A group of citizens who are volunteering to help restore normalcy in Delhi and helping with relief efforts have now written to the Chief Minister to highlight the plight of people from economically weak backgrounds affected by the violence.
The letter that is being circulated to get signatures of support online, says that none of the relief measures announced so far “seek to compensate for loss of livelihood or assets include victims whose livelihood is in the informal sector – such as street vendors, waste pickers, construction workers, home based workers, small enterprises and other daily wage workers.”
It shares findings of the Delhi Economic Survey 2013 saying, “North-east Delhi had the second largest concentration of small handloom and handicraft enterprises among all seven districts. Of the total 8689 enterprises in the district, 13.5% reported being owned by entrepreneurs who themselves worked in them along with maximum of one hired employee. Much of small scale enterprises are women-owned and the district has the highest absolute number of women owned enterprises at 11,059. This is also the district which has the lowest proportion of enterprises (25.6%) that reported existing outside the owner’s home among all other districts pointing to the fact that home-based work is heavily prevalent.”
It adds, “To ignore such a large number of citizens from relief measures would make these measures a mere tokenistic intervention and not lead to real recovery of lives and livelihoods in North East Delhi. It would also constitute a violation of the right to livelihood of the affected population.” It also says, “Going forward, we strongly urge the Government of NCT of Delhi to include informal sector workers in the compensation packages and other relief measures.”
Jahnavi, a social worker who has been helping with relief efforts on the ground told SabrangIndia, “As of now the local community is coming to each other’s aid. But their own resources are limited and dwindling fast. Some people have turned to money lenders. By the time the compensation arrives, if it arrives these people will be in debt.” Talking about the challenges of seeking compensation she says, “Many of these are people who cannot establish ownership of micro-business. Imagine having a thela (hand-cart) that is burnt. How will he establish ownership of the thela, especially if the burnt thela has been cleared away and he can’t even prove he ever had one!”
She also urges the government to look at measures to help people get back on their own feet. “Financial help and food will help in the short term. No body wants to live in a relief camp and suffer the indignity of lining up for food. We also need to look at long term rehabilitation,” she says.
Loss of documentation is another great fear of impoverished communities who already had extremely limited resources to begin with.
The letter lists the following demands:
1. Conduct a survey of the impact on all sectors of informal livelihoods in North East Delhi due to the communal violence which contains the classification of different informal sectors and an inventory of unique needs for each.
2. A comprehensive needs-based assessment of asset loss, extent of loss of wage income, property damage and other factors in order to enable proper livelihood recovery. The government should set up a mechanism to assess the loss of household valuables like kitchen utensils, appliances, savings in the form of cash and jewelry, etc. and a way to compensate people for that loss.
3. Set up camps to provide ID cards and documentation for those who have lost them. It is to be expedited by setting up more offices on the ground and wherever possible have representation of Muslim officers and volunteers to ensure trust and security. Documents to be looked into are:
i) Aadhar card
ii) Ration card
iii) Indian Passport
iv) Driving License
v) Bank/kisan/post-office current pass book
vi) Rent agreement
vii) Water bill
viii) Telephone bill
ix) Electricity bill
x) Voter Id
xi) Receipt issued by MCD to vendors for Hawking
xii) Identity cards issues by MCD to waste pickers
xiii) BOCW cards to construction workers
xiv) Shop license for petty shops by MCD
4. Ensure that relief process be accessible and simplified without requirements of excessive documentation that would unduly burden those already going through hardship. An affidavit sworn before the appropriate government official handling relief (SDM etc) should suffice.
5. Ensure involvement of workers’ unions and civil society representatives in all survey and impact assessment efforts.
6. Announce both interim and long-term relief and rehabilitation measures for informal workers who have been affected in the recent violence.
7. Large scale relief camps should be set up by the state government for people who have lost their homes and assets that enable daily survival.
8. Ensure increased accessibility to the announced relief fund such that the civil society is able to support the state government in ensuring that the victims are able to stand on their feet at the earliest.
9. Ensure alternative employment opportunities for daily wage labourers and migrant labourers who have lost access to livelihood with the labour, service and transport sector being dysfunctional.
You too can show support my adding your signature to the letter here: docs.google.com/forms/d/