Lokayukta after LDA to bulldoze our houses: Slum-dwellers
LUCKNOW: The slum-dwellers of Gandhi Nagar basti living near Lohiya hospital staged a demonstration on Thursday against Lokayukta’s alleged involvement in pressurizing Lucknow Development Authority to bulldoze their slum dwellings in Gomtinagar area.
More than 200 families live in the slum located in the vicinity of Lokayukta’s office in Vibhuti Khand, Gomtinagar. Locals claim that Lokayukta NK Mehrotra wants removal of the slum as he cannot bear the sight of slum dwellers living next to his office. Babu Pandit, a resident leading the agitation, accused Mehrotra of pressurizing the DM and LDA to bulldoze the slum. He claimed that the LDA (owner of the land) has sent them notices twice last week to leave the land by December 19 or else the slum would be demolished. “Our families have been living here for 15 years and we are now being pressurized to vacate our homes,” he said.
The charges were strongly refuted by the Lokayukta who claimed that he never pressurized anyone to evict the slum dwellers. “As Lokayukta, I can always question LDA officials’ inability to remove encroachments from the city. I had got several complaints from people living nearby about encroachment on LDA land. I called upon LDA’s VC, MP Agarwal last week to ask him why he has not been able to remove encroachments from Gomtinagar. Whether they do it or not is their call, but I always have the right to ask for an action from an official,” said Mehrotra. He also claimed that slum dwellers are being misguided by some police officials and NGOs who are taking money from them to give them protection. He said, “If NGOs are really worried about their accommodation, why aren’t they asking the government to provide them houses soon? Is it fair to allow encroachment in city just because of vested interests of a few people who project themselves to be the saviors of the poor?”
Activist Sandeep Pandey who is assisting slum dwellers said that they are trying to buy some time from LDA for rehabilitation under the urban poor housing schemes of the government. While LDA was given the task to carry out a survey of the slum, District Urban Development Agency had to allot houses to these families based on the survey, he claimed.
Meanwhile, DM Anurag Yadav denied any orders to evict the slum dwellers. “I have not received any request from LDA to provide assistance in removing the slum near Lokayukta office so far. It is LDA’s land and only it can decide to bulldoze it or not,” he said. LDA VC MP Agarwal and executive engineer of Zone-1 (includes Gomtinagar), DC Srivastava were not available for comments.