ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Where? When? How Many? The Big Picture of Demolitions Carried Out for G20 Summit

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

Published
India
6 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

Days before the G20 Summit in New Delhi, the green sheets and flex boards covering several slum areas across the national capital have not gone unnoticed by local commuters. However, that's only one aspect of the 'beautification' drive undertaken by the authorities, directly affecting the lives of slum-dwellers.

As India took the presidency of the grouping in December last year, slums and settlements across the capital have been razed to the ground, putting thousands of people at risk of loss of shelter and income.

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

Five areas in Delhi that saw large-scale demolitions, according to data collated by Land Conflict Watch.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

While demolitions in Tughlakabad and Mehrauli are said to be linked to heritage walks planned for the G20 delegates, Yamuna Floodplains and Moolchand are close to their travel routes. Pragati Maidan is the main location for the summit.

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

Apart from those five areas, demolition drives have been carried out in several other places in Delhi, according to data collated by Land Conflict Watch.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

The locations of the demolition drives line up with events planned for the G20 Summit – and the routes that many of the world leaders will take while navigating their convoys through the capital.

According media reports quoting authorities, the demolitions have been carried out in the name of "beautification drives," "clearing of encroachments," "conservation of the Yamuna floodplains," and "protection of monuments."

To understand the big picture, The Quint brings you data and testimonies from the five locations that saw the biggest demolitions.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Tughlakabad

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

Demolitions in Tughlakabad were carried out following an order by the Delhi High Court in February 2023, which directed the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove "unauthorised constructions" and facilitate rehabilitation for those affected.

At a public hearing of 'The Forced Evictions Across India and G20 Events' on 22 May, Reena Sharma, a resident of the Bengali Colony in Tughlakabad, said:

"Tughlakabad has all government facilities such as a government school. Then how is the land illegal? We had invested our life's savings in that house we built. And they just razed it!"

The Wire reported that a mass migration of Tughlakabad residents took place on 30 April 2023 after the ASI allegedly destroyed close to 1,000 homes.

Another report in Article 14 stated that while the ASI claimed that 1,248 notices were served, affected families said that 3,000 homes were demolished. As per the report of the public hearing, Tughlakabad demolitions "left more than 2,50,000 men, women and children displaced."

"The Tughlakabad eviction was so brutal that even those of us who have been working for decades with such evictions have not seen something of this magnitude," said Abdul Shakeel from Basti Suraksha Manch at the said public hearing.

"Police surrounded the basti, jammers were installed so that no one could share videos, the phones of activists were snatched, the nearby hotels and shops were shut, and the entire basti was razed in two days," Shakeel claimed.

Mehrauli 

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

In Delhi's Mehrauli, after 700 eviction notices were officially served, at least 25 homes were demolished in February 2023. A single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court then ordered a stay.

However, the homes that were already razed fell under an area that housed more than 4,000 families.

Several media reports said the demolition affected 3,430 people living in that area.

During the public hearing, land and forest governance researcher Prudhviraj Rupavath linked residents' economic capabilities with the attitude of the authorities.

While 700 notices were issued to middle-class house owners residing on illegal land in Mehrauli, close to 25 houses were ultimately demolished, he claimed. However, in Tughlakabad, 1,300 notices were issued and close to 3,000 homes were allegedly demolished. That showed a bias based on profile and economic status, since the Tughlakabad region accommodates more from the lower tiers, compared to Mehrauli, he concluded.
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Yamuna Floodplains

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

The Yamuna Pushta area was one of the worst affected by the demolition drives, with the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) demolishing eight of its own homeless shelters near the Yamuna floodplains in March 2023.

Reports said that close to 1,000 eviction notices were served to residents in the Yamuna floodplains, and almost 150 homes were demolished, affecting approximately 4,900 residents and leaving close to 700 homeless.

In February 2023, temporary structures built "illegally" on the Yamuna floodplain area of Zakir Nagar were bulldozed. As per reports, nearly 300 families were affected.

Speaking at the public hearing, Seema, who was a resident at one of the shelters, said:

"What crime have I committed? I have a young kid. The shelter has even been broken and with that, the water supply has also been stopped. Now I'm just living under trees. I cannot move since the accident. No authorities or government officials have visited or enquired about our situation after the demolition of Rain Basera Shelter homes."
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Moolchand Basti

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

On 27 March, following a Delhi High Court Order, close to 600 homes were reportedly demolished and their residents, evicted, and forced to live on the street. While close to 4,900 people, belonging to 1,000 homes, were served eviction notices, the demolitions eventually left approximately 2,940 homeless.

The Bela Estate Mazdoor Basti Samiti claimed that the estate is a large JJ cluster on the western bank of the Yamuna river and comprises five sub-areas – China Colony, Bela Gaon, Malla Gaon, Moolchand Basti, and Kanchan Puri.

Puja, who used to live in Bela Estate, said, "We were given three hours to pack our things which were next to impossible. In a month's time, bulldozers were unleashed on us thrice. They first broke the hand pumps, so that we would leave immediately since no one can survive without water."

During the public hearing, activists alleged that the demolitions in Bela Estate were in connection with the beautification drive for the G20 Summit, even though the DUSIB claimed that the homes were 'encroachment on the eco-sensitive zone'.

Moreover, a shelter at Sarai Kale Khan was also removed apparently because a park, which will be a venue for G20 dignitaries' talks, was to be constructed close to the slums.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Dhaula Kuan

The locations line up with events planned for the G20 Summit and the routes many of the world leaders will take.

Although several demolitions received temporary stay orders from the Delhi High Court in Dhaula Kuan, the residents remain in limbo regarding the status of their houses. The Public Works Department (PWD) had issued eviction notices to close to 150 families living in a slum near Dhaula Kuan on 26 December 2022.

Speaking to Outlook, a resident named Amit said, "About 400-500 people reside here and some work for PWD themselves. Pehle jab wo log aaye the to keh rahe the ki hatao jhuggis, apne haath se todo warna police aake satayegi."

Similarly, on 28 January, PWD officials pasted eviction notices asking residents to vacate the houses within 15 days. While no reason was specified, residents believe that the "clean-up" is being done for the summit. But the stay was ordered on 14 February.

(With inputs from Land Conflict Watch.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×