Pushta round5 – surrender?

Diary piece - 04.04.04

In Vijayghat Pushta people were packing / demolishing,
without even Notice, yesterday. A handwritten list of
those offered plots was pasted in a few places (some
said on 26.03.04), but is not up any more. DDA staff
is receiving drafts at a premise with police
personnel, handwritten note on steel door to which
mentions the draft should be in favour of DDA and
payable in Delhi and name of an officer in charge.
Copies of the list of all (about 1500) surveyed, with
tick marks against some (about 600) in columns saying
18 sqm and 12.5 sqm are also with pradhans
(jhuggi-dadas?). The one Kashyap saw today has cases
of several plots allotted against one survey number.
At the draft-receiving premise, Rs.5000 is being
accepted for 12.5 sqm plots. Some at least are aware
that others have objected to illegalities in the
process being followed for Pushta clearance. But,
though they have been to protests at behest of
politicians and NGOs and pradhans, they are unaware of
any formal representations having been made to
concerned authorities on any specific point of lapse
in law. Yesterday police / DDA staff verbally informed
them of demolition in a day or two and people began
packing and demolishing.

In Belagaon, at the fork in Kanchanpuri where the
ITO-Shantivan pushta branches off to Rajghat
(ITO-Rajghat being the stretch cleared during 17.03.04
and 01.04.04), also some are packing up, even without
Notice. I had wandered into Belagaon after Indira
Colony demolition began on 01.04.04 and found to my
surprise a quiet old hamlet. Over several cups of tea
several people educated me. I offered to write up for
their use a note based on planning law (which they
were aware existed but had so far only heard about
from NGO propaganda against it). Someone had gone as
far as saying as I left that if this would stop it
would stop at Belagaon. On 03.04.04 I returned, but
they had not collected the documents that they had
said they would collect to sharpen the note I had to
do. And someone sheepishly asked if I had an NGO and
how much would all this cost. I tried my best to
clarify my position, but trust is not reasonable
expectation anymore. Today some were as forthcoming as
they could be, but they said no one believes this
madness will stop and there was one truck and one old
family was leaving. I told them I would do a
representation on my own behalf then, with what little
I understood and copy it to them and whoever else I
thought they should take up the matter with or might
be of help otherwise.

I realise what is needed far more than technical
ammunition is the will to fight this war against
anarchy. It is unreasonable to expect Pushta citizens
to find that will in face of reality of tonnes of
debris left behind by the lawlessness of last
fortnight, not to mention continuing antics of their
so-called leaders. (In Vijayghat Pushta, the premise
where DDA is camping has outside it the board of a
police-officer NGO and yards away across the street is
housed a Police family counseling centre run by
another NGO. In Belagaon in five minutes people told
the part-history of resettlement that features,
without credit to them, as the resettlement history of
Delhi in the funded anti-Plan NGO-book released by
funded celebrities that is being converted to booklets
for sale in slums by NGOs while the consortiun that
brought it out claims in its routine propaganda
material credit for being the best clearing house for
(mis?)information on Delhi development and minions of
its constituents go about advising simplistic
non-cooperation in Pushta since they cannot ask people
to seek justice with reference to laws they are busy

The disgusting Delhi discourse has demonstrated yet
again on the weekend that it is whore. While Saheli
hosted Pushta talk by those who have been instigating
people against the law into non-cooperation instead of
justice-seeking while also fomenting communal discord,
SPA alumni had a GBM followed by dinner party and
there was a news report about CII meeting on problems
of Delhi. (CII, it may be recalled is the same that is
going around giving real estate ideas beyond
jurisdiction to our ministries, such as for shopping
mall, etc on site of Safdarjang Airport to civil
aviation ministry). The report of the CII seminar to
solve Delhi problems had DDA VC (same who issued on
behest of Tourism Minister then Urban Development
Minister the unlawful circular that cut statutory
minimum plot sizes from 25 sqm to 12.5 sqm) blaming
for Delhi?s woes migrants in slums (though census 2001
and Planning Commission in 2002 has rejected the
hypothesis of unanticipated migration and the slum
problem owes squarely to failure to develop EWS
housing according to Delhi Master Plan of which DDA is
custodian). It had a spokesperson of the planning
fraternity (formerly DDA Commissioner Planning and
Director SPA, currently consultant endorsing
extra-constitutional plan-making, board member of a
private firm doing such consultancy, director of our
Association of Metropolitan Development Authorities,
etc) making vague remarks about employment generation
in satellite towns instead of countering the ludicrous
view about causality of Delhi problems. And it had a
narrowly specialised professional speaking of
monuments (absurdly pitted against slums in the
current war) with some obtuse argument about how much
UK spends on conservation and what it would cost to
rebuild rather than conserve a monument. Perhaps out
of courtesy to patrons of their so-called expertise,
these well-behaved experts seem not to have pointed
out that problems of Delhi owe in large measure to
corporate greed and nexuses that manipulate law and
institutions in its service.

The hopelessness in Pushta is crystallizing into a
moment in history that will torment.

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