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Thursday, Oct 14, 2010
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NEW DELHI: Even as the nation applauds India's winning spree at the Commonwealth Games being held in the Capital, a study by Housing and Land Rights Network says that human rights violations of the city's working poor, including the homeless, beggars, street vendors, and construction workers in the name of the Games cannot be forgotten.
According to the Network, forced eviction and demolition of thousands of Delhi residents' homes took place for reasons like constructing stadiums, building parking lots, widening roads, city “beautification”, and clearing of streets on grounds of “security”.
The study focused on forced evictions carried out in Delhi because of the Games and found that at least 250,000 people in the city lost their homes as a direct result of the Games since 2004. Preliminary findings of the ongoing study suggest that the due process for demolition of homes in various parts of the city was not followed, in addition to police presence and use of force, injury and adverse health effects, loss and destruction of possessions, adverse effects on children, death, loss of livelihood and income and no compensation or resettlement offered to the evictees.
The study revealed that many of these evictions were carried out in extreme weather or at night, like the one at Bengali Camp in January 2009 during the winter festival Lohri. Several children were forced to drop out of school or lose a year because the demolitions happened immediately before or during examination time. Two homeless persons died at Pusa Road roundabout when their night shelters were demolished in December 2009.
According to the Network, forced evictions carried out in the run-up to the Games violate national and international legal instruments including breach of United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement which stipulate that evictions must not take place in severe weather, at night, during festivals or religious holidays, prior to elections or during or just prior to school examinations. The UN guidelines call for States to ensure that no one is subject to direct or indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence and also mandate just compensation and alternative accommodation.
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