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�Slum dwellers in Guwahati need to be provided houses�

By City Correspondent

GUWAHATI, March 26 - In Guwahati there is an urgent need for the slum development authority or the department concerned to provide adequate housing facilities to slum dwellers. Unfortunately, the authorities always seem to take a stand to the contrary and they carry out eviction drives in slum areas despite there being provisions to provide houses to these settlers under the Central government scheme. This was stated by Ankit Jha, a member of the organisation Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), here today.

The YUVA has started a initiative named �Zero Eviction Caravan: A Campaign on Right to Adequate Housing� with the aim of creating a nationwide discourse on the right to adequate housing, as well as building strategies to prevent forced evictions across different cities.

As a part of the campaign, a training and capacity building session was held here today among various stakeholders on various topics, like �People demand land rights rather than rehabilitation into housing colonies�, �Development projects in Guwahati and housing for the urban poor�, and �People�s demands for housing in the city and strategies to combat forced evictions�.

Jha alleged that due to lack of notified slums in Assam, especially in Guwahati, implementation of �in-situ rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation� and �Affordable Housing in Partnership� components of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana has not started yet.

He also stated that Guwahati is lagging far behind when it comes to implementation of the Smart City project in comparison of other states of India. �There has been no real progress in the Smart City project in Guwahati. Besides, in case of the Brahmaputra riverfront development project, for instance, there is a possibility that the project would pose a serious threat to the nearby inhabitants and the surrounding environment, as has been the case in some other states,� Jha said.

A YUVA statement added that in Guwahati, the number of informal settlements has gone up to 163. But, though these dwellers have been living in these areas for four to five decades, yet their compulsions are not taken into consideration by the administration. Hence, they face evictions from time to time and their houses are demolished in a very inhumane manner, throwing them literally into the streets. Such a situation prevails as the Assam government does not have a department that can take the responsibility of these settlements.

The statement also pointed out that the right to adequate housing is one of the 30 human rights declared by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)-1948. It was further elaborated in the Article 11.1 of the UN convention on economics, social and cultural rights-1966, to have seven core elements of adequacy. At present, 31.6 percent of the Indian population live in cities, of which around 18 per cent live in informal settlements. With a predicted increase in urban population, housing needs in urban India are expected to increase manifold, it added.

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