Illegal Demolition in Baljeet Nagar:
Since the late 1980s the Government of Delhi has initiated a surge of demolitions and forced evictions under the justification of “slum up-gradation” and “city beautification.” However, this crusade is taking place at an alarmingly high cost to Delhi’s residents; thousands of whom have lost their houses and property and been rendered homeless. These losses are a result of massive eviction drives central to the Delhi Government’s aspiration to develop a “world class city”; a city which sadly has no place for the urban poor. For example, in the run up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Government displaced over 200,000 persons by demolishing entire settlements, clearing out large areas, and deporting slum dwellers and homeless citizens away from the city centre and thus from the sight of international media and foreign visitors.
Meanwhile resettlement colonies, when and if provided, boast grossly inadequate conditions with no sewage systems, electricity, or garbage collection and located unrealistic distances from public services such as hospitals and schools. Factors such as residents’ access to health facilities, schools, public transport and workplace are patently disregarded. Despite existing policies and regulations, coupled with strong domestic jurisprudence and international law obligations, most evictions take place illegally and rights of the poor are trampled on.
Sukti Dhital is Executive Director and co-founder of Nazdeek. She is a human rights lawyer, with several years experience litigating on behalf of marginalised communities. Sukti was the Director of the Reproductive Rights Unit at the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and assisted in securing landmark judgments on access to maternal health care, nutrition, and housing including Laxmi Mandal v. Deen Dayal Harinagar Hospital & ORS, W.P.(C) 8853/2008, the first decision in the world to recognize maternal mortality as a human rights violation and award constitutional damages. She has also worked at the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project where she provided legal and policy support on a range of issues including medical care provided to women in custodial settings, and as a litigation associate at the firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP. There she assisted on appellate matters including multiple cases before the United States Supreme Court. Sukti received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law. She was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, resides in New Delhi and New York City.