The Gujarat High Court ordered the Rajkot Municipal Corporation that 142 families be evicted from the riverbed for at least a day. These slum dwellers had filed a Public Interest Litigation to seek protection from the annihilation of their huts, which was instructed to continue without giving them any alternate accommodation.
Petitioner’s advocate Aftab Ansari had sought an urgent hearing from the court on the grounds that the habitants had been given very short notice for eviction, as the civic authorities would come for the destruction on Tuesday. The cause for the demolition was to construct a beautiful riverfront in place of the slums.
It was brought to the picture that these people had been living in the Jangaleshwar area for decades and had been paying taxes on time as well.
The Rajkot Municipal Corporation said in court that the eviction of these people was to save them from probable floods that were due now that monsoon was approaching. The reason was not to seek a place for the riverfront project, but for the dwellers’ own safety and security.
When the civic body claimed that the hutments were unauthorized construction, the bench of Chief Justice Aaravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri inquired as to how the unauthorized construction came up in the first place. They questioned what their engineers were doing and what actions they took against them. He said only they allowed multiple floors to be constructed.
In reply to this, the petitioner’s advocate argued that there were no multi-story structures, only Kucha houses. Court did not contend and insisted on recent pictures of the existing constructions which petitioners have been asked to produce by Tuesday morning. Till then,the civic body has been asked to refrain from initiating the eviction drive.