No demolition without rehabilitation, says Kejriwal

New Delhi: Enraged over a railway demolition drive in west Delhi that has been blamed for the death of a 6-month-old infant, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, announcing that there will be no further slum demolitions without rehabilitation.

"In principle, it was decided that there will be no demolition anywhere without rehabilitation in the coming days," Kejriwal said after meeting Prabhu.

The Chief Minister along with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and senior Delhi government officials met Prabhu at Rail Bhawan here. The meeting lasted for about 30 minutes.

"If any land is required for whichever railways projects, they should give us a schedule and Delhi government will first rehabilitate them before demolition," Kejriwal said.

Railways had undertaken a demolition drive at Shakurbasti on Satuday removing about 1,200 slums and shops in the area.

The drive caused a storm over the death of a child in the area.

While Delhi government alleged that the child died during the drive, Railways maintained that the toddler died much before the removal of encroachment.

Describing the meeting with Prabhu as "very good", Delhi CM said, "It was a good discussion. He (Prabhu) had very positive attitude."

Kejriwal noted that Railways will have to provide a list of the city land to be used for rail projects to the government.

"It was decided that railways will give us the schedule in the next three/four years wherever railways wanted land for its development. Delhi government will first rehabilitate them as per its rehabilitation policy. We will give houses to them to shift," he said.

Senior railway officials had met Kejriwal yesterday explaining the need for the removal of encroachment on railway land.

Railways, on its part, maintained that the removal of "fresh encroachment" was necessary for expanding the infrastructure and that the action was taken in the slum area after sending three notices, the first one being with March 14, 2015 deadline.

"Currently we have given 594 houses to shift them in a peaceful manner with police. First rehabilitation and then the land will be transferred after being vacated," Kejriwal reiterated.

"I have said, within five years, the government as per the policy, will rehabilitate those vacated, either in the same spot or nearby areas. Then the land will be handed over to Railways," he added.

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