In mid-February 2020, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) served eviction notices to 45 families living in a slum, located 1.5 kilometres away from the Motera Stadium, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted US President Donald Trump on February 24. The AMC ordered for a wall to be constructed in the area, apparently to hide the poverty in sight. The eviction notice claimed that the slum dwellers had encroached on the land, which belonged to the AMC. Land Conflict Watch tried to get in touch with the corporation for comments, but the latter did not respond. Earlier, on January 23, the AMC demolished around 24 huts without prior intimation when the slum dwellers were out for work. Communities such as slum dwellers who are landless usually settle on common land, on which the government claims ownership. Therefore, anyone who lives on common land is considered encroacher by the state. These people may claim traditional rights over the land by virtue of having lived on that land for many years, but they do not have any legal right over it and are, therefore, at the mercy of the state, who might evict them at any time on the pretext of encroachment. Shailesh Bilwa, a slum dweller, told a news agency that they have been living in these slums for over a decade now and have never been served with an eviction notice before, questioning why the notice was served just before the official visit of a dignitary. According to media reports, officials have denied any connection between Trumps visit and the eviction. Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra told a news daily that no slum was being evicted ahead of the Namaste Trump event in the city. There are no plans of any forceful eviction in the near future. There are no plans to evict any slum dwellers near the event venue or the route which the dignitaries will take. The AMC has an Estate department that is responsible for preventing any settlements on public land. Meena Jadhav, general secretary of Majoor Adhikar Manch, a trade union that works for the welfare of daily wage labourers, had approached the AMC to request it to take up the cause of the slum dwellers, but the corporation still went ahead with the eviction. We are ready to vacate, but we need an alternative accommodation, otherwise we will be forced to live on pavements. We live here with our families. We pray to the government to provide us with an alternative plot where we could live, Bilwa said when he was served the eviction notice. Land Conflict Watch tried to confirm if the slum dwellers had returned after Trumps reception ceremony but could not visit the area because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
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Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation
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