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Delhi HC stays demolition drive in Noor Nagar slum colony

– Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi, Nov. 24: The Delhi High Court’s stay order brought great relief to the inhabitants of Noor Nagar’s slum situated in Jamia Nagar Okhla here. The Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department had served notice to these slumdwellers to vacate the area within a week. However, NGO Khudai Khidmatgar approached the Delhi High Court for immediate intervention in this matter, and the court ordered a stay on the demolition drive.

“We informed the Hon’ble court about the ground reality, vulnerability, and urgency of the matter,” said Faisal Khan, leader of Khudai Khidmatgar.

The Delhi High Court heard the matter on Nov. 20 and granted interim relief, staying any action on the slums until Feb. 2024. The HC order will bring big relief to Noor Nagar slum colony, Kan added.

A majority of people living in the slum are vegetable vendors, rickshaw pullers, domestic workers, and daily wage workers. The slum is home to about 10,000 members of marginalized communities living in about 500 jhuggis.

On behalf of the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department, the head works division of Agra Canal sent out a notice on Nov. 10, telling these marginalized families to leave their slums within seven days. Like every locality in the country, the residents of this slum area include young children, elderly people who are unwell, and people who have no place to go. The notice to leave the slums within seven days – especially during the winter – caused fear, animosity, and uncertainty among the long-term residents. Few people attempted looking for rented homes in nearby localities; however, the rentals are far beyond the affordability of laborers, daily wage earners, domestic workers, and scrap pickers.

According to Faisal Khan, a number of volunteers from the Khudai Khidmatgar ragpickers’ wing and domestic workers’ wing also reside in these slums. Maulana Azad Centre is run by Khudai Khidmatgar Delhi for the children living in these slums. These children receive mentorship, free tuition, and bridge schooling from our volunteers.

“Individuals came to the Khudai Khidmatgar team to ask for advice in this circumstance. In order to engage with the families, our team went to the slums. Every day, we had brief meetings and conversations with volunteers from Majdoor Awaaz and legal specialists from HRLN. We guaranteed all legal advice. Team Khudai Khidmatar members Mohammad Chand and Rizwan Khan gathered family documents and assembled them for the legal documentation,” Khan informed.

These slums do not burden the city; rather, they supply labor for basic household tasks like cooking and waste management. Khan further said that they also house the majority of the area’s vegetable vendors and serve as rickshaw pullers, plumbers, and drivers.

“Is it possible for large cities to be devoid of labor? This HC stay provides some short-term respite. This has temporarily put a stop to the issue, but we will continue to support these families until a solution is found. Every effort is made to prevent any negative action, such as demolition, but if it must be done, what plans will they make for thousands of people, and what about rehabilitation?” Khan asked.

“We seek all your solidarity and support for these individuals who run the Mega City yet are marginalized and considered a burden on the smart city plans,” Khan maintained.

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