Mid winter evictions, 2003

Five facts that might be of use to those wanting to
try prevent mid-winter evictions. (Please tell
whomever you know in slums or consider sympathetic in
government, politics, anywhere in the city).

On 16.12.03 a settlement of 1200 families was
demolished without notice in south Delhi. I am told
about 80 were found eligible for resettlement and the
rest worthy only of bulldozers in the cold. I am also
told of NGO responses. The lot that lately released an
anti-Master-Plan book at a celebrity do advised the
evicted to move court (which closed on 19.12.03) for
reinstatement and compensation. Another ? a human
rights outfit of renown ? said it was documenting the
demolition. Another offered to help with media
contacts when the documentation was done. The in-house
NGO of multi-national outfit taking over city space
for night shelters offered night shelter for few women
and children. The same multinational had flown in the
celebrities for the anti-Plan book release and, in
general, these good fellas are in some sort of
solidarity. Meanwhile, here are some facts that people
who wish to simply try preventing mid-winter evictions
might find of use.

One, demolition without notice is illegal under Delhi
Development Act, the only Act that governs use of land
in Delhi. This is explicit in s.30, which requires
prior notice as well as opportunity for hearing.
Against demolition in inclement weather there are
several court and policy precedents.
[Note: Demolition without notice has become practice
under policy only because the challenge to it has been
obfuscated on compassionate rather than legal grounds.
In November 2002 High Court quashed even the illegal
policy that permitted such demolitions after declaring
a few eligible for illegal resettlement.
Unfortunately, authorities have been (mis)using this
order to evict slums since last winter and civil
society solidarity has been targeted against the order
rather than against its misuse.]

Two, the November 2002 order allowed clearance of
slums obstructing planned development, defined in law
as development according to Master Plan. The Master
Plan requires priority to low-income housing. This
added position is the basis of the High Court order of
November 2003 in petitions filed by slum citizens,
posted at:
[Note: It is in this legal perspective that mid-winter
demolitions in the name of planned development amount
to misuse of the Court's order. Curiously, civil
society solidarity continues to attack the Master Plan
and the November 2002 order without reference to the
November 2003 order and media, while it did report the
book release at which anti-Plan and anti-Court views
were freely aired, did not report the November 2003
order that became public around the same time].

Three, not just DDA, but all authorities of central,
state and local government have Master Plan
responsibilities by virtue of their representation on
the Authority under the Act, etc. Those really
concerned about people in slums might support them in
efforts to seek accountability about implementation of
their settled entitlements before demolitions in the
name of planned development.

Four, Police, which usually claims it only provides
force in demolitions, cannot provide force for
anything illegal. Those wanting to stop demolitions
might try doing so before the force leaves the police
station ? by insisting that officers concerned take
personal responsibility for demolition being legal in
terms of statutory requirements of notice and
definition of planned development.

Five, the city ? not just slum citizens ? would do
well to note that the slum problem is becoming
intractable and the endlessly drifting discourse about
it unaffordable. Before those in positions of
constitutional authority suggest original alternatives
they must account for what they are meant to have done
under law. Before those who have assumed
extra-constitutional authority presume to suggest
alternatives they must provide proof, besides of their
alternatives being different if not better, of their
own competence and integrity. Neither will do this of
their own will, accountability pre-requires assertion
of the will of citizens.

Letter of 19.12.03 to Police Commissioner (in
continuation of letter about last winter?s mid-winter
demolitions) is at

Letter of 20.12.03 to NHRC Chairman (in continuation
of correspondence about demolitions without notice) is
at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mpisgmedia/message/18

The Arjun Camp case in which the order of 12.11.2003
was given is part-chronicled is at

Two posts about last winter's evictions:

18.01.03: Slumming Delhi | "I have picked, as peg to
hang this plannerly talk, the Delhi High Court
judgement of end-November 2002 striking down Delhi's
slum policy and permitting eviction without
resettlement. I have done so for three reasons other
than topicality. One, I think evictions interest all
those who are interested, one way or another, in the
slum issue. Two, city politics before and after the
judgement shows how the slum discourse is stuck in
what I call the 'endowment paradigm'. Three, some
concurrent matters raising the issue of citizens'
entitlements provide a different perspective, which I
believe merits urgent attention --

05.02.03: Mid-winter slum demolitions | "On 14
December 2002, a fortnight after the High Court struck
down Delhi's slum policy and allowed eviction without
resettlement of slums getting in the way of planned
development, Express Newsline reported the first of
the mid-winter evictions. I had circulated a panicky
piece of plannerly prose to plead that what was
reported had nothing to do with planned development. I
have now come across another news report that confirms
this. I don't know what to think or say except that
someone owes a huge apology and more to those
callously evicted. The news report from last week as
well as the prose of 14.12.02 is here --

Some related posts about night shelters are listed at

One about the NGO anti-Plan book release is at

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