Razing Khori: The people becoming homeless daily
Faridabad: Pawan Kumar had shifted to Khori here in 2011 with his family, from Gopalganj in Bihar. He remembers how a couple of property agents had "tricked" him into purchasing a 100 sq. yard plot, promising the land had all clearances. Soon, he started building his new home and their new lives. He thought the land was legally clean and still cheaper than other areas nearby.
Ten years later, Kumar speaks to Millennium Post, standing beside a pile of rubble that was once his home. As he was constructing his home, several officials of the South Haryana Forest Department, Municipal Corporation of Faridabad and state power department would make regular visits demanding bribes, he said.
This was a time when public agencies were dubiously allowing the flush of new residents in the NCR to build colonies in an area they were aware was protected.
Hundreds are losing their homes, some their first properties and others their businesses almost every other day as Faridabad authorities continue to raze the village of 30,000 on orders of the Supreme Court.
Ten years later, what stings Kumar the most is that all officials he had paid off had promised him that no trouble would come over their homes in the future — and thousands like him believed them.
Having applied for an EWS home under a state government scheme, Pawan now helps others fill applications for rehabilitation and with food and supplies to those who have lost roofs over their heads. Pawan also acknowledged that he was privileged to have the documents the scheme required and said many did not have the same.
However, despite his trust in the process having been decimated, Pawan said he will fight for his rights. His wife and kids are now living with relatives in Gurugram while he arranges for a new home.
Unfortunately, Saurabh Singh is unable to ever hope the government process would help him. An auto driver, Saurabh owes Rs 2 lakh he had borrowed for a new autorickshaw. From Hardoi Uttar Pradesh, Saurabh lives with his wife and two girls, 13 and 10 - both of whom have had to stop schooling due to financial hardships.
He said, "I have lost all hope of how I will come out of this difficult time. I receive sympathies from other residents in Khori but I am not able to come out of my anxiety and worries."
Arifa, unaware of what to do after her home was demolished, has now set up a small tent next to the pile of rocks where her home once stood - raising her son and daughter from there. With incessant rains, however, Arifa and her kids have been able to find people whose homes had not yet been razed.
Sharing Arifa's determination is Lokesh (25) who along with his brother and parents have asserted that they would not leave their house until they are compensated by the Government or given an alternate house. Lokesh presently is unemployed and looking for work in areas of house construction.
With no electricity and water being supplied to houses of Khori the worst sufferers are students who are preparing for competitive examinations. Sapna Kumari (20) who is preparing for her banking competitive examinations has been facing a lot of difficulty in being able to study due to lack of basic facilities.
After Government agencies were forced to act against illegal mining following the Supreme Court order in early 90's, the focus shifted towards setting up of illegal colonies in forest areas of Aravallis of which Khori is one of the largest colonies.
In cahoots with the land mafia, public agencies since 1992 allowed Khori to grow leading to huge settlements of people who had to come to Gurugram and Faridabad for work and to sustain their livelihoods.