The Supreme Court passed an order on August 31 for the demolition of jhuggis along the 140km of railway tracks in Delhi. There are large clusters of shanty settlements alongside the tracks in the city, amounting to nearly 48,000 jhuggi jhopdis. There is severe uncertainty over the rehabilitation prospects of these inhabitants due to the involvement of various stakeholder organisations including the Central Government, Delhi Development Authority and Northern railways. The government has ensured that they won’t demolish the jhuggis unless the rehabilitation measures are in place. However, the tussle or shared responsibility of this situation paints a rather grim picture for the future of these people. During a raging pandemic where livelihoods have been severely affected, the government has not only failed to control the rising unemployment or failing economy, it has rendered the fate of these people hanging in uncertainty. Thousands of families are at the risk of being evicted without a suitable housing alternative during dire times.
The screeching sounds of the railway track fills these jhuggies just as uncertainty and hoplessness loom above these innocent lives. These are the worst affected communities by the pandemic who aren’t left with much to hold on to in the first place. At such a time, destroying their homes is a severe blow to the faith these people put in the political parties that pander them for votes for a few days every five years.