Press Note 25 July 2021
Since 14th July, the Haryana Government has been brutally demolishing houses built by Khori Gaon residents who have been living on this land for decades. Along with the bulldozers the residents have also been dealing with police violence and harassment simultaneously.
The Municipal Corporation of Faridabad framed a draft policy for rehabilitation of Khori Gaon residents 5 weeks after the Supreme Court gave its direction for removal of all unauthorized structures on forest land. This draft policy is akin to a cruel joke for the homeless Khori Gaon residents. The Supreme Court has now allowed petitioners to make suggestions to the draft policy for the Municipal Corporation to consider. We have sent our suggestions regarding the best possible rehabilitation policy to the MCF.
We do agree the Draft Rehabilitation Plan for Khori Gaon by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad falls short as it doesn’t address the historical injustices faced by the residents, the brutal violence and human rights abuses they have suffered due to the evictions and demolitions and their urgent need for alternate housing, financial and health needs. In our suggestions to the rehabilitation plan, we recommend a comprehensive rehabilitation package.
Process: The right to housing includes the right to livelihood, health, education, food, right to clean drinking water, sanitation, and transport facilities. Hence we urge the Haryana government to adopt a proper consultation process with the residents of Khori Gaon to understand their needs and concerns and design a rehabilitation policy through this process. A grievance redressal cell should also be set up.
Victims not ‘encroachers’: The policy must acknowledge that the residents of Khori Gaon are not squatters but victims of an ongoing land racket. The reference to the land mafia has been made in government submissions since 2011. However, little effort was made to tackle this problem. Secondly, the residents are victims of the poor implementation of PLPA forest land in the state of Haryana. There has not been any demarcation of forest land in Khori Gaon that is visible and understandable to common people.
Thirdly, several residents were provided with identity documents by different government agencies. Additionally, surveys have been carried out from time to time. Hence, the government cannot take the stand that it was unaware of the existence of Khori Gaon. Therefore, all residents fulfilling the eligibility criteria should be provided free-hold flats at no cost to the beneficiary.
1. The income ceiling of Rs. 3,00,000/- to determine the eligibility of residents for alternate housing must be on a self-declaration basis.
2. The residents should be allowed to produce a voter ID from anywhere in India as long as they have proof of residence in Khori Gaon.
3. Any state approved identification that bears a Khori Gaon address should be sufficient to prove residence. This can be Voter ID, School Admission/ school papers of children, any state government ID, electricity connection, Aadhar card, property survey number done by Yashi Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd. in 2019, land purchase agreement, Bank account, Ration card, Birth Certificate, Death certificate, Marriage certificate.
4. Parivar Pechan Patra (PPP) and electric connection by Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd. demand cannot be a limiting condition; it can be an additional document to prove identity and address.
5. The policy should also include those who bought land but could not build the house and hence were not residing in Khori Gaon.
Temporary shelter and compensation: The proposed rental value of Rs.2000 may or may not be adequate. Hence the value for a 30 sq m dwelling in the vicinity of Khori Gaon should be provided to residents for as long as it takes to make alternate housing available by the government. And if rentals are not available, then government should provide transit housing with food, drinking water, medicines and other basic facilities till all eligible residents are provided rehabilitation. The rehabilitation package needs to provide compensation for material losses, physical injury and trauma during eviction.
Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon , Vimal Bhai and Saathi
Concerned Citizens for Khori Gaon
National Alliance of People’s Movements