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The Survey Unfolds

March 7, 2009

Guest post by SHVETA SARDA

lnjp1

Between 26 February, when it started and 6 March, yesterday, the survey of 220 houses has been completed in LNJP. There are roughly 1000 houses left to be covered. From the groundwork done end of last week by a group young women and men residents of LNJP, documents of many have been put in order, and the encounter with the survey teams this past week was much more confident.

Till date there has been no notice put up in LNJP as to the precise requirement of the documents for the survey. This has produced a spectral power around the survey’s intention and surveyors’ abilities, cunning and compassion.

The surveyors are not accepting ration cards before 1990, as they are cards issued for “Asthayi/Grih Viheen”, that is the homeless. They are noting details of the latest election id’s and ration cards, as they will work with the numbers on the cards to check when they were allotted and when the renewal stops. The addresses on the various documents are being noted to cross-check them. The noting is being done in landscape A4 sheets. Photocopies of relevant documents are being taken (VP Singh card, latest Election I-card, Ration card).

Of the two teams, one is taking photocopies of only those documents which are ones own, the other is taking the VP Singh I-Card of even those from whom the house (malba) had been bought. In LNJP, buying of houses is accompanied by the handing over in many cases of the VP Singh I Card. Also called the Lal Card, as the colour photographs on it have a red background. As of now, not proof of ones stay in LNJP when they are simultaneously not proofs of ones identity, the well kept but time-beaten Lal-cards have taken on a magical presence, specially now that one of the teams is “accepting” it. This card always had a presence, as it was the first formal document of an anchor in the city.

Other than the VP Singh token (I Card) no other non-computerised document is being accepted. In case of families where floors have been built over the ground floor, documents are being taken, but one survey number is being given to all (J-1, J-2, and so on; M-1, M-2, and so on; BS-1, BS-2 and so on, where J, M and BS stand for the initials of the surveyor representing the MCD), and if the floors belong to different families the survey numbers are suffixed with FF and SF (first floor, second floor). The person from the land owning agency (Maulana Azad Medical College) is responsible for marking each house with the survey number given to it by the surveyor.

Mostly, documents are consistent, and people have linearity and consistency of name and age through the documents (VP Singh Card to 2008 election I card), but addresses vary in some cases. For instance, a typo, or a different kind of error, may result in someone’s address having changed from 412 to 41, or even become something else altogether. In other cases, when there is no VP Singh card on their name, people have consistent documents from 1994 Election I-Card onwards. There are ofcourse cases where documents have been lost in fire, and there are those who have come to LNJP post 1998. But the worst hit will be a number of old women who have the VP Singh Card, but no other document to follow it up, though they have stayed in LNJP to this day.

It can be conjectured that the survey will take about one more month to be completed. It is being said more teams will be available for the survey in LNJP, as ongoing surveys in other parts of the city are completed, most probably from next week (Monday). Alongside this survey, a biometric survey will also be conducted by teams of a company to which MCD has outsourced that survey.

“Delhi Government is also trying to take over the functions entrusted to MCD for development [of] Slums and JJ clusters. MCD is ensuring that all the responsibilities entrusted to it are discharged in a fair manner. The system of plot allotment has been modified to ensure that only genuine persons are allotted plots and they continue to hold it for their own use. Before allotment, the representatives of land owning agency and Slum & JJ Department will carry out a joint survey. The JJ dwellers will be asked to produce documentary evidence of their residence. The concerned family members will be photographed and video film made for record. The head of the family will be required to give fingerprints through biometric method. The joint survey will be publicly displayed and objections, if any, will be invited. The allotment will be made by a Committee constituted for the purpose after obtaining affidavit from the concerned dwellers.” [Link - .pdf]

This is the route the survey in LNJP seems now to be taking. More can be read about the biometric survey from the following links:

On August 14, the Delhi Government will be taking a great leap forward in cutting down procedural hassles for those who have to shuttle between government departments to get the benefits they are entitled to. [Link]

And:

[Also has been] approved issuance of e-entitlement Smart Cards to beneficiaries for availing benefits of various welfare schemes under Mission Convergence. [Link]

And:

For availing the scheme, potential beneficiaries would recieve a unique biometric smart card that would make identification easier and leave less room for error. You can read here [.pdf] about the Samajik Suvidha Sangam.

Whether the biometric survey here will for the issuing of e-entitlement Smart Cards, or for resettlement is still not clear in the case of LNJP. What is clear, though, is that the biometric survey for issuing e-entitlement smart cards will ride on the presence of the ongoing survey, entering LNJP through the opening made by the survey for resettlement, and the fact that heads of families, who will be fingerprinted for it, are now present in their homes for this.

Meanwhile, in 2002, in the case Okhla Factory Owner’s Association vs. Government of NCT, the High Court judgement ruled:

“(7) No alternative sites are to be provided in future for removal of persons who are squatting on public land.

(8) Encroachers and squatters on public land should be removed expeditiously without any pre-requisite requirement of providing them alternative sites before such encroachment is removed or cleared.”

The appeal to this judgement has been pending in the Supreme Court the last six years. The Supreme Court court stayed this High Court judgment on 3.3.2003 and allowed for allotment of land “subject to the result of the petition”. Pleadings are now complete in this case, but it seemingly hasn’t been listed and heard in the last 2 years.*

Alongside, LNJP is restless with rumours that there will be no resettlement. In roughly August 1983, the road that runs around LNJP colony was widened and a number of houses were broken for it, and resettlement offered. Some of the houses did take resettlement (in Sultanpuri) while others stayed on, and then ofcourse many others settled in LNJP after that. The question that is now going around in LNJP is: Does this mean LNJP colony is already marked “resettled” in the MCD files?

[*Thanks to Anuj Bhuwania for sharing the HC judgement, ensuing appeal and hearings.]

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