<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The artists’ community housing puppeteers, magicians, acrobats, storytellers, folk dancers and painters at west Delhi’s Kathputli Colony looked like a war-torn place on Monday with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolishing over 400 jhuggis amid protests and stone-pelting from the residents. As teams of officers from the DDA, along with police entered the colony during noon and started bulldozing the houses, the outraged inhabitants pelted stones in a bid to put them off. The police used tear gas shells and lathicharged the protesting residents. The clash continued for over an hour, after which, the police detained some of the stone-pelters. The DDA started the demolition drive, which is to continue over the next five days, to clear up the place, said officials. “Of the 1800-1900 jhuggis , the housing authority said, around 1400 are still left to be cleared up in order to start redevelopment work. We had given them notices to vacate long back and the option to shift temporarily to the transit camp at Anand Parbat or at Narela, where they have been allotted flats. However, they were misguided by some local leaders started pelting stones hurting some of our officers and the police personnel. We are committed to bringing them back here within two years with modern amenities, school, parks and community centre, among others,” said JP Aggarwal, DDA’s Housing Commissioner. The colony adjoining Shadipur Depot is known as a hub for the artists. The place lacks basic amenities such as drains, sanitation and water supply, among others. The DDA had in last December taken up the demolition drive for the in-situ development of the area, where it claims to build houses for the community. It had aimed to start work from March-end this year, however, faced stiff resistance from the residents who feared that their art, which is their means of livelihood, will be killed if they are relocated. Dilip Bhatt, pradhan of the community, alleged that the DDA was forcefully evicting residents from their homes. “The officials demolished our homes and beat up our people. They have killed the livelihood of so many people here. They have their own vested interests in the place. They want to encroach upon our land. All those residents who were shifted to the transit camp at Anand Parbat have not been able to feed their families since then,” said Bhatt. The people here have to move to one-room tenements, which are too small to store their artworks or practice even, added Bhatt. PREVIOUS PLANThe colony was the first slum taken up for in-situ redevelopment by the DDA in 2009, in collaboration with private firm Raheja Developers.
As per the plan, families will have to move to single-room temporary houses in a resettlement area in Anand Parbat, till the construction of their permanent houses in the Kathputli Colony is completed
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