Patna floods: As common people struggle with a civic crisis, Nitish govt demolishes slums

Over 250 slum dwellers near Haj Bhawan, Patna were shocked when their houses were demolished without any prior notice on Oct 1 while they were still trying to survive the rains and water logging

NH Photo by Zahib Ajmal
NH Photo by Zahib Ajmal

Zaheeb Ajmal

After witnessing the worst civic crisis Patna, the state capital of Bihar has ever faced, the world came crashing down on the slum dwellers in several areas. At a time when many of them were still figuring out how to save their family and themselves from the fury of rains and waterlogging, the Nitish government had something else planned for them.

On October 1, over 250 slum dwellers near Haj Bhawan were in for a shock when their houses were demolished without any prior notice. The demolition took place after the residents of the slums had moved to the nearby road as their houses were submerged due to incessant rain. They haven’t received any relief material from the government or any organisation.

During the demolition process, a 27-year-old Khushbu Devi got stuck in her house with a two and a half-month-old baby. Later, she was rescued with the help of local people.

One of the local resident Rajesh lamented, “No one is listening to our woes, sympathising with our plight, there was no prior notice served to us. Earlier we used to live where there is an Eco park now, but the government demolished our houses there. We were then settled at this place and now we are being removed from here. Where should we go?”

An old lady who is also a resident of the slum said, “We don’t have any house, we are homeless if the government can’t provide us with a house, where we will go?”

The residents have shifted their tents to the footpath in front of Haj Bhawan.

Something similar happened to slum dwellers in Buddha Colony, Patna when on September 30, without any prior notice, officials arrived at 11 am in the morning for the demolition drive. The residents whose houses were submerged in the water stopped them and requested them to consider their plight and that they had nowhere else to go in a city which was struggling to survive in huge rains. When the residents stood in unison and demanded that demolition should be stopped, the officials agreed and assured them that the demolition won’t take place. But later at around 12 in the night, the demolition drive was carried out and over 100 slum dwellers were left homeless.

Patna floods: As common people struggle with a civic crisis, Nitish govt demolishes slums
Patna floods: As common people struggle with a civic crisis, Nitish govt demolishes slums
Patna floods: As common people struggle with a civic crisis, Nitish govt demolishes slums
Patna floods: As common people struggle with a civic crisis, Nitish govt demolishes slums

National Herald tried speaking to the District Magistrate of Patna but there has been no response from his side. We dropped an email too and requested him to respond by afternoon but we have not received a response as yet.

While talking to the National Herald, Shakil Ahmad Khan, Member of Legislative Assembly, Kadwa said whenever any government displaces poor people from their homes, there should be alternative accommodation provided to them before the displacement is carried out.

“They also belong to this country and are its residents, where will they go? If you are not providing them with alternative support, then it’s a crime. I have seen this especially in Patna there is no discussion anywhere among parties and civil societies on where these poor people will go. I am going to raise this issue in the next session of Bihar assembly,” he added.

Khan said he tried to intervene but, “I tried contacting the Urban Development Minister but he did not speak to me, neither did the DM. No one talks to you here," he said.

Rupesh of Koshish Charitable Trust said to NH, “Whatever the government is doing is illegal and it's always the poor who suffer. The government should first serve notice and then all the legal process should be followed before carrying out these activities. Government and media are now hand in glove and are misleading the people. Media persons met the slum dwellers and said that the government has assured that there will be no demolition but later on the demolition was carried out. The government is answerable to the people.”

Speaking to NH, Saurabh, a social worker said, “When people have no food to eat, the government is demolishing their houses! First, rehabilitate and then demolish is the process the government should follow. I also request to the government of Bihar that at least till the ongoing crisis in Patna, the demolition process should stop immediately.”

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Published: 03 Oct 2019, 1:50 PM