed to protecting the people who live in these dwellings.
“The chief minister is making a policy to ensure security to every slum dweller. I want to tell the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) that they should immediately stop such illegal acts,” he said, brandishing eviction notices sent to several people living in these houses by Indian Railways.
The issue has turned into a political slugfest with AAP blaming the BJP-led Central government for serving eviction notices.
“The BJP is issuing notices across the national Capital, threatening the slum dwellers that their houses will be demolished within this month. These notices are against the basic principles of the Constitution, which allows every citizen to have a life with dignity. I urge the BJP not to harass these slum dwellers,” he said.
He tore a few of the notices and said that “no slum dweller in Delhi will be displaced, till Kejriwal is alive”.
The BJP responded saying AAP should “cut the drama” and start allotting its vacant flats to these slum dwellers.
Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, senior BJP member and leader of opposition in the Delhi Assembly, said the Kejriwal government failed to provide houses to any slum dweller despite being in power for six years and announcing the ‘Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana’ amid much fanfare.
“Even after taking Rs 11.25 crore from the railways for rehabilitation of slums, the Delhi government did not work and now their ministers are doing drama of tearing notice and accusing the BJP. The people of Delhi know that the slum dwellers are being given houses under the Modi government’s ‘Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makan’ (in-situ rehabilitation) scheme. But the AAP government did not allow the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to be implemented in Delhi and instead announced the Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana on the same lines and cheated the slum dwellers,” Bidhuri said.
Chadha said he would respond to the BJP’s allegations with proof on Friday in another press conference.
The Supreme Court, which was hearing an application filed in the MC Mehta case relating to Delhi pollution matters, gave it verdict after the Indian Railways informed the court that despite a Special Task Force constituted to remove encroachments, political interference was coming in the way of getting the jhuggis removed. An order for removal of all encroachments passed by the NGT on October 1, 2018 had led to the formation of the task force.
The top court’s extraordinary order was passed in exercise of its power under Article 142, which says, “the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.”
There are no official estimate as to how many people live in such slums. NGOs say that the land owning agency, the Railways in this case, will have to do a survey to ascertain the number of dwellers.
Officials from the Railways ministry and Northern Railways refused to comment on the issue.