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Delhi Development Authority issues notice to Hindu refugees from Pakistan living in Yamuna floodplain area to vacate the place, action after NGT order

The notice says that the families can relocate to alternate places as per the suggestions of the Delhi High Court. DDA cited a National Green Tribunal order in 2015 saying that the Yamuna Flood Plain area under the DDA must be made free from all encroachment.

A matter of removal of unlawful encroachment close to Majnu Ka Tilla in the national capital has surfaced recently. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has asked that residents of the slums around the Yamuna River relocate under the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directive. Notably, several of these families comprise Pakistani Hindus who have come to India to protect their lives. They received the official notification on 4th March.

The notice says that the families can relocate to alternate places as per the suggestions of the Delhi High Court. DDA cited a National Green Tribunal order in 2015 saying that the Yamuna Flood Plain area under the DDA must be made free from all encroachment.

The notice stated, “In compliance with the order, it is proposed to organise a demolition drive against the encroachment in the Yamuna floodplain area near south of Gurudwara Majnu Ka Tilla (western bank) on March 7 and 8.” As per the decision of the National Green Tribunal, a Delhi Development Authority official verified the schedule for a demolition effort intended to eradicate the intrusion on the 7th and 8th of March. Sources claimed that the postponement was brought on by the unavailability of police forces.

It added, “Hence, the residence of the area is hereby requested to vacant the area by Wednesday. Otherwise, they will be self-responsible for any loss held due to any demolition drive against the encroachment on Thursday or later.”  

As per the notice, the people living in the area can relocate to three night shelters on temporary basis in Delhi, at Geeta Colony, Dwarka Sector 1 and Dwarka Sector 3.

This place has served as a home to these people for a long time. However, the recent development has raised questions about their future survival. There is also a Gurdwara in the area. There have been claims made during the court proceedings that Gurdwara’s southern region is being illegally occupied.

According to the information, the whole matter was raised before the National Green Tribunal by a person named Jagdev. His legal heir Vinayak Khatri is currently battling the lawsuit following his passing. The report revealed that there are three main reasons behind the complaint including incursion on the Yamuna bank in the southern vicinity of the Gurdwara near Majnu Ka Tilla.

Another reason is deforestation on a large scale which is altering the region’s environment, flooding plains and destroying the integrity of the Yamuna River system. Furthermore, the slum inhabitants have placed their makeshift stalls around the outer ring road which leads to traffic bottlenecks and whatever dirt or trash is left behind is thrown into the Yamuna River which is a component of the green belt.

Source: OpIndia Hindi

National Green Tribunal’s order

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has provided information regarding the National Green Tribunal’s instructions on the issue. The Delhi Development Authority presented a case report to the National Green Tribunal in 2019 according to the orders it received and the findings acknowledged the existence of illicit possession. It was reported that Pakistani Hindus are residing in these locations and they continue to remain in the country after their visas have expired. Additionally, it was also informed that the central government was considering to extend their stay.

Source: OpIndia Hindi

The National Green Tribunal, however, alleged that the matter is for consideration before the tribunal but the concern is about the preservation of the Yamuna River plains, forest trees and other environmental elements. Invasion of river flood plains cannot be allowed as such occupation may cause damage. According to the body’s regulations, trees, forests and the environment should be protected and encroachment should be eliminated from the flood plain close to the river.

It designated the Delhi Development Authority as the nodal agency for this entire case in a decision that was released on 30th July 2019. It has since written notices to everyone who is doing construction on the land, including the Hindu families from Pakistan.

Families are faced with the problem of livelihood

According to media reports, plans are in motion and arrangements have been made to shift them to shelters. However, the 160 families who have been living in India for so many years are still not permanent citizens of the country. This country is different for them where they arrived in need of assistance and began working as soon as they found a spot.

Therefore, their livelihood and other things will be impacted when they move. These people presently work around Majnu Ka Tilla or set up stalls to make a living. They would encounter the same challenges they endured after travelling to India to cater for their family if they resettled. Preparations are underway to bring them from Majnu ka Tilla and grant them shelter in Block 10, Gurdwara Geeta Colony, Dwarka Sector-3, Phase-1, Dwarka Sector-1.

The Delhi government and the Delhi Development Authority were directed by the National Green Tribunal to settle the issue of unlawful occupation on the Yamuna floodplain near Majnu Ka Tilla Gurudwara in a previous order from November 2019. The Delhi Development Authority was ordered by the National Green Tribunal on 29th January of this year to pay Rs 25,000 and to submit an action taken report detailing the encroachment that was removed within four weeks. It further stated that if the report is not turned in by the deadline, the vice-chairman of the authority must appear in person before the tribunal on 3rd April.

The plight of Pakistani Hindus

The occupants stated that they had been living there for more than ten years and would not move even to the three DUSIB shelters that were recommended in the eviction notice. Due to religious persecution in their home country, over 180 families who had travelled to India from Hyderabad, Pakistan in 2011 on tourist visas for the Kumbh in Haridwar decided not to return. At present, Majnu Ka Tilla is listed as their permanent address on a few of their Aadhaar cards. Some people struggle to obtain employment because they lack citizenship or residency paperwork. They work odd jobs to make ends meet or own tiny sidewalk stores.

“My husband and I are uneducated but we still managed to get our children admitted in schools here. My daughter is studying law. If we are shifted, my children’s studies will be affected and their chances of a better future will be hit,” expressed a Pakistani Hindu woman named Laxmi. The community’s residents complained that not many services were provided. The only water supply is a standard tap.

“Some mobile toilets were placed here but most of them were in any case not cleaned or not functional. We had to make our own arrangements for toilets,” pointed out Sita who arrived from Tando Allahyar in Pakistan in 2013 and her husband is employed in a nearby temple.

Sona Das, a Hindu immigrant from Pakistan responded to the notice by expressing worry over the brief notice period given for evacuation. She complained about the absence of substitute lodging provided by the administration, acknowledging their struggle in Pakistan. Affected families were advised to seek temporary shelter at Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) facilities.

“We have been given time to vacate this area as soon as possible. The whole camp has been informed and notices have been served to all of us. We just recovered from the losses we faced during the Delhi floods and now they are about to run a bulldozer here. How are people supposed to vacate on such short notice and where are they supposed to go,” she asked. “We haven’t been offered any alternate place, although some of them have been offered to move them to shelter homes. If they want us to vacate, they should give us an alternate option and ample time to move. My family and I moved from Pakistan to India in 2011 for some relief and now, we are facing similar problems here too,” she mentioned.

“We were informed just yesterday that demolition will take place here. Some officials came here on Tuesday and pasted notices outside our houses. Almost all of them in this area received notice on Tuesday night. Nobody vacated their houses yet,” voiced another Pakistani Hindu Kanhaiya Lal who resides at Majnu Ka Tilla. More than 800 members of the community members have petitioned the government to provide them with an alternate home site with the necessary amenities.

Sonadas, who informed that he was the pradhan (chief) stated that the locals had approached the area representatives following the Delhi Development Authority’s notices. “We went to the MP and other political leaders for help. The only reason we kept on extending our tourist visa and staying here was because we felt we were part of this nation. When the current govt is doing so much for Hindus, they should also think about us, Hindu refugees, too. We have big families and shifting to homeless shelters isn’t at all feasible.”

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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