relocation of Nangla Machi, Delhi

when I finished my work project in Delhi last year, I was taken out for lunch by some of the people I worked with. the lunch was really nice, we went to Gurgaon, to a Chinese restuarant. part of the conversation as we were leaving was about how places in Delhi were being rebuilt. I mentioned I'd heard about settlements / villages being torn down and the people relocated to other areas of Delhi, some of them not given new land or payment for their old homes. one of the guys from work said this wasn't true - that the government couldn't take away people's homes without paying them for it or relocating them. so, I was confused then, which was true? here's a few links to articles I've found about it - most are related to the sarai project - Nangla Blog. Nangla Machi was one of the locations used for Sarai's Cybermohalla project prior to it's schedule for demolition.

In Delhi's makeover plans the poor find no place - from Express India

and also New Delhi's facelift pushing away the poor

"Singh is among the hundreds of thousands of slum dwellers displaced over the past year as New Delhi officials set about razing the slums and shantytowns that dot the city after the country's Supreme Court ordered authorities to tear down illegally constructed buildings."

"The idea is to create a showcase capital that matches India's global ambitions. And as has often been the case in recent years in booming India, the visibly poor aren't meant to be a part of the picture."


"That's not to say New Delhi authorities have gone after only the poor in their demolition drive - everything from glitzy malls to grimy shops have been torn down since the court started ordering the demolitions in 2005."

"But those demolitions have sparked repeated protests and an intense public debate. In contrast, few here have taken much notice or raised serious objections to the destruction of at least five sprawling slums and shantytowns and the forced relocation of their inhabitants - no one can say exactly how many people - to isolated patches of land miles (kilometres) from New Delhi."

"Singh, along with her five children and husband, were packed off last August from Nangla Machi, the slum where they lived on the banks of the filthy Yamuna river, to an undeveloped piece of dusty land owned by the government near this village 40 kilometers west of New Delhi."

""In all my life my neighbours had never heard me raise my voice, and now this is what I'm reduced to," Singh said as she was pushed back from her place in the water line."

"In the eyes of the law, Singh's family and thousands of others are now legally resettled. Officials even say they have helped the former slum dwellers by giving them the right to buy handkerchief-size plots of land."

"In reality, most like Singh are now unemployed because their new houses are too far from their old jobs, and even if they wanted to buy the land - which most don't - many could not afford it. So again they squat."

"Singh's misfortune is in many ways a reflection of India's failure to meet the demands of a fast urbanizing country."

"A lack of planning in dozens of Indian cities - from small regional centers to major metropolises, such as New Delhi – coupled with the pressure of a growing population has led in the past few decades to a complete disregard for zoning or building laws."

"The result across India is chaotic and congested urban landscapes, where the poor often squat within view of gleaming glass towers."

I suspect the hurry to relocate areas of Delhi could be related to Delhi hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games and attempting to beautify the city in time for the arrival of overseas visitors.

from the Finances page of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games bid history page

"Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi shall provide additional security; Ministry of Health and CGHS shall provide medical facilities, fire services, traffic services and additional services at customs and immigration. Additional efforts shall be made by the State Government to beautify the City. The flyovers, parks and other infrastructure, will also be upgraded in addition to what has already been envisaged in the Master Development Plan for the city."

and from Channel 4's website :
India's Commonwealth Games quest

"Those who live in Delhi's ubiquitous slums are bracing themselves for their makeover, city authorities have taken to arriving in the middle of the night, knocking down their houses and clearing the way for new roads."

"People would like a world class city with better transport links, reliable electricity and water but only if they can live there."

"Authorities say there will be no litter, beggars or cattle will wander onto the streets in 2010, it doesn't seem sporting but the government wants a fast-tracked future and says nothing will slow it down."

I'm not sure Delhi will be transformed this quickly. And to what extent the impact of the speed of these changes will have on the local people and communities.

some videos of the Nangla Machi residents applying for the paperwork to ensure they are relocated

Art Law Forum notice of Supreme Court order for the demolition of Nangla Machi

"The hon'ble bench stated that the power house, whose land had been
'encroached' by the inhabitants of Nangla had given "some date for
construction", and that there has to be "balance" - that the land has "uses
that cannot be denied", and that the more settlements are removed, the
"more they come". On the question of the timeline for this construction,
the hon'ble bench stated that whatever the case may be, "occupation of land
without legal authority cannot be allowed. Even people whose lands have
legal rights have been relocated" for projects."

"In response to a request on deliberation on the question of cut-off dates
for eligibility for relocation, the hon'ble bench stated, "from what was a
few tenemants" it has grown to "thousands", and "each tenemant had a
family". They have been "growing and growing", that it was becoming
difficult to "deal with the problem". It also stated, during the court
proceedings, that if public land is occupied, it will "have to be vacated",
that the right to shelter did not mean that "everyone be given shelter"."

"On the question of Ghewda being without any infrastructure or facilities
(where the inhabitants of Nangla Maanchi will be temporarily relocated),
the hon'ble bench stated that in Bawana, a resettlement colony, people had
sold off their plots of land. On the question of the difficulty of being on
the streets in this intense heat, the hon'ble bench stated that it is
"never comfortable to live out", that there will always be intense heat, or
cold, or rainfall in the city. The hon'ble bench suggested that people need
not come to Delhi, unless they can afford to live in the city."

the Nangla Blog has many more articles and stories from the people living in Nangla Machi

update 25/08/2010:
related links

Reports from the Nangla Maanchi eviction (Dehli settlement) on

Slums, shops make way for 'world-class' Delhi

Nangla Machi page on cpedia

Commonwealth Games 2010 - Displacement of Persons report (pdf file download link)

- extract from the book, Trickster City via Kafila blog:
[quote]There are few accurate estimates of the mass displacement caused by the 2010 Commonwealth Games; but at least one study by the Hazard Centre, a Delhi-based NGO, suggests that 27,000 families were displaced from the banks of the Yamuna river to make space for this year’s Games; in the past decade, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi relocated almost 52,000 households and demolished even more. Assuming a conservative four people per household, the scale of displacement is staggering.[/quote]