Tuesday, 7 December 2010

PRESS NOTE

New Delhi, December 7, 2010

‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ organised a public meeting and media consultation with the communities affected by the Commonwealth Games (CWG). The coalition also released a charter of demands to Members of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the media.

‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ consists of a number of organisations, civil society groups, and social movements that have been working on the human rights impacts of the CWG. Although the members work in diverse areas and have opposed the Games for different reasons, they unanimously condemn the large-scale human rights violations in the city, the financial irregularities inherent in the CWG process, and the continued lack of redressal for the grievances of the poor and marginalised citizens of Delhi.

Members from affected communities spoke about a range of human rights violations that they have had to face due to the CWG. These include:
* The forced eviction and displacement of approximately 250,000 people for the Games, including in the ‘beautification’, ‘cleaning’ and ‘security’ drives in Delhi.

* The arrests, detention and forced removal of ‘beggars’ and homeless citizens from Delhi for the duration of the Games. The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959 was used to arrest and detain ‘beggars’ as well as gainfully employed homeless citizens. Several people were threatened to leave Delhi and forcefully sent back to their homes.

* The violation of the rights of construction workers, most of them migrants, who were denied adequate wages and safe working and living conditions. In many instances even children were made to work at the sites.

* The eviction of domestic workers, drivers, plumbers, and other informal sector workers and labour groups.

* The trafficking of women and young girls from other states for CWG visitors and participants.

* The loss of livelihoods for over 300,000 street vendors (according to the National Association of Street Vendors of India – NASVI). Cart-pullers, vegetable sellers, waste-pickers, balloon sellers, cobblers, street-food vendors and others were prevented from working on the streets, and thus denied their right to work and livelihood. Many of them were forced into starvation since they had no money to buy food. Eateries and weekly markets were also forcibly shut down. (Estimation from various sources put the figure at a daily income loss of Rs.10,70,00,000 (10 crore and 70 lakh rupees) for the above-mentioned groups)

* The diversion of Rs. 678.91 crore for Scheduled Castes in Delhi from the Special Component Plan to cover CWG-related costs. This was in violation of the 2006 Planning Commission Guidelines.


The socio-economic middle class of Delhi has also been affected by the Commonwealth Games. Apart from the inconveniences and restrictions imposed on them during the Games, they will also have to pay for the huge economic deficit of the Games for many years.

Dharam Halder from Bengali Camp highlighted the manner in which evictions had been carried out and stressed the fact that no compensation had been paid to them. “There is no one for us poor people. The government threw us out and the media has also abandoned us. We trust no one.” Sri Ram, who was displaced from Prabhu Market, Lodi Road, said, “Not only have we been robbed of our houses but attempts have been made to reduce our lives to nothingness. We are not allowed to sell vegetables and other wares on the road and face constant harassment from the police. How do we earn our living and feed our children?”

Sakkoo Bai, a woman from the Motia Khan shelter who had been evicted from the Rachna Golchakkar night shelter spoke about the suffering they faced due to the CWG. They were forced to stop working during the Games and had to rely on civil society support to survive. Mansur Khan from Beghar Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti highlighted the plight of homeless citizens, many of whom faced forceful expulsion from Delhi during the Games.

The Charter released by the Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games makes several demands, including calling on the government to oblige with its legal commitments and to ensure justice for the affected communities.

The concerned authorities need to urgently:
* Ensure that the ongoing investigations by multiple agencies, including the Shunglu Committee, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement

* Directorate, the Central Vigilance Commission, and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, include human rights violations in their ambit;

* Provide just and adequate compensation for livelihoods and homes lost due to the Games;

* Provide adequate rehabilitation, including housing and basic services, for all displaced families;

* Improve living conditions in resettlement sites, according to international human rights standards;

* Provide a moratorium on the proposed eviction of 44 listed JJ clusters;

* Ensure payment of adequate wages and benefits to all construction workers;

* Formulate a comprehensive post-Games legacy plan based on principles of social justice, equity and environmental sustainability;

* Investigate all concerned public officials for the misappropriation of public funds and corruption charges;

* Return funds diverted from the Special Component Plan in a manner best suited to the community, as also reiterated by Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha; and,

* Ensure that guilty officials are prosecuted according to the law.

The following organisations are members of ‘The Coalition against Exclusion and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games’ and support the communities in their demands:
Indo-Global Social Service Society
Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch
Hazards Centre
Housing and Land Rights Network
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
Praxis

For more details, contact: Indu Prakash: 99113 62925, Dunu Roy: 9910687627 Dinesh: 8800731751, Mansur Khan: 92119 79454; Paul Divakar: 99100 46813; Shivani Chaudhry: 9818 205 234; Sowmyaa: 95606 59595

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A CHARTER OF DEMANDS OF COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES

The Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games1 (CWG), presents this charter of demands on behalf of communities affected by the CWG.

India hosted the Commonwealth Games 2010 from 3rd to 14th October 2010 in New Delhi despite scathing criticism and embarrassing evidence of misappropriation of funds and human rights violations exposed by the media and researchers. What overshadows the ostensible successful accomplishment of hosting the mega sports event is arguably the issue of violation of citizenship and human rights and social justice that has been the direct consequence of the Commonwealth Games. In the name of security and in order to ‘beautify’ the city for the Games, thousands of citizens were denied their fundamental rights of freedom of movement, adequate housing, food, and of engaging in trade and occupations of their choice. Street vendors and rickshaw pullers were barred from carrying on their businesses, weekly markets were not permitted, roadside shops and jhuggis (slums/temporary shelters) were demolished, homeless citizens and beggars were arrested and forcefully removed from the city, and construction workers were denied wages and adequate living conditions and forcefully sent back home. The significant issue that emerges is that these rights were selectively denied to certain sections of society.

Members of the Coalition against Exclusions and Violations caused by the Commonwealth Games work closely with several of the above-mentioned groups and present below a charter of demands, which emerged from discussions with them.

1. Immediate and Just Compensation to:
a. Construction workers on all CWG sites;
b. Rehabilitation and adequate compensation to slum dwellers who were evicted during the Commonwealth Games, and moratorium on eviction of the 44 listed JJ clusters;
c. Daily wage labourers, homeless citizens, ‘beggars’, and other informal sector workers who were not permitted to carry out business in the run-up to as well as during the CWG.

2. A clear legacy plan for the CWG, which explains how the well-being of the citizens will be ensured, how the infrastructure created for the Games will be equitably used, and how benefits will be distributed to disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

3. Immediate return of Rs. 678.91 crore diverted from the Special Component Plan (Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) for the purpose of Commonwealth Games by the end of the financial year 2010-11.
a. SCP fund should be kept aside before allocating to the line departments / ministries.
b. Entire SCP fund should be spent on programmes directly benefiting individuals, families and hamlets. Programmes related to education and employment should be focused on individuals and families, and civic amenities related programmes should be focused on hamlets.

4. All investigation agencies must include human rights violations in the ambit of their enquiry. The investigations should also probe all relevant senior government officials.

5. The perpetrators of these crimes must be identified and suitable action must be taken against the guilty, in accordance with the law.

1 The Coalition comprises representatives and partners of Housing and Land Rights Network, Indo Global Social Service Society, Jhuggi Jhopadi Ekta Manch, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Hazards Centre and Praxis (as secretariat of Social Equity Watch)

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To link to this article and get a PDF of the Charter of Demands, visit the South Asia Citizens Web at
http://www.sacw.net/spip.php?page=imprimer&id_article=1732

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