5 yrs since eviction, members of Gadia Lohar community still struggle for housing rights
New Delhi: It's been nearly five years since the Gadia Lohar community's eviction in 2017 in Mansarovar Park and many members of the community currently living under the flyover spoke about the issues still faced by them.
According to the 2019 Housing and Land Rights Network report, "Mapping the Marginalized Delhi Gadia Lohar Community", in August 2017, without providing prior notice or compensation for the loss of housing and personal possessions, a settlement of 62 Gadia Lohar families was demolished in Mansarovar Park, Delhi.
Pappu (50), a community member in Mansarovar Park said, "The chief complaint from the community members is garbage mismanagement and the non-availability of dual piping systems for sewage control. Water-logging under the flyover and garbage lead to dengue, malaria and other water-borne diseases which affect the health of our children. We want a permanent road in the colony to prevent these issues."
For education, children either go to angadwadi set up by an NGO near Northern Railway dispensary in Shahdara where they are also provided with study materials and food or attend government schools in Mansarovar Park. Simran (18), a housewife said, "My sister is 7 years old, and I enrolled her for NGO tuitions and got to know from the teacher that many children from our community, including my sister, do not regularly attend classes. I found out that children from our community were getting beaten by children of other community near the tuition area, and the teacher even after knowing did nothing about it. When I tried to re-enroll her, the teacher asked me and my mother to teach her Hindi. We are not educated enough to teach anyone. They have refused to re-admit my sister until and unless she is taught Hindi."
Meanwhile, Kabir, a 17-year-old Class 10 student of the same community said, "We have tried to create permanent houses but everytime they are being demolished by the PWD and the government doesn't provide us with any permanent settlements. So, now we only depend on ply houses. They demolish our houses along with our personal belongings in them, without any prior notice."
However, an official of the MCD said that the government has always provided financial support to the Lohars. "Many families have their own flats they don't like to stay there. Instead, they have put their flats on rent. They like to stay here for availing free electricity, land and water. They save a lot of money by staying here. In reality, they don't like to live in clean permanent settlements provided to them, they like to live in filthy places. We still try our best to keep the place clean. They have also captured many roads," the official said.
According to the 2019 Housing and Land Rights Network report, "Despite being settled in Delhi for several decades, most of the Gadia Lohar settlements have not been surveyed or recognised by the Delhi government or its Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. Consequently, most members of the community are not considered 'eligible' for resettlement or permanent housing under the Delhi Slum and JJ (Jhuggi Jhopri) Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
"The lack of security of tenure has led to several incidents of forced eviction that have violated their right to adequate housing, putting the whole community, especially women and children, at risk."
(With inputs from Sneha Tiwari)