Wednesday, January 14, 2009

100 years of squatting, one summary eviction

How much is 100 years of continuous occupation worth? If you like in Kolkata (Calcutta), five days notice before eviction and demolition. The Times of India reports that the squatters in Howrah actually work as recyclers for the Muncipality. But that apparently counts for nothing. A rickshaw decked out with a PA system broadcast the eviction news on January 8th. The squatters were given until this week to leave. There has been no court case, and there is no relocation plan.

"Three generations of my family have lived here," says Shanti Devi Paswan, one of the residents. "I don't what will happen if the eviction takes place. Who will rent a house to a scavenger?"

It's discrimination and a perversion of law that people who have been in continuous occupation for so long, and are actually providing a municipal service, can be thrown out like this.

Update here: Authorities have started demolition (razing more than 150 shops and factories) and the squatters are mobilizing.


Anonymous said...

In Kolkata, people are taking undue advantage of poor tenancy rules. Suppose a family used to pay a throw-away price for a flat 50 years back, they are still paying the same as there is no rule to enforce the legitimate rent. Moreover some old tenants claim themselves to be 'legal' (though inhuman) and unofficially charge a handsome amount to move away. Some of them take over the property by paying a throw-away price (1/10 of the market value). Some of these tenants are poets, lawyers and other educated people.

This is like software piracy, the problem will persist unless there is a strict law to monitor everything (which is not possible as the state Govt. is keen to keep the votes of the tenant families.).

rn said...

A: It may be true that some tenants are profiting unreasonably from the chaotic property records and loose landlord/tenant laws in Kolkata. On the other hand, I'm sure some landlords are making unconscionable profits too.

I don't have enough background here to take sides.

The problem of living in a country with the rule of law is that people often use the law to their advantage. Sometimes I agree with their manipulations, sometimes I don't. But the bottom line is: this is how the system works.

Anonymous said...

If the motivation of the tenants is purely to become landlords or flip it for a profit, then I cannot side with them. On the other hand, if the motivation of the tenant is purely to put a roof over his head, then good for him. I can’t side with anyone who Lords over another mans need of shelter; the whole concept has always disturbed me. I live in the dark enough already, presenting myself as a supreme man that has the right to profit from another mans shelter is most certainly not going to shed light on my character and understanding of humanity.

Carrot said...

There has been a lot of laws passed to solve these issues yet, the implementation remained very lenient, as always. As these things get more pressing, people only tend to know the issue but not act concretely on them.