By Suman Bhanoo, PRIA
According to UN-HABITAT, India is home to 63% of all slum dwellers in South Asia. This amounts to 170 million people, 17% of the world’s slum dwellers and the condition of homeless people of Delhi is very gigantic. Homelessness is a primary existential displacement where people are living on the edge of life.It is estimated that Delhi has around 1,00,000 homeless people. Forced eviction is one of the main causes of homelessness. To raise voice on this issue,Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), in collaboration with several organizations in Delhi, including Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), Nazdeek, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and PRIA initiated a process to create a Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) in Delhi. Sole purpose of HRTF is to defend the housing of urban poor. Due to rise in forced evictions and other housing rights violations in Delhi and the lack of a coordinated mechanism to address and respond to them, HLRN felt that a strong HRTF should be created in Delhi, so that people enjoy the right to adequate housing.
The goal of the Housing Rights Task Force is to work in alliance with different organization to prevent forced evictions and housing rights violations, and to promote inclusive and sustainable development process that lead to the full enjoyment of housing rights.
Recently on December, 2013 at India International Centre, HRTF convened meeting with active members to discuss the work done over the last few months to identify challenges and priority area of work, and to prepare a collaborative plan of action for the way forward. The meeting was attended by the members of various partner organizations.
DECISIONS TAKEN DURING MEETING
(i) Develop a short and comprehensive ‘situational analysis’ note on housing rights issues in Delhi for the Lieutenant Governor and seek an appointment with him to discuss critical issues.
(ii) Prepare a comprehensive memorandum of key issues for all political parties. Given the political scenario in Delhi after the recent elections, it was felt that the time is opportune to get all major political parties to commit to protecting housing rights, providing basic services in all settlements, and imposing a moratorium on evictions in Delhi. It was decided that the manifesto prepared by the PRIA-Assembly of Informal Workers will be revised and used for this purpose.
(iii) Encourage a senior journalist (from ToI/HT/The Hindu) to visit East Kidwai Nagar and write a report, as the residents have been forcibly evicted and been threatened by evictions three times since 2009 when 200 houses were demolished.
(iv) Identify three bastis that need legal aid. Study their issues and help them with assistance from legal interns and social work graduates.
(v) Approach Justice A.P. Shah for his assistance, including for identifying lawyers to take up cases on issues of housing rights in Delhi.
(vi) File an RTI to find out various procedures/rules in place for authorising evictions.
(vii) File an RTI to gain information on land use plans of DDA and MCD.
(viii) Organise a press conference in February on housing rights issues in Delhi.
Tagged: Assembly of Informal Workers, Housing Rights Task Force, Human Rights Law Network, Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Indo-Global Social Service Society, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Nazdeek