The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On the street for a home
- Sit-in for roof above their heads

March 26: Hundreds of people affected by the eviction drive of the railways today took to the streets to seek rehabilitation. The Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway launched the eviction drive on February 26 to demolish unauthorised construction adjoining railway quarters.

The protesters staged a sit-in at Dispur this morning supported by the Guwahati Mahanagar Unnayan Samity, a voluntary organisation.

They also submitted a memorandum to chief minister Tarun Gogoi demanding help from the government for their rehabilitation. The protesters, holding placards, shouted slogans against the eviction drive and demanded rehabilitation.

The president of the samity, Subodh Sharma, said nearly 1,000 people, particularly from the lowest income group of society, lost their homes in the recent eviction drive launched by the railway in its colonies near Guwahati railway station.

Describing the drive as “inhuman”, he said after being evicted these families were forced to spend the night on pavements, railway platforms and bus stops.

“Their worries have been aggravated because of unseasonal rain. We have organised today’s sit-in to draw the government’s attention towards the plight of these hapless people,” he said.

Sharma said most of the affected people are daily wage earners, including Harijans and construction workers. The government must take steps to provide them with accommodation on humanitarian ground.

“We have urged the government to make some temporary arrangement for them till the problem is resolved. The state government should construct houses for them under central-sponsored schemes, including projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and slum development plans,” he said.

The members of the samity plan to meet Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Prateek Hajela with a request to identify a vacant plot for temporary accommodation of the affected families.

Sharma said most of these families lived in unauthorised constructions in the railway colony because they could not afford to purchase a house. Moreover, nobody would rent out houses to the safair karmacharis and Harijans, he added.

The railway started the eviction drive to bring down unauthorised constructions, as they have become a security threat. During the drive, a large number of illegal constructions made along the railway quarters were demolished. The now displaced families lived in these illegal constructions which were rented out by railway employees.

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