The Missing Basti Project

Every year, parts of our city disappear as bastis built informally by the poorer citizens continue to be evicted. The Missing Basti Project is an initiative to archive past and ongoing evictions in Delhi to question as well as mobilize action for the prevention of further evictions. It is an attempt to document what has been lost in the name of development, and what still remains, forming an integral part of the city.

This initiative aims to leverage the power of maps and data in supporting marginalized communities to assert their right to the city. Through personal accounts, expert narratives and videos, it aims to initiate action on urban and social justice. It also hopes to generate discourse on lack of adequate, affordable housing and inclusive development, not just in Delhi but across Indian cities. While hoping to use the collected data for policy advocacy and holding civic authorities accountable, the initiative also attempts to reach out to the general public and media whose active engagement is critical in ensuring social equity within our cities.

The website has compiled data contributed by various researchers, social activists and rights-based organizations since the 1990s, while attempting to aggregate past efforts at similar mapping exercises. It is envisioned as an open and live archive to which anyone can contribute. The website is meant for the general public and specifically for access to students, researchers and policy makers. At the same time, the initiative is also connected on ground with bastis within Delhi – through local organizations, community leaders and circulation of the website content in Hindi through Whatsapp messages and videos.

EVICTION & RESETTLEMENT IN DELHI: permalink

Since 1990, Delhi has witnessed an urban restructuring through forced eviction and peripheral resettlement of homes and families. After the Emergency, these past few decades have seen the largest rise in such forced evictions. Yet this is a story about the city that is either not known or told at the scale it should be. The Missing Basti Project seeks to document these forced evictions and create a public archive that recognises this facet of the city's intended "world-class" transformation. In total, this website brings together various data sources and research into a single platform to underscore the scale and severity of such evictions. On date, we have recorded nearly 300 evictions, starting from 1990. Of these, over 200 evictions were between 1990 and 2010, when the Commonwealth Games took place in the city.

Forced evictions violate the rights of working families, erases a lifetime of investment in incrementally built homes, debilitates pathways to inter-generational social mobility, and deepens social inequalities structured and produced through caste, gender and religious faultlines. The archive is one part of what is needed to resist such violations of the rights of Delhi's residents, in a hope that the act of recording and bearing testament can lead us to preventing future evictions and building a right to the city for all.