'They forced us to leave, destroyed our huts': Hyd slum dwellers speak up on Zero Evictions Day

Over 500 slum residents from Hyderabad participated in the gathering to advocate against forcible evictions and rehabilitation of slum communities.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  16 Oct 2022 11:54 AM GMT
They forced us to leave, destroyed our huts: Hyd slum dwellers speak up on Zero Evictions Day

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Slum People's Federation in collaboration with the Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights (CHATRI), Working People's Coalition (WPC), and International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI) celebrated "Zero Evictions Day" with a public meeting on 16 October. The public meeting was held at the slum of Vaddera Basti in Moosarambagh.

Over 500 slum residents from Hyderabad participated in the gathering to advocate against forcible evictions and rehabilitation of slum communities. They pushed for a policy of zero evictions by local governments. Many of the participants were victims of forced evictions themselves.

"The slum residents are a part of the Hyderabad Slum People's Federation which is a network of over 80 slums in Hyderabad city that campaigns for the rights of its communities ranging from decent housing and access to the city's resources," explained A. Hyma, who coordinates the activities of the Federation.

The Federation was joined by several activists and leading figures active in human rights struggles in Hyderabad, particularly in advocating for housing as a human right for all. They included Varghese Theckanath (WPC/IAI/MSI), Sajaya Karkaria (W and TG Joint Action Committee), Jeevan Kumar (Human Rights Forum), Padmaja Shaw (retired professor), Indira (Rainbow Homes), Khaleda Parveen (Amoomat Society), and Meera Sanghamitra (NAPM).

The Federation demanded zero evictions in Hyderabad, the allotment of housing with all facilities for residents of Teegalaguda, resettlement of slums along the Musi buffer zone within 2-3 kms of the current location, fair and transparent allotment of 2BHK housing, and allotment of 20% of residential areas to unorganised workers in the master plan.

"The location of the event, Vaddera Basti in Moosarambagh, was significant," explained Vivek Joseph, who works with the garbage collectors in the slum. "It was here and in the nearby slum of Teegalaguda that over 360 families faced forced evictions and rehabilitation in March this year," he said.

"No one told us that we were going to be moved out until the very day," said E. Thirupattamma, a resident of Teegalaguda forced to move to Munganoor. "They gave us our pattas and forced us to leave immediately with our belongings. As soon as we left, they destroyed our huts," she added.

Though allotted government housing in a JNNURM Housing Colony 20 km away near the village of Munaganoor, their situation worsened.

"When we reached there, we found that we had no access to water, electricity, and transport. There are no schools and no health facilities nearby," said Neelamma, a former resident of Teegalaguda who was allotted a house in Munganoor.

"Worst of all is that we cannot find any work around. We are mostly domestic workers and daily-wage laborers. Our livelihoods have completely disappeared in this isolated place. They have sent us here to starve," she added.

"In March, the government only allotted houses to 140 families from our slum. Even after another 70 families were granted housing a few months later, because of civil society organisations, over 50 families are still left stranded on the road with nowhere to go," pointed out another slum dweller in the city.

"Many of the people gathered here come from slums that have been allotted housing under the Telangana government's 2BHK Dignity Housing scheme, yet they have seen the process of actually getting their houses stalled due to inefficiency, lack of transparency in the allotment process, and legal issues," said Varghese Theckanath of CHATRI.

Jeevan Kumar of the Human Rights Forum added, "Learning from Dr. B.R Ambedkar, our struggle must ultimately be one for self-respect and dignity for all, regardless of background, because these are our irrefutable rights as human beings."

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