On 30th March Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) evicted close to hundred huts in Nonadanga, near EM Bypass in Kolkata. Interestingly, this new township is made up of rehabilitated people from all over Kolkata, who have been evicted since the Globalization started ousting poor people from important parts of the city. Thousands of evicted people live there in numerous 10 ft by 12 ft or smaller sized ‘flats’.
As the rural south Bengal is reeling under crisis in agriculture, A lot of villagers are coming to Kolkata in search of casual menial jobs to earn there livelihoods. Thus new slums are being born everyday, here and there in the city. Then comes the rampant eviction drives by Government, without any kind of rehabilitation in most of the cases. It is to note here that eviction without providing any rehabilitation can not be done, according to the new policy adopted by Central Government, which is, in turn, a long told demand by NGOs and activists dealing with evictions. But it appears that neither KMDA, nor the State Government care for this.
Nonadanga, being a rehabilitation place for evicted poor in the City, attracted a lot of poor people migrated from south Bengal. The influx has risen since 2009-10, while AILA, a super cyclone struck south Bengal and left the villages ruined and cultivation impossible as salty sea water, carried by cyclone, entered into the villages and fields. This has become an added plight to the villagers of south Bengal who are already at stress due to continuous crisis in agriculture. Migration from villages, which was already started, took a giant leap and more than 25 percent people left south Bengal for various cities in India, including Kolkata. A lot of them came to Nonadanga, hoping that an eviction drive would not happen in a neighbourhood which is full of rehabilitated people. More than fifty makeshift huts have been erected in front of the rehabilitation flats. A neighbourhood was born barely a year ago, named ‘Majdoor Colony’. The colony has got a neighbour ‘Lake Colony’, which was born a couple of years back. People evicted from other places in the city and who didn’t get the ‘rehabilitation flats’ made up this Colony.
There are a lot of self-made colonies in Nonadanga, acting as unofficial refuge to the evicted people in Kolkata and for those who are coming in the city from villages. Many a lot has been evicted already, as the Nonadanga township will not remain as a rehabilitation township but would act as an extension of the city of Kolkata; hence a lot of factories are being built there. Unofficial and self made rehabilition colonies would be evicted one after another — the news has been in the air in Nonadanga for months now.
Barely a week ago, KMDA evicted a number of makeshift shops adjacent to the EM Bypass road to facilitate extension of the road. A new wave of eviction in Nonadanga has become imminent as KMDA came along with 7 vans of police force and told people to leave ‘Majdoor Colony’ a couple of days back. People resisted on that day, successfully. Yesterday, minister of Urban Developement, Firhad Hakim came and told that a couple of colonies would be evicted on the next day. Police vans, Bulldozers arrived.
Morning starts with a resistance from habitats, which lasted for two hours, until Police started repression by arresting 7 women (unconfirmed) and setting off fire in some huts. To note here, putting slum huts into fire is a long used technique by Kolkata Police during eviction. But nobody can blame them as they always decline the accusation and use local goons or plain clothed police personnel to do that. Fire put out the resistance today. Eviction in Majdoor Colony went on smoothly thereafter. Another smaller colony, named ‘Subhash Pally’ is waiting for eviction today.
Ground report by —Shamik Sarkar
Contact- Nonadanga sananda dashgupta 8296461095, Sutanaya chakrabarty 9433092338