Kicking off its “Ghar Bachao, BJP Hatao” campaign, AAP ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj Sunday visited the BR Camp behind Race Course and Safdarjung JJ colony, where residents have received eviction notices.
At the JJ colony behind the Safdarjung Flying Club, residents said they received a notice from the Northern Railways on November 30 last year, saying their homes were built on government land and they had to vacate in 15 days.
According to Mahinder (30), a resident of the colony, the matter for permanent settlement has been pending in the High Court since 2018 and they had stay orders from the court to maintain the status quo. “They (railway authorities) showed up with bulldozers on December 15 and when we showed them the court orders, they told us they’ll demolish our houses anyway,” he alleged.
Residents claimed they ran from pillar to post seeking help. “It is only because politicians could push our cause through that we could get another stay order from the HC on the evening of December 15,” said Mahinder.
Bharadwaj, who is the Urban Development minister, during his visit to the colony, said, “Agencies such as the Railways, DDA, ASI, and L&DO are conspiring to demolish JJ colonies on their lands.”
The issue of demolitions has become a political hot potato, with both AAP and BJP blaming the other for a large number of JJ colonies being removed over the past two months. Since the action comes before the Lok Sabha elections, AAP and BJP leaders are seeking to distance themselves, with AAP launching a campaign against demolition. That land in Delhi is a matter that comes under the Centre is something AAP is making sure is known.
As he met people, Bharadwaj said that old JJ colonies have been identified and listed by the Delhi government and this list has been shared with the Supreme Court. “These clusters are so old that based on law, you cannot remove them. First, the government must make in-situ housing for residents. After everyone has shifted, only then can the government demolish the area,” he said.
Atishi, who also holds the PWD portfolio, alleged that despite pre-election promises of providing homes in the same locations, the Delhi Development Authority, under the BJP’s influence, intends to relocate slum dwellers 50 km away to Narela and Kakrola. Accusing the BJP of deceptive practices, she stated, “Before elections, BJP pledges houses in existing locations, but post-elections, promises crumble.”
BJP Delhi secretary, Bansuri Swaraj, meanwhile, said AAP was responsible for the plight of people. “The Chief Minister will have to answer what his government has done in the last nine years to provide houses to the poor. If he had allowed the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to be implemented in Delhi, perhaps no poor person would have had to live in a slum today,” she said.