A recent study has claimed that from January to July 2022 government agencies demolished as many as 25,800 houses affecting at least 124,450 people.
The study, titled ‘Forced Eviction in India in 2021’, was conducted by a NGO called the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).
It claimed that Government authorities have evicted at least 567 people per day or 24 people every hour across India.“The eviction occurred despite the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic during January-March 2022,” it said. Court orders and their implementation by state authorities resulted in the eviction of over 106,014 people in at least 11 incidents of demolitions in 2021, HLRN said.
The report said that the total number of people who faced evictions over the last five years (between 2017 and 2021), exceeds one million. The study claimed nearly 15 million people across the country live under the threat of eviction.
According to the report, authorities evicted 207,106 people, including 13,750 during the peak of the COVID pandemic in April and May last year, from their homes citing reasons such as environment protection, infrastructure projects, encroachment removal, and beautification projects across the country in 2021. The report said the government has not resettled or compensated at least 59 percent of them.
The report said that as many as 57 percent were evicted for forest and environment protection, 27.13 percent for infrastructure projects, and 14.31 percent for encroachment removal and beautification projects. The demolition drives were carried out in at least 17 states and three Union Territories. The report said government agencies demolished 62,330 houses and evicted over 331,560 people from January 1, 2021, to July 15, 2022. It added that over 25,800 homes have been demolished, affecting at least 124,450 people in India until July this year. It has cited incidents showing how demolitions were also used as “punitive measures”.
The report said in Punjabi Bagh, the railways demolished 250 homes, in February 2022, to vacate its land of ‘encroachments’. The families have been living at the same site post demolition as they have not been resettled.
“Following the communal violence during the celebrations for the Hindu festivals of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in April 2022 in Madhya Pradesh, 16 houses and 29 shops of Muslim households were demolished in Khargone district, including a house built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing for All) Scheme.
In Madhya Pradesh’s Jirapur Village, after an altercation occurred between the local Muslim and Dalit communities, state authorities demolished 18 homes of Muslim families who were deemed as accused in the incident, it said.a