Delhi Government Asks Railways to First Relocate then Demolish the Jhuggis Along Railway Lines

The Delhi government has written to the Northern Railway, urging it to not demolish slums situated along the city’s railway tracks without first rehabilitating its dwellers.

The letter, from the government’s Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), said the slum dwelling units, which the rail utility is set to demolish in pursuance of a Supreme Court order, are protected under the provisions of the NCT of Delhi Laws (special provision) Second Act, 2011.

“It is clarified that as per provisions of …of the NCT of Delhi Laws (special provision) Second Act, 2011,… JJ (jhuggi jhopri) bastis which have come up before 01.01.2006 are protected and shall not be removed without orderly arrangement for relocation and rehabilitation of JJ dwellers and the jhuggi jhopri clusters in the NCT of Delhi in accordance with the provisions of the DUSIB Act, 2010,” read the letter.

“Accordingly, you are requested not to demolish the jhuggis situated on railway land without providing alternative accommodation as per provisions of the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015,” it further said.

The contents of the letter dated September 10, was approved by DUSIB vice-chairperson and urban development minister Satyendar Jain.

DUSIB also mentioned that the slum dwellers are eligible for alternative housing under the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015. The letter cited these rules while referring to the eviction notices sent by the Northern Railway to slum dwellers over the past few days.

The action by the Northern Railway came after the Supreme Court, on August 31, ordered the removal of 48,000 slum dwellings situated along railway tracks within three months. To ensure compliance with its order, the top court also stopped all other courts from issuing a stay order on their removal.

In its letter, the Delhi government also attached a list of 45,857 flats constructed by DUSIB under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which it has now offered for rehabilitation of slum dwellers, though at a cost.

It stated that the Railways, which is the land owning agency in this matter, will have to pay the cost of construction of alternative dwelling units; the cost of land, as per the institutional rate at which DUSIB purchased the land; and the cost of relocation.

According to the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, the relocation charges range from ₹7.55 lakh to ₹11.30 lakh per flat, depending on the location of the flat.

Of the 45,857 flats, 29,257 are “ready to move in” units located in areas such as Sultanpuri, Savda Ghevra, Bhalswa, Bawana and Narela. The remaining 16,600 flats are located in Tikri and Pooth Khurd, the government said, and these will be ready by December 2021.

The DUSIB, however, said some of the funds given by the Central government for construction of flats could be adjusted towards the amount payable by the land owning agency (Railways).

According to the Delhi Slum Rehabilitation Policy, DUSIB is the nodal agency for rehabilitation and relocation of slums with respect to the lands belonging to the municipal corporations and the Delhi government and its departments and agencies.

The policy insists on ‘in situ’ rehabilitation of slum dwellers in which the DUSIB has to either provide alternative housing on the same land or within a 5km radius of the original habitation. In exceptional circumstances, however, the DUSIB can also relocate inland, beyond the 5km radius, with prior approval from its board.