Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Over 7 lakh people rendered homeless in last two years: Report

Photo from Nuh, Haryana.

In the last two years (1 January 2022 to 31 December 2023), over 1.5 lakh houses were demolished by state authorities in India—at the central, state, and local levels—thereby, resulting in the forceful eviction of over 7.4 lakh people from their homes, Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) claimed in a new report released a new report.

According to the report, titled “Forced Evictions in India: 2022 & 2023”, at least 294 houses were destroyed daily, and 58 people were evicted every hour in 2023. The report highlighted the unmitigated crisis of forced evictions in India and presented data and analysis on this persisting issue for the years 2022 and 2023.

In 2023, data indicates that demolitions occurred at an unprecedented pace and magnitude, leading to the forced eviction of at least 515,752 (5 lakh) people across the country and the destruction of over 107,449 (1 lakh) homes.

This is the highest recorded annual figure in the last seven years since HLRN began publishing this series of reports.

“The alarming figures presented in the report are a conservative estimate of the actual scale of the national eviction crisis, as they only reflect cases known to HLRN. The total number of people evicted from their homes, as well as those under risk of eviction in India, therefore, is likely to be much higher,” reads the presser from HRLN.

In 2022 and 2023, the highest percentage of people (58.7 per cent) – were evicted under the guise of ‘slum’ clearance/‘encroachment’ removal/‘city beautification’ initiative.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi recorded the most incidents of evictions (78) in 2022 and 2023. In 2023, around 2.8 lakh people were evicted by various state authorities in Delhi, the highest in any location in India in the year.

In 2022 and 2023, court orders—including those of the Supreme Court of India, state High Courts, and the National Green Tribunal—resulted in the eviction of over 2.9 lakh persons.

In both years, at least 31 per cent of affected persons, where information is available, belong to historically marginalized groups, including, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, nomadic communities, migrant workers, and religious minorities.

HRLN also estimates that nearly 17 million people continue to live under the threat of eviction and displacement across India, for various reasons.

The group also made some recommendations including “an immediate moratorium on evictions for any reason”.

“Recognize and list all informal settlements as legitimate clusters of housing to remove connotations of ‘illegality’ and ‘encroachment’, that adversely affects the residents and results in forced evictions,” it said among other suggestions.

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