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No place for them in ‘Smart City’ Dharamshala

Sanjeev Kumar | Shimla |

Mute witness to development of Dharamshala, an undeclared second capital of Himachal Pradesh, for over three decades now, the slum dwellers of Charan Khad  were forced out of their houses after the city’s inclusion in Central government’s ‘Smart City’ project.
Alleging the human rights violation by the Municipal Corporation Dharamshala (MCD), the affected slum dwellers staged a protest in the city, demanding rehabilitation for families displaced earlier this year.
“It has been six months since we were displaced by MCD on the promise of resettlement and since then we had approached all concerned authorities for rehabilitation. But no concrete action has been taken so far,” said Ramesh Charan, who was among the evicted along with family of six members.
Charan who works as cobler and now had shifted to Mcleodganj, said, “I used reside at Charan Khad along with my four sons, one of whom is now working as Ward boy at a Gurugram hospital but now we have nowhere to go.”
It was on June 17, 2016 when the MCD forcibly evicted around 1500 migrant workers from the Charan Khad slums in the city where they had been living for over 30 years. The slum dwellers were evicted by MCD because of open defecation, an issue that could have been addressed simply by providing sanitation facilities.
Speaking to The Statesman, Manshi Asher of Himdhara NGO who is fighting for the rehabilitation of migrant workers, said the eviction was carried out to facilitate the Dharamsala ‘Smart City’ project, a central government urban development program being carried out with support from the United Nations Development Project (UNDP). “No rehabilitation was provided by the MCD, leaving about 300 children, pregnant women and the differently-abled vulnerable during the monsoons,” she said.
The demolitions have left 1500 people vulnerable because of a central government project that proposes to provide better facilities for the common man. 
Of the displaced 291 families belonging to Rajasthan and Maharashtra, 115 have applied for housing under PMAY, a central government scheme to provide rehabilitation to slum dwellers through private participation that are probably to be ready only after a year. He refused to answer queries about where those left homeless should live in the meanwhile and suggested the matter be taken up with the DMC. 
“We have also written to National Human Rights Commission which had sought report from state government on the issue. All affected families have also met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh but they were only given assurances,” she added.