Especially when done in the middle of a deadly, unprecedented pandemic, it endangers the health and lives of thousands.
By Colin Gonsalves and Anupradha Singh, The Indian Express.
The decision of the Haryana government to break 10,000 jhuggis without rehabilitation is an act of enormous cruelty. Having settled in the area for two decades and having nowhere to go, an indigent jhuggi owner and construction labourer, Ganeshilal, 70, hanged himself from a tree — on hearing that his house, on which he had spent Rs 2 lakh for renovation, was to be demolished.
The state of Haryana says that the demolition is necessary because the houses are in a “forest area”. If that is the sole reason, how does the state explain the existence of high-end apartments which have been allowed to stand untouched for decades now? The Taj Vivanta Hotel, the Sarovar Portico Hotel, the Pinnacle Business Tower and the Radha Soami Satsang Centre, along with numerous farmhouses, are also said to be within the same forest area.
The right to rehabilitation of destitute jhuggi-dwellers who are currently in occupation of public land is well-settled. The recent judgment of the Delhi High Court in Sudama Singh’s case held that “the denial of the benefits of the rehabilitation… violates their right to shelter guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. In these circumstances, removal of their jhuggis without ensuring their relocation would amount to gross violation of their Fundamental Rights”.