On Wednesday (4th of April, 2012) the dwellers of Karail slum, one of the biggest in the Bangladesh capital, were evicted by the authorities to free Gulshan Lake from land grabbers. The inhabitants were given short notice via miking in the previous day, which many might have missed. Thousands of structures including houses and shops were demolished on less than a day`s notice at 80-acre land of BTCL in Karail and other slums in Dhaka. A slum dweller claimed that her 4 year old girl has been missing as soon as bulldozers had hit the shanties.
The Incremental House posted a case study on this expansive slum:
“The entire settlement is resistance. It is on someone else’s land. Morphologically, it couldn’t be any more different than the surrounding wealthy estates of Gulshan and Banani. The water bounds is. The inhabitants have set up full formal transportation networks of boats to ferry people to and from their jobs.
[..] It is pretty clearly planned, does that make it a space of resistance? Where does it gets it water and electricity from? The boats scrape the water pipes floating in the water. The pipes tap into the main lines in Banani. Someone is controlling it. Electricity is strung over the water, again tapped into the main line.”
In my Bangla blog I wrote [bn] about the background of the eviction:
“Last year on 20th September RAJUK (housing authority) went for another eviction drive giving short notice. Police and local goons forced 120 families out and destroyed their homes but later they came back. In 2008 PWD (Public Works Department) first sent the eviction letter to the slum dwellers. Ain O Shalish Kendro, an NGO advocated for them and obtained a stay order from the court claiming that without rehabilitation such eviction is a violation of human rights. In different stages of that trial the issue of rehabilitation was discussed at various lengths. But last January the court ordered to free those lands from land-grabbers and award the owners (govt agencies) - but there was no mention of any rehabilitation of the existing dwellers.”
“More than 30 percent of the dwellers of Karail Slum are day labourers, 20 percent rickshaw and van-pullers, 18 percent garments workers and 12 percent small traders. An average family earn only BD Taka 2,500-Tk 4,500 ($30-$52) a month and they have to pay local influentials BS Taka 800 - 1200 ($10-$14) for rent of a 80 square foot illegal shanty house.”
Julkarnain questions [bn] the eviction without any plans to rehabilitate these people:
“Are we losing our humanity? Or whether we are strangling our power to considerate and are being robotic? The city is filled with landless destitutes. If these people join in the gang of homeless people then the city won`t be beautified and the law order situation will deteriorate.
The slum dwellers protested forming a human chain and blocking important roads of the capital creating a chaos in the roads. The traffic was suspended in the Gulshan Mohakhali link road on Wednesday for three hours creating long tails in many roads of the capital.”