Yamuna Pushta

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Yamuna Pushta is the Pushta (embankment) on both sides of the Yamuna River in Delhi, starting from the ITO bridge and up to the Salimgarh Fort. It has also been home to riverbed cultivators, and over 100,000 residents a string of slum colonies (shantytown) for some 40 years, mostly on the western banks, like those near the Nigambodh Ghat (cremation ghats) near Old Delhi and a few on the eastern banks like those near Sakarpur village in East Delhi. Many of these slums were being demolished in 2004, after court orders which were part of the beautification drive of the Government ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and for creating a "green belt".[1][2][3][4][5]

Delhi slums[edit]

Delhi slums were developed by the migrant populations who could not afford land in the city, encroached upon the riverbed. The Master Plan of the city described the area as "floodable". Hence permanent structures were never built by the government. Early settlers bought land from local farmers, some reclaimed land which others encroached. Thus grew several jhuggi clusters on both side of the Yamuna river. With the Yamuna flooding each monsoon, the resident of many of lower lying slums were uprooted, took refuge within the city. Yet year after year, these slums grew despite remaining outside the purview of urban development within city, and basic facilities remain minimal, and many stayed on because they developed into valuable vote banks. Another important reason for their development right up to the Nizamuddin bridge in recent years was the availability of work opportunities in the vicinity.[6][7]

First resettlement drive in Yamuna Pushta took place in 1967, and the residents of the slum near Jamuna Bazar near Nigambodh Ghat were settled in Welcome Colony in East Delhi, however with more migrants regularly pouring in this these slums kept on refilling. Then, 1982 Asian Games saw nearly a million migrants laborer coming in to construct games related infrastructure.[8]

Then in the early 2000s, the government activated its plans for the 118-acre (0.48 km2) Games Village to house the 8,500 athletes and other sportspersons visiting Delhi during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and also started an ambitious project of restoring and beautifying the 22 km-long stretch of Yamuna floodplain.[7] The Delhi High Court gave orders for demotion of the slums at Yamuna Pushta in May 2002, and in MCD had issued an eviction notice to the jhuggi (makeshift huts) dwellers on January 12, 2004 and at least 5,000 school-age children were to be affected by the drive. Slumdwellers have been asked to pay up Rs 7,000 per house as the residents offered to shift to resettlement colonies at like Holambi Kalan, Bawana, Narela and Madanpur Khadar, by the Slum and Jhuggi Jhonpari Department of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD),[9][10] though most of them became homeless since they could not even afford these costs, and further city has virtually no low-income housing that is affordable and legal.[7]

The slums were eventually demolished in a drive that started March 2004, after the Election Commission gave its permission ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, and registration forms were issued to the residents.[11][12] In this drive 1,000 slum clusters from Gautampurui-I and Koyla Basti of Yamuna Pushta were demolished, in all more than 18,000 slum clusters from both sides of the Yamuna river.[13] As later studied revealed, the income of most of resettled residents decreased by 50 percent.[14][15]

Subsequently, an eight-lane express highway has been opened there in 2007, paving way for construction of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Village and beautification drive of the Yamuna banks prior to it.[16] By October 2009, nearly 400,000 people from three large slum clusters, of Yamuna Pushta, Nanglamachi and Bhatti mines have been relocated [17]


In 2006, a book Yamuna Gently Weeps: A Journey into the Yamuna Pushta Slum Demolitions was published about the demolition of Yamuna Pushta.,[18] and a documentary film by the same name made by Ruzbeh N Bharucha was also released.[19]

As of 2010, the area continues to be a home for numerous homeless people, out of the 1,00,000 homeless living on the streets of Delhi, where after cold deaths here, the revenue department put up tents in January 2010 [20][21]

Further reading[edit]

  • Yamuna gently weeps: a journey into the Yamuna Pushta slum demolitions. by Ruzbeh N. Bharucha. Sainathann Communications, 2006. ISBN 81-903827-0-5.
  • Swept off the Map: Surviving Eviction and Resettlement in Delhi, by Kalyani Menon-Sen and Gautam Bhan; Yoda Press, 2008. ISBN 81-906186-1-X.


  1. ^ community
  2. ^ "Yamuna Pushta: riverbed settlements". plan.architexturez.org. 2006-07-23. 
  3. ^ "You Can't Bank By This River: Gods or foreign athletes can occupy Yamuna Pushta, but the poor? They just don't make the cut.". Outlook. Nov 20, 2006. 
  4. ^ "A site of contestation". Frontline (magazine). Volume 22 - Issue 15, Jul 16 - 29, 2005.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Tale of two cities: As slums in Delhi are being bulldozed to yield ground to parks, river-front promenades..". The Hindu. May 30, 2004. 
  6. ^ Verma, Gita Dewan (2002). Slumming India: a chronicle of slums and their saviours. Penguin Books. p. 89. ISBN 0-14-302875-8. 
  7. ^ a b c "A lifeline ... under siege". The Hindu. Nov 6, 2005. 
  8. ^ Mahadevia, Darshini (2008). Inside the transforming urban Asia: processes, policies and public actions. Concept Publishing Company. p. 398. ISBN 81-8069-574-3. 
  9. ^ "Yamuna Pushta puts up a fight". Indian Express. January 15, 2004. 
  10. ^ "DTC may ply special buses for Yamuna Pushta". Chennai, India: The Hindu. May 8, 2004. 
  11. ^ "CAPITAL'S SEALING DRIVE: Whose Delhi Is It Anyway? -The Yamuna Pushta slums are demolished..". Tehelka.com. Oct 7, 2006. 
  12. ^ "Yamuna Pushta demolition to begin today". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Mar 17, 2004. 
  13. ^ "Process to relocate Yamuna Pushta slums begins". The Hindu. Mar 13, 2004. 
  14. ^ Davis, Mike (2006). Planet of slums. Verso. p. 100. ISBN 1-84467-022-8. 
  15. ^ Jayati Ghosh (Volume 25 - Issue 14 :: Jul. 05-18, 2008). "On the margins". Frontline (magazine).  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ "Yamuna Pushta gets a new express highway". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Jun 5, 2007. 
  17. ^ "The economics of the Games: Most scholars see only negative economic benefits to hosting these events". Live Mint. Oct 26, 2009. 
  18. ^ "How easy to dispose of the poor". The Tribune. November 19, 2006. 
  19. ^ "'Yamuna Gently Weeps': Demolition of the biggest slum in Delhi is the theme of the documentary..". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Jul 5, 2007. 
  20. ^ Pandit, Ambika (22 January 2010). "A day-long search for promised land". The Times of India. 
  21. ^ Pandit, Ambika (9 January 2010). "Rickshaw-puller dies on coldest day". The Times of India. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°39′32″N 77°14′51″E / 28.6589°N 77.24738°E / 28.6589; 77.24738