Pushta round5 – Vijayghat shamed – today’s incident

This is pieced together from what Poonam (SPA), Ruhani
(CSE), Ashok (Baliga Trust) and Amjad (MAMU) and
someone from Pushta told me over the phone about what
they witnessed of the incident in Vijayghat Pushta

The section south of Dholakpala, comprising Bihari
Basti, Indra Colony and Nau Pul, set amidst fields of
Dholakpala on the road / bundh travelling east of and
parallel the main pushta to Tejpal ki bagichi, etc,
was reduced to ashes.

A large group of people that Ashok spoke to about 5pm
said about a 1000 homes had been burnt down. His own
estimate, from experience of several Pushta fires, is
there might have been 500-600 jhuggis. People said the
fire had left 8 injured and 5 dead, including father
of four, Alam Bangali, 4-year old Irfan, and 3
year-old Rubina. Ashok saw the body of Rubina being
taken away by Police. The damage was substantial and
all was reduced to ashes, not smouldering coal but
ashes disappearing in the breeze.

The fire seems to have started in Indra Colony in the
middle and spread to the other two areas. From
agitated people that Poonam met around 2pm, when the
fire was blazing and tenders being pressed in, she got
the impression that the fire might have been started
in the morning in protest by someone. This was also
what I was told earlier along with the apprehension
that the same might have been provoked by exhortations
of some for organized protest, etc. That the bulldozer
was withdrawn before it started was confirmed by
several to Ashok and Amjad, so protest there must have
been. But the scale and spread of the fire was
attributed to the state. Indeed, while the fire
smouldered, megaphone announcements were being made in
the surviving part of Bihari Basti asking people to

Ruhani and other several media persons were stopped at
Vijayghat itself. She found her way in from the other
side through the fields by following the NDTV crew.
Several news channels, however, were inside, with
Police. Amjad asked some about this and Ashok also
observed that media was not spending time with people.
Poonam saw no media earlier.

Through all this, DDA staff was issuing parchis in the
premises with police-officer-NGO board outside. This
is where the fire really started. There has been no
method at all in the madness that has been going on in
Vijayghat Pushta, starting with the fact that DDA's
participation in it bears no relation whatsoever to
its statutory mandate. DDA's enabling Act, quite
simply, does not permit DDA to do this and even
Delhi?s dubious and defunct slum policy allows only
MCD such madness. DDA is duty-bound to have developed
on public land placed in its custody solely for
development strictly according to Plan 4 lakh EWS
plots to solve Delhi's slum problem, inclusive of
10000 in Civl Lines Zones, 12000 in New Delhi Zone,
etc, which it has not done. DDA is duty-bound to have
prepared for the riverbed a comprehensively considered
Zonal plan by due process inclusive of 90-day Public
Notice, which it has not done. Pending notification of
the legal riverbed plan, DDA is duty-bound to act
against ad-hoc schemes, projects, etc, in the
riverbed. By no stretch of creative interpretation can
be read in DDA's Act freedom for DDA to evict ?
without notice, etc, required by its Act even for
wilful misuse ? those it has failed to house for a
scheme that is extra-legal for not being embedded in a
legal Plan. But this freedom has been forced upon DDA
by a nexus amongst anarchist politicians, bureaucrats,
professionals, NGOs and donors, spawning the unending
drama of wilful evictions and wilful development.

Minions and people will take the blame, as the nexus
speaks with different faces against them. But it is
the nexus that has shamed Vijayghat.

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