THE DELHI Government’s Commonwealth Games clean-up drive will target humans and animals alike: rats, snakes, dogs, beggars and slum and pavement dwellers are all in the same leaky boat. The cost of relocating beggars and the displaced — numbering between 60,000 and 1,20,000, depending on whose estimate you’re going by — could be anything from Rs 150 crore to Rs 300 crore.
According to Dunu Roy, director of Hazards Centre, a Delhi-based non-profit group, nearly 200,000 Delhi residents were evicted between 2003 and 2008 for CWG2010 — the largest sporting event that India will host.
“Most evictions were carried out to construct flyovers and parking lots and only a third of the evicted families were resettled,” says Roy. “The government wants to throw out these people, including vendors and rickshaw-pullers, so that the real estate sector can get cheap labour. It has promised flats for the evicted, and Rs 2.75 lakh per family. But be sure: not more than a fourth of them will be housed.”
Shalini Mishra of the Delhi-based NGO Habitat International Coalition, which released a report on the impact of the games, is equally critical. “In the name of beautifying Delhi, 44 more slums will be demolished and 30,000 to 40,000 families displaced. They aren’t disclosing how many will be rehabilitated,” rues Mishra. The Habitat report estimates that the games will involve “repatriation” of some 1,20,000 beggars to their “parent states”. “Homeless citizens are being held and arbitrarily detained under the Bombay Prevention of Beggary Act, 1959,” it alleges.