Slum residents near JLN stadium in Delhi get eviction notice

March 19, 2023
 File Photo
File Photo

NEW DELHI: The Public Works Department (PWD) has given the residents of the Barapullah slum near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium notice to leave the area as part of an encroachment clearance drive. The slumdwellers, who are mostly migrants daily wage earners, are distressed with no place to go to.

On March 16, the officials sent the around 500 occupants of the 60 jhuggis an eviction notice. The residents of the slum, who have come to Delhi from West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar, have been asked to vacate the area before March 20.

Kusum Desi, 40, who lost her husband during the second Covid wave, has been living at the slum with her two children, aged 4 and 3 years old and her disabled mother. Having called the slum her home for 18 years, the notice to vacate the area came as a big shock to her. “A few days ago, some officials came and told us that we had to move away from this place and were given a few days to do so. I don’t know where to take my young children and my old mother now,” she fretted.

Savita Devi, who is from Bihar, is worried about her daughter’s education. She said that of her three children, she could send only the youngest one to school to get a proper education. However, due to the eviction notice, she will also have to drop out of the school, feared Savita. The possibility of their education being disrupted has left many other children of the Barapullah slum anxious. They said they were unsure whether they would be able to get admission in other schools.

Ruman Singh, 17, said, “If we do not even have a roof above our head, how can we imagine being able to go to school? My sister recently sat for her final exams for Class V, but now we might have to get her name withdrawn from the rolls since we will have to leave the area. I hope we find a school for her later so that she can get an education, unlike me.”

Another area resident, Sunil Majhi, 25, a Bihar native who works as a contract worker in the municipal corporation, said that many NGO had assisted families in educating the children at the basti over the years. “But, if we have to move out of this area, the displacement will affect the children most,” said Majhi, a father of two. “In similar situations, we have seen children being forced to beg on the streets.”

Fearing forceful eviction, many households have started packing their belongings. “We have been living here for the last 17 years and have accumulated quite a lot of things. I don’t know where to take all of this now and how to live on the roads,” despaired one resident.

When contacted, a senior PWD official declined to offer a comment on the matter, stating that he was not aware of the issue.

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