New Delhi: A demolition drive was carried out by the Public Works Department (PWD) on Saturday to remove slums near the Dhaula Kuan flyover, leaving hundreds of people homeless.
While the slum-dwellers claimed that they had been living there for 30 years, the authorities alleged that the slums were illegal and that residents had been served several notices in the past to vacate the site. A PWD official said, “These slums were falling under the Dhaula Kuan flyover for years and were not even notified clusters. We served them notices several times and they moved the Delhi High Court thrice.” He said following the court’s direction, the drive was stopped due to school exams and it was carried out after everything was over.
In the early hours of Saturday, PWD officials along with the police force reached the spot and asked people to vacate the slums before starting the demolition. While some were able to save their belongings, many were not at home during the action. “As soon as we got the information, we immediately went to the local MLA for help. We have been living here for the last 30 years and it is unfair to remove us. Where will we go?” asked a resident.
In December too, the PWD had served the notice, but former PWD minister Manish Sisodia directed the order to be withdrawn immediately, saying it was “inhuman” to do so at the peak of winter and without making alternative arrangements for the residents.
While residents alleged that the drive was part of the G20 beautification projects, PWD officials denied the allegation and said it was part of a drive to remove encroachments against non-notified and illegal slums.
Ahead of the G20 summit in the capital, the PWD is renovating the area around Dhaula Kuan as it connects to the airport.