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Saving Bastis

The recent Supreme Court order to evict 48,000 households in JJ clusters on railway land in Delhi, which came amidst a global pandemic, underscores this expendability of the poor in India’s capital. It is the most recent in the nearly 300 forced evictions experienced by Delhi’s poor since 1990, according to the archive recently created by a group of academics and social activists titled “Missing Basti”. Concurrent with these evictions have been several waves of resettlement — first, in the 1960s, a second during the Emergency years (1975-77) and the third, preceding the Commonwealth Games in 2000s. Of around 60 resettlement sites in the city so far, 44 colonies were established between 1960 and 1985, and 27 of those during Emergency alone. Mapping these colonies before and after 1990 reveals how the poor have continually been pushed out to the ever-expanding periphery of the city.


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