‘What About Us?: Dhobi Ghat Residents After DDA Demolition Drive’

Residents say they were given no prior notice before the clearance.

Updated
My Report
4 min read

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Video Producer: Aliza Noor

On Thursday, 24 September, residents of the Dhobi Ghat area near Batla House saw their jhuggis turn to debris as part of a sudden demolition drive carried out by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

I decided to visit the ground next afternoon to gauge what had happened. Despair, shock, and worry were evident on the faces of this slum colony’s residents, most of whom are daily wage labourers already suffering amid the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Homes were destroyed overnight.
Homes were destroyed overnight.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

Most of the residents I spoke to said they were given little to no time to collect their belongings. Others said they were injured in the chaos that ensued.

“Politicians come around the election to ask for vote, but there’s no sign of anyone right now. None of the leaders have come to ask us about our condition, to give us any advice or to comfort us. This is what we are going through.”
Sunita Mandal, Wage Labourer

Residents of the slum have long complained about basic amenities in the area. After the demolition late Thursday, there’s no food or water for families to sustain themselves either.

Some residents have been living since 30 years.
Some residents have been living since 30 years.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

Another daily wage worker, who has been living in the area for 14 years, told me that the only managed to clear half of his belongings.

“I got a call from my house around 12 pm to come back. The police told us to clear our things or our jhuggis will be destroyed. We had only cleared half the things when they began with their JCB machine.”
Mohammad Zahid, Wage Labourer

Others alongside him alleged that they were given no prior notice.

Amid rising coronavirus cases, slum dwellers wonder where they will go. 
Amid rising coronavirus cases, slum dwellers wonder where they will go. 
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)
Nothing remains.
Nothing remains.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

Only rubble remains at the site that houses over 800 people and is spread over 2.5 acres. All of them are left wondering where they will go next. Do they not have rights to this city?

What about rehabilitation?
What about rehabilitation?
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)
Residents say they were not given any prior notice.
Residents say they were not given any prior notice.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

‘How Do We Survive?’

As questions of rehabilitation arise, distressed parents wonder how their children and the elderly will survive.

“There’s no water to drink here. We bought one gallon of water and are drinking from that somehow. There is no toilet facility, nothing. Only some people who can are getting us some food. They damaged our burma, our belongings, everything.”
Sunita Mandal, Wage Labourer

Mandal, also sated that she has her Aadhar card, pan card, voter card, ration card for any proof required.

The Quint has access to these documents as well.

The rubble would be cleared in the coming days.
The rubble would be cleared in the coming days.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

It is also important to note that earlier this month, the Supreme Court had ordered that a comprehensive, phased plan must be drawn for the removal of 48,000 jhuggis alongside railway tracks in the city.

However, the Centre had told the top court that any decision will only be taken after consultation with the Delhi government.

Amid rising coronavirus cases, slum dwellers wonder what their next steps would be.
Amid rising coronavirus cases, slum dwellers wonder what their next steps would be.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)
A man was also injured during the drive.
A man was also injured during the drive.
(Photo Courtesy: Mohammed Asif)

While on the site, it was reassuring to see some providing relief to the families of Dhobi Ghat; but what can compensate the loss of a home?

A senior official from the DDA confirmed to The Quint that jhuggis were demolished as they were on DDA land. No further details were given. In a press release, the DDA has said, 'The land is owned by DDA. The matter was brought to notice of our Vice Chairman, Anurag Jain and with the help of Delhi Police teams, the encroachment was removed.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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