Ordinance shield for slums vote-bank politics: Cong
The ordinance provides that no eviction notice could be issued for three years to over 7.7 lakh slum dwellers. A special policy will be put in place in the next three years to resettle slum dwellers, or regularise slumsUpdated: Jul 26, 2018 22:45 IST
The Uttarakhand cabinet passed an ordinance on Wednesday to save over 580 slums from demolition, but the Congress termed the move vote-bank politics. The ordinance was approved by Governor KK Paul on Thursday evening.
The ordinance provides that no eviction notice could be issued for three years to over 7.7 lakh slum dwellers. A special policy will be put in place in the next three years to resettle slum dwellers, or regularise slums.
On June 18, the Uttarakhand high court directed the Dehradun Municipal Corporation, Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) and state functionaries concerned to remove all illegal encroachments and unauthorised constructions on public footpaths, roads, and streets within four weeks.
The directions were issued in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Manmohan Lakhera of Dehradun.
The government challenged the order in the Supreme Court. The apex court modified the HC order, directing DMC authorities to evict those who have encroached upon government land.
As soon as the eviction drive started in Dehradun, the Congress questioned the exercise. State Congress president Pritam Singh said maps of 1904, 1938 and 1992 were used to identify encroachments in the city, and most of them were slums. BJP legislators also came in support of slum dwellers.
“The ordinance was passed after the government failed to get a stay on the HC order. They could have passed the ordinance earlier. This shows how the BJP government wants to play with slum vote bank,” said former Congress legislator Raj Kumar who is fighting for slum dwellers’ rights.
The previous Congress government had constituted the ‘Uttarakhand slum reform committee’, which listed 582 slums in the state housing 7.7 lakh people. Nearly 46% of the slums are located on land owned by urban local bodies, or state/central government. At least 37% of the slums are located on river or stream banks; the dwellers face the danger of flooding.
“Our government had prepared a roadmap for regularising slums. We had decided to rehabilitate only those slums that are in flood-prone areas. The remaining slums could be given rights after calculating the land cost,” Singh said.
Some Congress leaders claimed that the demolition threat to slums was temporarily stopped after the ordinance was passed, but the government saved it from embarrassment.
“The government has given time to itself and not to the dwellers. In view of forthcoming urban local bodies and 2019 LS elections, the government does not want any hurdle that could become a poll issue,” a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.
Though the government passed the ordinance, rehabilitation of slum dwellers remains uncertain. “We will see what can be done in this regard. We will rehabilitate those located on DMC or government land under Pradhanmantri Awas Vikas Yojna and other housing projects. Not all slums could be rehabilitated,” urban development minister Madan Kaushik said.
The BJP has come in support of the government and slum dwellers. “The government needs time for planning the rules and deciding the future course of action. The decision (ordinance) is imperative and taken for the welfare of our people,” BJP state president Ajay Bhatt said.
So far 2887 unauthorised structures have been demolished in the state capital. In all 5324 encroachments have been identified and 108 buildings sealed during the anti-encroachment drive.
First Published: Jul 26, 2018 22:45 IST