Bhilai house demolition1

In the middle of a raging pandemic no demolition of houses should take place and no one should be made homeless or evicted from their established place of residence. This simple statement has a universal resonance. Take it to any part of world, to anyone concerned with basic human values, not to mention human rights, and they will endorse this.

The obvious reason is that the pandemic creates special conditions in which it is best to remain at home unless it is really very necessary to go out. Those who can work from home have therefore been encouraged to do so. Stay at home, stay at home has therefore been an often repeated message.

It is also becoming increasingly clearer from available data that in March this year mortality started rising in India, and in May India reached its peak seen so far. This data is also supported by anecdotal evidence . This phenomenon of sharp increase in mortality, its detailed composition and causes, is yet to be explained adequately. But this much is known that a phase of very sharp  mortality escalation has been experienced recently and we should be on our guard even more than before.

But being protective is not in the hands of all people. Suitable conditions have to be created in which people can adopt protective practices and safety measures. Government policy can greatly enhance these protective conditions. Community kitchens can be organized in  areas where economically weaker sections live and free food can be arranged from them, particularly for migrant workers. In the case of homeless people special drives can be launched to arrange shelters for them. In fact one the nations remembers with gratitude and pride the efforts of the Supreme Court of India some years back in increasing and  improving shelters for homeless people and this will be just the right time to build further on this initiative and to strengthen the right to shelter as well as the actual ground  conditions in which no one is homeless and no one is made homeless.

The right to life is the most important and universal of all rights. This means that all people have the right to those basic conditions which are necessary for sustaining and protecting human  life.

In normal times also the right to shelter ie housing with some basic facilities and norms to a considerable extent is a part of the basic right of life, but in times of a pandemic this acquires a much greater urgency. Hence more priority should be assigned in these times to ensuring basic housing norms of all, with special urgency being assigned to ensuring that no one is made homeless is made in times of pandemic and no one is deprived of their existing residence. Needless to add, this understanding should continue for a long time as the government also has stated time and again that we should not let down our guard and reduce precautions when things start improving in terms of pandemic.

Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author who has contributed over 9700 articles. His recent books include Protecting Earth For Children and Man Over Machine ( Ideas of Mahatma Gandhi for our Times).


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