Farmers hit by the recent demolition drive at the Yamuna bank area of Delhi are complaining of being deprived of their livelihoods. The families told this newspaper that post the demolition, they were without a source of income.“We have been living here and working here for almost 40 years now. The demolition drive started two years ago and no matter what the reason is, we need food to eat. We have no other source of income,” said a farmer. Though the land belongs to the government, the farmers said they had taken it from a man, Gyan Chand, who took commission from them. A lawyer with the National Green Tribunal, while talking to The Sunday Guardian said that the government’s land had been “taken over (even) by high class families” in the area, but that had “remained” with them for decades.“As long as nothing serious is going on, no one complains about the situation. But as the land is prone to floods and farming is prohibited there, demolition becomes necessary. Also the farmers who have been staying there refuse to leave the place and keep on farming, even after the NGT order and DDA’s demolition,” said the lawyer.
On asking why the sheds of farmers were being destroyed, a DDA official, who didn’t want to be named, said: “We are just following the NGT’s order.” On 1 May, houses and vegetation of farmers living near the Yamuna bank area were demolished by the Delhi Development Authority at the behest of the National Green Tribunal’s 2016 order. NGT had prohibited cultivation of crops and vegetables near the river bank in that order. The demolition drive comes ahead of the monsoon season, which is just two months away. People living in the area face the threat of floods every year. Crops near the floodplains were also destroyed.