UNDP against slum eviction in Dhaka

‘Slum eviction violates whole circle of rights’ 

DHAKA, July 30 (BSS) – The eviction of slum dwellers in big cities and towns is nothing but a sheer violation of the whole
circle of human rights, say urban and extreme poverty experts, insisting the government to think alternative for long term solutions.

Eviction: A ‘nightmare’ for slum dwellers

“Demolishing slums, you are violating fundamental rights of poor human being, denying their rights to survival and
marginalizing poor and the poorest again,” Kishore Kumar Singh, an extreme poverty expert of UNDP, said on Monday.

Kishore, who have been working for urban partnership for poverty reduction (UPPR) since 2008, said evicting people from slums have never brought any positive results anywhere in the world, other than bringing miseries to the ‘have- nots’, while benefiting a rich class.

His comments came months after thousands of slum dwellers were evicted in two major Dhaka slums-Korail and Shattala-yielding little or no results as poor people did neither gone back to their villages nor they left the slums.

“Hardly four or five families have returned to their villages after the Korail eviction in April, while rest of 2,000 evicted families resettled in the slums,” Shahin Islam, a socio-economic assistant, told BSS at Dhaka City Corporation (North)
office.

He said the eviction has rather turned the existing slums more crowded and increased the house rent as demand goes high.

On January 25, the High Court directed the government to demarcate the city’s Gulshan Lake and remove the illegal
structures from it in next two months. A mobile team cleared 170 decimals of land owned by BTCL (80-Decimal), PWED (43-decimal) and the rest by ICT.

Households and shops within twenty meters of the road were bulldozed, with approximately 2,000 structures and 800 families affected along Gulshan Lake in Korail slums, while 2,000 households evicted from Shattala in 2010.

According to a research done by the Department for International Development (DFID), at least 60,000 people were
displaced due to the evictions from 27 slums between 2006 and 2008 in Dhaka, home an estimated three million people.

Shahin said the problems regarding slums could never be solved so long the demand for poor people remains active for
household works, car driving, low-cost public transportation, and home security. Te government should rather, he said, earmark areas for low-income people and share hands with donors to build low cost housing for the slum dwellers.

The idea was, however, denied by an official with the ministry of works, who said the poor people should be provided
adequate employment and other facilities in rural areas and deter rural-urban migration. He said building low cost housing would invite rural poor in urban areas.

Asked if poor is not in cities and town, who would serve the rich and middle class, the official said the people in cities
should be self dependent in phases like developed countries, where individuals have to do their own duties.

Kishore said the government should focus on increasing ‘housing stocks’ or number of houses for people in the country as urbanization has been growing in the country at an average of five percent per annum. Nearly 30 percent people now live in urban areas in Bangladesh, he said, while half of the country’s total population will be in cities and towns by 2050.

“City needs the poor, but it never provides any space for them,” he said, referring to Malaysia, a country which has
introduced low cost hosing for the poor people in cities and towns. The problem of slum dwellers might be eased by this time provided model towns such as Gulshan, Uttara and Purbachal have strategic areas for poor people’s accommodation.

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