No coercive action will be taken against slum dwellers : Govt

NEW DELHI, Nov 24:
The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that deliberations on the issue related to removal of around 48,000 slum dwellings along the railway tracks in Delhi were going on and no coercive action would be taken against them.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that he had made a statement before the apex court on September 14 that authorities are going to take a decision on the issue and till then no coercive action would be taken against these slum dwellers.
“The deliberations are going on. We are not taking any coercive steps,” Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
The bench, while taking note of Mehta’s submission, said it would hear the matter after four weeks.
“Solicitor General states that government is deliberating on the issue. Stand over for four weeks,” the bench said.
The top court on August 31 had directed the removal of around 48,000 slum dwellings along the railway tracks in Delhi within three months and said there shall not be any kind of political interference in execution of the plan.
On September 14, Mehta had told the top court that Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Delhi Government are going to take a decision on the issue and till then they will not take any coercive action against the slum dwellers residing along the around 140 km railway tracks in the national capital.
The apex court is hearing the applications, including the one filed by senior Congress leader Ajay Maken who has sought rehabilitation of these slum dwellers prior to their removal.
The application filed by Maken has sought a direction to the Ministry of Railways, Delhi Government and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to rehabilitate the slum dwellers prior to eviction/demolition of their dwellings.
It has also sought direction to the Ministry of Railways, Delhi Government and DUSIB to follow the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015 and the Protocol (for removal of Jhuggis) in letter and spirit.
Referring to the COVID-19 situation in the country, it has said that in these circumstances, it would be highly risky to demolish the hutments/ jhuggis of more than 2,50,000 people without prior rehabilitation as they will be forced to move from place to place in search of shelter and livelihood.
Maken has said in his plea that since the slum dwellers were not parties in the case, either directly or in representative capacity, their stance and the relevant documents could not be brought before this court for its kind consideration.
The Congress leader and co-petitioner Kailash Pandit have said that they are filing the intervention application seeking additional directions for rehabilitation of the affected population prior to their displacement.
On August 31, the top court has directed that the slum dwellings will be removed in a phased manner.
It had also restrained any court from granting any kind of stay with respect to removal of encroachments in the area and said in case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments along railway tracks that shall not be effective.
The top court had said that 70 per cent of the requisite amount shall be borne by the Railways and 30 per cent by the State Government and the manpower be provided by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Railways and agencies available with the Government, free of cost, and they will not charge it from each other.
On February 28, the top court had taken note of “heaps of plastic bags and garbage” lying on both sides of railway lines in outer Delhi region and asked Delhi government, civic bodies and Environment Pollution Control Authority to make a concrete plan for its removal.
This issue had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing matters related to pollution in the Delhi-national capital region. (PTI)