Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, July 24:
Fifty-two slum dwellers of Haldipadia slum who had lost their houses in the recent demolition drive by the authorities, along with members of Odisha Basti Sangharsa Samiti (OBSS), an outfit fighting for slum dwellers, today staged a demonstration in front of Odisha Human Right Commission (OHRC) here.
The protestors demanded the 52 families displaced by the demolition be properly and immediately rehabilitated since the slum was among the 377 slums recognised by the state government.
The houses of the 52 families had been demolished in a jointly operation conducted recently by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), General Administration (GA) in presence of police personnel, to make way for the construction of a Traffic Training Institute (TTI) at the erstwhile Haldipadia slum where these families were residing.
The ousted families submitted a memorandum to the Chairperson of the OHRC urging him to take action against departmental officials for demolishing the houses by misusing their power and without following due procedure. They also demanded rehabilitation of the the families, who are now living under the open sky, at the earliest.
Dhiren Kumar Swain, secretary of OBSS, said; “In the last City Management Meeting (CMG) held here, Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, the chairperson, had directed officials to first rehabilitate those living in government recognised slums before evicting them. But these 52 houses were demolished violating the chief secretary’s order.”
In the process, the city authorities violated the laid down procedure of ‘rehabilitate first, evict later’, he said.
Swain said under Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) scheme, the slum families of 377 recognised slums were provided funds to construct houses and other amenities.
The activist further said though the BDA, BMC and GA had got permission from Odisha High Court to carry out the demolition drionly on 0.3 acres of slum land, they had demolished an extra 0.2 acres of land due to which 17 more families had to vacate their house forcibly.
According to the report, there are 377 recognised slums within the BMC area out of which 99 slums have their own land and 278 are located on government land.
“On June 28, we had informed the BMC commissioner to rehabilitate the families who have lost their houses. But instead of thinking of any alternatives, he had sent some polythene sheets to the displaced families,” he alleged.
“We, along with deprived families, today demonstrated in front of the OHRC and submitted a memorandum seeking its intervention into the matter and suspension of the officials at the earliest. In this context we have decided to fight till death to save their life and livelihood and their slum houses,” Swain added.