Glaring Loopholes: Delhi Government’s Guidelines for Rehabilation/Resettlement of Slum-Dwellers

Source: Economic and Political Weekly, by Subhadra Banda and Shahana Sheikh 

If the Aam Aadmi Party government wants to keep its promise to the slum-dwellers to resettle and rehabilitate them with dignity and humaneness, then it must act quickly to plug in the various loopholes and iron out the ambiguities present in the resettlement guidelines which were issued by the previous Delhi government in 2013.

While addressing the Delhi legislative assembly on 2 January 2014, preceding the trust vote, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal put forward a seventeen-point agenda for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. The rehabilitation and resettlement of people living in unauthorised colonies and jhuggis was one of the issues mentioned by him. He said that unless the newly elected assembly finds a solution for them, their jhuggis will not be demolished. Just like the other political parties, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has promised in-situ resettlement, i.e., residents of jhuggi jhopri clusters (JJCs) will be given plots or flats at the same site where they are currently residing. The residents would be relocated to transitory accommodation, flats would be constructed on the cleared land, and “eligible” residents would then take possession of flats allotted to them. Only if this process was not feasible, would permanent relocation be undertaken.

Two attempts to demolish JJCs were undertaken in December 2013. The Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA’s) attempt in Mayur Vihar was foiled by the one of the AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, but the Railways managed to demolish one in Mansarovar Park in the last week of December. If the newly formed  Delhi government wants to fulfil its promises to residents of JJCs, it will need to act quickly.

Guidelines for Relocation and Rehabilitation of Slum-Dwellers

Any resettlement of JJCs, by default, implies demolition and eviction. Many researchers have found that a number of these evictions have been carried out without following adequate procedure. In 2010, even the High Court observed that “it is not uncommon to find a jhuggi dweller, with the bulldozer at the doorstep, desperately trying to save whatever precious little belongings and documents they have, which could perhaps testify to the fact that the jhuggi dweller resided at that place”. Subsequently on 25 February 2013, the Delhi government issued “Guidelines for implementation of the Scheme for relocation/ rehabilitation and allotment of flats to the Jhuggi Jhopri dwellers under JNNURM-2013”.

These guidelines list the duties of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), which came into being with the promulgation of the DSUIB Act, 2010. The Slum and Jhuggi Jhopri Department, earlier a part of the  Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), was transferred to this Board. These guidelines detail how DUSIB should survey households in JJCs and who should be eligible for rehabilitation. However, several ambiguities are present in the guidelines.

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