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The Human Cost of Cleanliness

The Human Cost of Cleanliness

Slum Residents Respond to the Apex Court’s Evacuation Order

A recent Supreme Court order requires all the slums along the 140-km railway line in Delhi to be removed within three months. The order, which is meant to help Indian Railways’ effort “to maintain a clean environment along the tracks,” affects 48,000 families. Still struggling to deal with the pandemic and the accompanying loss of livelihood, these families are now living in fear and uncertainty.

Surabhi Singh and Harshita Rathore spoke to residents of the Harijan Camp slum in Kirti Nagar, an area that is also Asia’s largest furniture market. “If you don’t allow us to stay in these slums, we may end up dying on the tracks,” said a resident of the slum, which is a ghetto of mostly Dalit people, who are considered “outcaste” by sections of “higher” caste communities in India.

StoriesAsia, a collective of independent journalists from 16 South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, seeks to replace the present-day parade of faceless numbers with humanising narrative nonfiction – a largely ignored journalistic genre in the region.

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