Nearly 15 million people continue to live under the threat of eviction and displacement across India.
In 2021, over 36,480 houses were demolished and 207,106 people were forcibly evicted across India by governments, 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’ 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.
Some of the key findings from HLRN’s Report revealed that 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.
“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,” stated the report.
The report stated that evictions were carried out for a range of other reasons, including slum clearance, encroachment removal, city beautification (14.31 per cent of affected persons) and others.
According to HLRN, in 2021, the majority of evicted persons (59 per cent) did not receive any rehabilitation from the government.
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, stated HLRN.