In 2021, Over 100 Houses Demolished Every Day, 24 People Evicted Every Hour, says latest HLRN report
--Press release by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) dated September 21, 2022
Over One lakh People Already Evicted in 2022. Nearly 1 Million People Faced Evictions in India in the Last Five Years.
In 2021, over 36,480 houses were demolished and 2,07,106 people were forcibly evicted across India by governments – at all levels, reveals a new report by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN). The report also finds that in 2022 (January to July), over 25,800 houses have already been demolished affecting 124,450 people across the country.
The report, ‘Forced Evictions in India: 2021’, was released at a press conference in Delhi, today. It presents data and analysis on forced evictions and demolitions of the homes of the rural and urban poor across the country from January to July 2022. The launch of the report was followed by a panel discussion with independent experts, Miloon Kothari (former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing), and Anupradha Singh (human rights lawyer, Lawyer’s Alliance). Testimonies of affected persons from Sultanpuri and Manglapuri, Delhi highlighted the challenges faced due to the demolition of homes.
Key Findings from HLRN’s Report:
IN THE YEAR 2021, ACROSS RURAL AND URBAN INDIA:
- About 36,486 houses were demolished
1) In the past year-and-a-half (1 January 2021 to 15 July 2022), the Indian government—at both the central and state levels—demolished 62,330 houses, evicting over 331,560 persons. The report expresses concern regarding the demolition of homes during the second and third waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
2) ‘Environmental’ projects, which include protection of riverbeds and conservation of forests resulted in the eviction of a majority of people (57 per cent of people) in 2021; Evictions were carried out for a range of other reasons, including:
‘Slum’ clearance/‘encroachment’ removal/‘city beautification’ (14.31 per cent of affected persons);
Infrastructure and purported ‘development’ projects (27.13 per cent of affected persons);
‘Disaster management’ efforts (1.63 per cent of affected persons); and,
Other reasons such as military operations and conflict (0.14 per cent of total population affected).
3) In 2022, HLRN documented a worrying trend of the state demolishing homes as a punitive measure in gross violation of all human rights laws and standards, and disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.
4) In 2021, court orders—including of the Supreme Court of India, state High Courts, and the National Green Tribunal—resulted in the eviction of over 1 lakh persons.
5) At least 28 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.
6) In 2021, the majority of evicted persons (59 per cent) did not receive any rehabilitation from the government.
7) In nearly all documented cases of forced eviction, state authorities have not complied with international human rights standards and guidelines, including the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.
8) All incidents of forced eviction resulted in multiple human rights violations.
9) Nearly 15 million people continue to live under the threat of eviction and displacement across India.
Given the severity and magnitude of this unending eviction and displacement crisis, HLRN proposes the following urgent recommendations to the central and state governments –
1) Need for an immediate moratorium on evictions for any reason;
Forced evictions lead to displacement of families, loss of homes and livelihood, disruption of children’s education, severe impact on health, and physical and psychological trauma among other consequences. It disproportionately affects marginalized communities and divests them from accessing the most basic facilities, essential for a life with dignity. Housing and Land Rights Network hopes that this report will help draw attention to this unending crisis and that the recommendations presented will be implemented to bring about justice and restoration of the human rights of affected persons.
Please click here to access the press release by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) dated September 21, 2022. Kindly click here to access the report titled 'Forced Evictions in India: 2021', which has been prepared by HLRN.
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Press release by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) dated September 23, 2022, https://www.hlrn.org.in/documents/PR__Forced_Evictions_2021.pdf