Delhi Housing Rights Task Force Condemns Demolitions in Delhi, Calls for State Accountability and Justice for Evicted Families


New Delhi, 14 December 2015

The Delhi Housing Rights Task Force
(DHRTF)—a collective of individuals and organizations concerned with, and
working to protect and promote, the human right to adequate housing in Delhi
and across India—strongly
condemns the recent demolition in Delhi by the Delhi Development Authority
(DDA) of Belagaon (1 December),1
and by the
Railways of Shakur Basti (12 December)2 in
the peak of winter.

Delhi has a population of over 150,000 homeless people, only
about two per cent of who are accommodated in shelters. Just in the last week,
over 25 homeless people have died in the capital. It is a cruel irony that the
central government is demolishing homes and rendering more people homeless
despite its claims to provide ‘Housing for All.’

The Railways and DDA carried out these demolitions without
due process and in violation of the Constitution of India, court judgements,
and international human rights standards, including the United Nations Basic
Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.
Several judgements of the High Court of Delhi, including Sudama Singh and
Ors.vs. Govt. of NCT Delhi
(10 February 2010), have ordered for due
process, including adequate survey, notice, and rehabilitation to be carried
out before any demolition/eviction in Delhi. People in Belagaon and Shakur
Basti, however, were not even given time to remove their belongings before
their homes were demolished. Affected families have been left out in the cold
with no provisions for alternative housing or compensation for the loss of
their homes and belongings. The state authorities have violated, inter alia,
the human rights to adequate housing, information, security of the person and
home, food, water and sanitation, health, education, work/livelihood, the right
to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, and most
importantly, the right to life.

During the Shakur Basti
demolition, a six-month-old baby girl was killed, while another young girl
suffered serious injuries, as a result of which she has had to miss her school
examinations. While the Delhi government has condemned the act of the Railways,
and DDA has agreed to stall evictions during the winter, DHRTF believes that
concerned officials of both agencies must be held accountable for the grave
violations of human rights, and tried according to the law. This is especially
important given the refusal of the Railways to accept responsibility for the
death of the baby. Members of DHRTF also object to the statement made by the
Minister for Railways in Parliament today that, “Such encroachments are the
main source of garbage and open defecation, etc.” This reflects a very strong
prejudice against the poor, marginalised, and homeless population of the city.

The Delhi Housing Rights Task Force had written a letter to
DDA on 1 October 2015, requesting the authority not to carry out any
demolitions in Delhi. In particular, the letter stated: “Impose an immediate
moratorium on all demolitions of existing settlements on all DDA land. The
winter season is approaching and any further demolitions at this stage will
result in thousands of people being left homeless on the streets of Delhi in
the intense cold weather, exposing them to the risk of death, which is in
violation of directives issued by the Supreme Court of India.”

Given the recent demolitions in Delhi, DHRTF makes the
following demands to the Government of India:

1. Impose a moratorium on evictions in Delhi on all central
government land (in accordance with the directive of the Delhi government).

2. Provide immediate relief, including accommodation, food,
water, medical supplies, and healthcare to all evicted families.

3. Compensate the affected families for loss of their homes
and belongings, and provide immediate assistance to help families rebuild their
homes at the same site.

4. Provide alternative uniforms, books, and other
educational material to children and ensure that they are able to resume school
and appear in their examinations.

5. Give special attention to pregnant and lactating women,
infants, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, and persons with
illness/health concerns, Dalits, and minorities.

6. Coordinate with the Delhi government and the Delhi Urban
Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), and provide the required support to the
affected families.

7. Ensure that all officials responsible for the demolitions
and loss of homes and life are investigated and tried according to due process
of the law.

8. Ensure that provisions of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
(Housing for All by 2022) and the National Urban Livelihoods Mission – Scheme
of Shelters for Urban Homeless are implemented in Delhi.

9. Make adequate budgetary provisions for low-cost housing,
especially for in situ upgrading and construction of housing for the
homeless. This should include hostels, women’s homes and shelters, family
shelters, short-stay homes, rehabilitation centres, special homes for destitute
and marginalised groups, which are linked to livelihoods of the urban poor.

10. Ensure reservation for Economically Weaker Sections
(EWS) housing in all real estate/housing projects and develop a human
rights-based law to provide affordable adequate housing for EWS and Low Income

11. Implement orders of the High Court of Delhi and Supreme
Court of India.

12. Implement international law and guidelines, including
the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and

Members of the Delhi Housing Rights Task Force also call
upon the Delhi government to take immediate steps to establish adequate
shelters in the city to ensure that no homeless person dies from the cold. The
government, at both the central and state level, must meet its commitment to
protect the human rights of all residents and take immediate steps to provide
restitution for human rights violations resulting from its acts of commission
and omission.

For more information, please call any of the following
DHRTF members: 
Shivani (9818205234) / Gautam (9953951219) / Shakeel
(9871550857) / Shanta (7503755503)
Delhi Housing Rights Task Force 
G-18/1 Nizamuddin West, New Delhi – 110013

* Click here to download the press release.