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Bulldozing lives of the marginalized: Are Ahmedabad schemes meant to help powerful?

By Amanisha Das, Anshit Singh, Ishit Gaba, Vaibhav Agarwal* 

Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, one of most reputed and well-known Institute has been created and nurtured like a management school not a business school. Apart from changing the dynamics of business in the country, the institute has also engaged with priority sectors such as education, health, energy, and public administration. One such niche course is Transformational Social movements which largely focus on the society and its interactions with other entities including corporations and the state. The course introduces and sensitizes students on the role of social movements with an effort to understand the factors that introduce and sustain them. Through this course, we came across an ongoing housing struggle by the residents of Alif Row House, Al Uphasha Park, Alia Row House, Nehrunagar, Ahmedabad.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation came down heavily on the residents of the Alif Row House. They were accused of unauthorized construction and accommodation of the housing area. Around 5 years since they have occupied the society, the residents of the society are still serving notice from the Estate Department West Zone of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The notice has been issued under the Makarba 84/A TP scheme, changing the allocation of land of FP Plot 84/A to Azahra Infra Private Limited The scheme will dislodge the poor and the marginalized communities living in the area, leaving them at the mercy of the land mafia owners and builders. Objections have been raised with the Corporation however no action has been taken against them so far. With the repeated notices being handed out, the residents are being forcibly asked to vacate the area within the stipulated time given with each notice, some being as short as 7 days.
The residents of the place demand that if the government needs the place the residents own, the government authorities should rehabilitate them by providing shelter somewhere near to the place. Instead of displaying even better would be that the illegal colonies should be legalized. This does not sound to be an unreasonable request. The place was handed over to them by Salim Sheikh (the then occupier of the place) along with the proof during the purchase of the house. Now, the Municipal Corporation is asking them to vacate their houses and these people are not financially capable to construct a house for themselves.
The entire incident raises an important question about the policy formulation and implementation process in the country. Are these schemes really helping the intended segment of the society or have they been formed to simply leave them at the mercy of the corrupt and the powerful? Most of these people are not educated and hence are not completely aware of their rights. They are being harassed legally by the authorities, who were formed to implement an effective system of rules and regulations. Additionally, what we see is the utter violation of the powers of these officials for their personal benefit at the expense of these marginalized groups. This also raises another important question as to what we, as a society, can do to help these people and to prevent their harassment at the hands of the corrupt officials.
For the same, it is of prime importance to ensure that the society is made aware of such issues and that it is our moral responsibility to support such incidents in whatever capacity we can.
If the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation tries to dislodge the poor from their native place, it is going to be a prelude of mass agitation. Bulldozing the houses of the poor, will perturb the society against the ruling government. As a leader of a growing society, it is the responsibility of the political figures to create convenience for people, solve their problems and not add to it.
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*Second-year students of IIM Ahmedabad

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