An impending demolition drive is causing anxiety among residents of jhuggi jhopris in south Delhi’s Mehrauli Archaeological Park
In the jam-packed neighbourhood of south Delhi, the jhuggi jhopri (JJ), or slum, dwellers of Mehrauli Archaeological Park stare at an uncertain future after hundreds of them were served eviction notices by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 12, 2022.
The residents have been asked to vacate their homes, built on the government land.1
“We registered our houses here; many residents even sold theirs. These activities were allowed and in official knowledge; the staff responsible for these transactions should be taken to task first,” rued Aash Mohammad Khan, a retired MCD safai karamchari, who has spent his life here.
“Where were the authorities when the houses and sheds were being built? How can they raze them now?” he said in a burst of emotions. “ Ghonsla ghonsla hota hai, chahe woh ameero ka ho ya garibo ka (a nest is a nest, whether it belongs to the rich or the poor),” he added.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park is one of the largest archaeological parks in the country, and comprises over 100 significant heritage structures and archaeological remains, monuments, graveyards and mosques.
Several litigations on removal of encroachments have been fought over the years to protect its heritage structures, ownership of certain plots of land and concerns of its existing inhabitants.