Lucknow demolition drives resume a day after central government’s oath taking ceremony

As the election results have come out and oath taking of cabinet ministers has finished, the bulldozers seem to have resumed as Lucknow’s Akbarnagar area saw a demolition drive that had been stayed by the Allahabad High Court in December, 2023.

Houses at the Kukrail River Front area were demolished one early morning on June 10th. Crowds of people stood in anguish at various spots and watched as houses fell one after another. Around ten JCB machines and six Pokeland machines had arrived at Akbarnagar the previous night.

The operation was reportedly led by Dr. Indramani Tripathi, of the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA). The authorities were accompanied by police officers who conducted a march through the narrow lanes of Akbarnagar, and telling residents via loudspeaker to move into their new homes in Basantkunj and vacate their current residences.

As per Amar Ujala, the LDA has displayed details on a hoarding about the families who have been allotted one or two houses on public hoardings.

According to the Indian Express, the eviction notice served to the residents in December 2023 designated the houses at Akbarnagar as ‘illegal’ and ‘encroachments’ by the standards of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The eviction drive is reportedly part of the Lucknow administration’s attempt to change the area into a more ‘developed’ area. As per a report in The Citizen, the demolition is part of the Goti River Front Project which is aimed at beautifying the banks of the river. The demolitions in Akbarnagar are part of this beautifying project.

In December, the Allahabad High Court had issued a one month stay on the demolition drive and had directed the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) to allow residents ‘reasonable’ amount of time to apply for the rehabilitation scheme.

As per a report in Mooknayak, bulldozers had undertaken to demolish some shops in December 21, 2023 itself. The report states that the BJP government in the state is working on construction in the area which has designated about 1200 homes and 102 shops for demolition. Electricity and water facilities were stopped in the area last winter after the demolition notices came, but were restarted once the Allahabad High Court’s judgement arrived. Mooknayak’s report states that over 25,000 people will be affected by the demolitions. According to Hindustan Times, the LDA has allotted houses to those who would be displaced under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The Akbarnagar area in Lucknow is said to have a considerable number of Muslim residents. The residents of the area are mostly daily wage earners.

The BJP, and in particular the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, has faced heavy criticism for demolishing Muslims properties over the past two years. They have been called out for reportedly selecting Muslim properties as a means of targeted ‘punishment.’ As per a report by the HLRN, 1.5 lakh houses were felled by demolition drives between 2022 and 2023. This had led to the displacement of over 7.4 lakh people.



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