Following the Announcement of Privatization of Indian Railways –
Demolition of Slums- Unite and Protest Against the Policy of Selling Railway Land!
On 31 August 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that 48000 slums on railway land in Delhi should be removed within 3 months. It is clear that 48000 slums mean 2.5 to 3 lakh human beings. The verdict was delivered by the Honourable Judge Arun Mishra on the last day of his tenure. The judgment also said that no lower court can grant a stay on it and there can be no political interference.
Forced by all-round protest, the railway spokesperson said in the Supreme Court on 14 September that she would discuss the question of rehabilitation with the Delhi government and the Centre, and thus got 4 weeks of relief.
It is necessary to look at the decision of the Supreme Court in the context of the declaration of privatization of railways. In the name of the pandemic, without bothering about the condition of the people, on one the central government declared a ‘lockdown’ side and got it implemented by the police. And on the other hand, took decisions that had been stalled by people’s movement for years. One of them is the privatization of Indian Railways – the railways that is built with public money. With this decision, railway line and railway land are all declared for sale, now it is up to the government whom to sell and when to sell. In Delhi, at how much high price the railway land can be sold, how much real estate companies can make profit from here and how they are being lured for it, how displacing poor and make Highrise buildings, markets, malls etc. anyone can guess. In the context of this privatization, the Supreme Court’s order to vacate railway land is not a question related to the development of railways, but this land will be sold to rich and it will be used to earn super profit.
What about those who will be displaced? This question is not only about 48000 slums – many people were at native place, many were at work, when the slums were surveyed and this question is for about 5 lakh humans. These slums have been inhabited for decades. Employment is related to the place of residence – many slums are adjacent to industrial areas, women here are domestic workers in nearby colonies, children study in government schools nearby. These families have voter identity card, Aadhaar card and ration card. Many of these families were displaced from elsewhere placed here and have tokens issued by the Delhi administration to prove this. The Railway spokesperson’s statement in the Supreme Court on 14 September that “the line cannot be cleaned” due to human settlements also reflects the government’s hatred towards the workers and the poor and also highlights that for many decades in these settlements Basic civic amenities were not provided at all.
In this era of privatization, there is competition for those seeking ‘rehabilitation’. Why should this land be vacated at all? Railways got the land at a time when a lot of land was vacant. Now people have been living on this land for decades. If the railways have their own development project for which this land is needed and there is no proposal for privatization, then such decision should be made public. There is no such project. The policy of selling this land to the rich, snatching it from the poor, the toilers, the common citizens, is being implemented.
IFTU calls upon all unions, democratic organizations, citizens to demand that both Delhi and the Central Government should get the Supreme Court decision repealed.
We demand that where there are slums, people should be given permanent housing so that they can live a better life. This has been done earlier also in Navjivan Camp and Bhumiheen Camp located near Okhla Industrial Area in South Delhi. The Delhi High Court also imposed several restrictions on the question of demolishing the Shakurbasti camp and this was before the privatization of the railway.
Let us demand to reject the policy of demolishing the poor and workers, selling the land and settling the model and the rich.
Delhi Committee, IFTU