"When the entire globe is facing a pandemic, it is the responsibility of the State to protect everyone, more specifically the population of weaker sections from any hardship that may aggravate their plight adversely," the Allahabad High Court observed on Wednesday while restraining the Ghaziabad Development Authority from carrying out demolition in a slum area located at Ghaziabad.
The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma was hearing a PIL concerning eviction of residents of Bhovapur Basti behind Radisson Blue Hotel at Kaushambi in Ghaziabad.
As interim relief, the court has directed the authority to provide alternate accommodation, essential amenities and medical facilities to the displaced slum dwellers and also to take measures for their rehabilitation. The Court also directed the state to come up with the action plan for rehabilitating the slum dwellers on the next date of hearing.
Allegedly, the said Basti has housed labourers from across the country since 1990. However, the Petitioners averred that the District Administration, Ghaziabad is continuously making efforts to remove these residents without providing them any compensation/ alternative land for their rehabilitation, as prescribed under the Proviso to Section 26-A of the Uttar Pradesh Planning and Development Act, 1973.
It is alleged that at the instance of Ghaziabad Development Authority, the local administration damaged some houses of the Basti on October 9, and an effort was made to evict the residents. Thus, the writ petition was filed apprehending complete demolition of houses in the Basti.
The Petitioners have sought complete rehabilitation of all the residents of the said Basti and have urged the Court to call for all relevant rehabilitation policies applicable on slum dwellers. They also sought a compensation of Rs. 20,000 to be paid to each of the residents as compensation for unlawful demolition.
The Bench opined that the Ghaziabad Development Authority should have offered a place to rehabilitate the residents of the Basti before their eviction and the demolition of their houses. It has now issued following instructions:
Recently, the Supreme Court's order for removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings around the 140-kilometer length of railway tracks in New Delhi, invited massive criticism from all quarters.
Concerns were expressed over the order as it was alleged that there was no direction for rehabilitation of the concerned slum dwellers prior to eviction or demolition, and that it threatened the lives of such slum dwellers.
The controversy was later put to rest when the Central Government informed the Court that there will not be immediate removal of the slums and the Railways in consultation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will discuss and find a solution.
Case Title: Dev Pal v. Ghaziabad Development Authority & Ors.
Appearance: Advocate Ali Qambar Zaidi (for Petitioner); ASG Ravi Prakash Pandey (for Respondent)
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