While the Hockey World Cup 2018 was kicked off with much aplomb, 2000 people evicted for the expansion and beautification of the venue of the tournament continue to live in deplorable conditions.
This November, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha’s state capital hosted the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018. In the lead up to the tournament in July 2018, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and police, evicted 2000 residents for the expansion and beautification of the Kalinga Stadium, the venue for the tournament. This included 320 households from Janganth Basti who were evicted in July 2018.
According to government officials, this eviction drive was carried out because the slums were causing ‘impediment’ in the development of Kalinga Stadium, where the Hockey World Cup was set to take place. The dwellers of Janganath Basti were left with no choice but to see their houses rammed by bulldozers. When opposed the dwellers were assured by BMC and BDA officials that they will be rehabilitated and will be given land at Pandakudia, including financial aid of thirty five thousand and additional amount of eight thousand for toilet and sanitation. After few days, the families were relocated and were only given polythene sheets as a temporary cover.
Eviction and demolition of homes of rural and urban poor in the name of ‘city beautification’ and ‘development projects’ is rampant. While there are no comprehensive records with government of people displaced by development projects or forcefully evicted, the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has been monitoring forced evictions to raise awareness of the issue and promote an adequate state response.
According to a report by HLRN, in 2017, government authorities at both state and central levels demolished over 53,700 homes, forcefully evicting at least 260,000 people across the country. This means that the state demolished at least 147 homes every day or 6 homes every hour. This is not just startling but also ironic given the government’s target of ensuring ‘housing for all’ by the year 2022. According to the HLRN report, at least 600,000 more people are living with the threat of eviction. The actual number of people evicted is likely to be even higher.
It has been 5 months since the residents of Jangannath Basti were evicted but no government authority has paid heed to their plight. While the government spent crores on kicking off the Hockey World Cup 2018 with much aplomb, the 2000 people evicted for the expansion and beautification of the venue of the tournament continue to live under the the open sky, without roads, water, sanitation or any basic amenities.
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Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team
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