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Protests: Bhadbhada Residents Still Await Resettlement After 4 Months

Last March, the Bhadbhada slum was completely demolished by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation following an order from NGT. Even after 3 months, the people here are waiting for resettlement.

By Shishir Agrawal
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People protesting in Bhopal for resettlement

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Meena Bai, a former resident of the Bhadbhada settlement in Bhopal, points to the luxurious Taj Lakefront Hotel, a multi-story building belonging to the famous Taj Group of Hotels. This hotel used to be a daily sight for her, as her home once stood directly opposite it. However, Meena’s luck ran out when her house was demolished, and the entire settlement had to be evacuated.

In March, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation demolished all houses in this settlement, following an NGT order. There were about 386 houses, all located within the 30-metre catchment area of Bhoj Wetland. Hence, in July 2023, the NGT’s order led to the demolition of these homes.

During this time, residents received checks for one lakh rupees and were promised resettlement. However, almost three months later, they are still waiting. Frustrated by administrative neglect, residents have staged a sit-in near the debris of their former homes.

Meena Bai says, "When we were asked to leave in March, we were assured of housing, but all we received were one lakh rupee checks."

Most former residents now live in different parts of Bhopal, but the displacement has disrupted their jobs and children's education.

"We've been pushed back 25 years,"says Ishrat, another resident. 

muslim women protesting
Ishrat cries while sharing her grief with us

In the scorching heat, Ishrat, protesting for her demands, breaks down while speaking to us. A mother of four, her oldest daughter is 15, and two more of her children are in school. Their education has suffered since they lost their home. Ishrat recalls, "When the police came to demolish our house, no one was allowed to leave for two days, preventing our children from taking their exams."

Since then, Ishrat and her children have been living in Karond, where the rent is 6,000 rupees, excluding the electricity bill. She says living in Karond has increased her expenses, deepening their financial crisis.

"We're spending our savings just to live. It'll take 25 years to save enough to build a new home. The administration has pushed us back 25 years."

Employment Crisis: No Home, No Job

Another Bhadbhada resident, Faizan who earlier used to work as a porter at a nearby vegetable market, just 20 steps from his home. Now, he lives in Khanugaon and struggles to find work.

"These Days, I do painting work, but it's new to me, so I don't earn as much as I did as a porter."

Like Faizan, all the displaced residents have only received the one lakh rupee check. With no significant savings, this immediate relief is insufficient for them.

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Meeting with the Administration on Monday

The Bhadbhada residents were given three resettlement options: immediate relief of one lakh rupees, a plot in Chandpur, or houses under the PM Awas Yojana in Malikhedi and Kalkheda. However, no action has been taken on the last two options.

To get answers, we tried to contact Archana Sharma, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Tatya Tope Nagar, but we were unable to reach her by the time this report was published. However, local residents informed us that a delegation plans to meet with the SDM on Monday.

When the Bhadbhada settlement was demolished, we did a ground report highlighting how the Municipal Corporation itself is responsible for pollution in the Bhoj Wetland. The case under which this action was taken also included stopping sewage from entering Bhopal’s large lakes, an issue the Corporation has yet to address.

Meanwhile protesting residents have warned that if they are not resettled soon, they may escalate their protest. 

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