Shri Piyush Goyal ji,

Namaskar. This is with reference to the Supreme Court judgement of August 31 directing removal of all jhuggi clusters on railway land adjacent to railway tracks within three months.  You are no doubt aware that the Delhi High Court in its judgement last year had directed that arrangements for rehabilitation must be made in the event of relocation being required. It appears that since the jhuggi dwellers were not made parties before the Supreme Court, the bench may not have been aware of this Delhi High Court judgement otherwise it is difficult to understand how a three member bench of the apex court could have given such an inhuman judgement, that too at a time of the pandemic.

In any case as the Minister for Railways you have the authority to ensure that jhuggi dwellers are ensured relocation and rehabilitation before the order is implemented. According to estimates given before the Court, approximately 48,000 jhuggi dwellers are to be evicted which means between 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh people including women and children. At the time of the pandemic, this will lead to a health disaster putting substantial numbers at grave risk. You are no doubt aware that at present Delhi is grappling with a second wave of the spread of the Covid -19. It will be highly irresponsible of the Railway Ministry to evict people at this time. Secondly because of the lockdown, jhuggi dwellers have faced a huge drop in their meagre income and are already suffering. At such a time to turn them into homeless citizens would be an unconscionable act. You are also aware of the various national housing related policy frameworks adopted from time to time which promote in situ rehabilitation of slum dwellers with relocation as the last resort. In this case there is neither in situ development being thought of as an option nor even relocation.

I would request you to intervene to prevent eviction without relocation, rehabilitation and compensation. People, families are not homeless or do not live in jhuggis out of choice but because of policies of successive central Governments which have pushed them to the margins. The right to a home is a basic human right, not charity.

Brinda Karat