Right to Adequate Housing in India a Matter of ‘Urgency’ 


Human Wrongs Watch

Expressing grave concern over a number of issues regarding the right to housing in India, an independent UN human rights expert on 22 April 2016 called on the Government for immediate attention and implementation of the right to ensure adequate housing for the most disadvantaged.

A woman outside her small home in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Photo: World Bank/Graham Crouch

“I am extremely concerned for the millions of people who experience exclusion, discrimination, evictions, insecure tenure, homelessness and who lack hope of accessing affordable and adequate housing in their lifetimes,” Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, warned at the end of her two-week official visit to the country.

Discrimination and social exclusion, urban homelessness, and evictions are among some most complex housing issues, according to the UN rights expert.

“I have been told that evictions are most often carried out against the most vulnerable populations, most of whom are living below the poverty line,” said Farha, adding that “forced evictions are often implemented without any consultation with residents, without sufficient or any notice, and commonly result in homelessness.”

While recognizing India’s efforts to address disparities and the living conditions in slums throughout the country, as well as ensuring water, sanitation and electricity in some rehabilitation and redevelopment sites, Farha stressed that much more needs to be done to improve mounting inequality in urban areas.

“A two-track policy response is urgently needed, one that addresses the backlog of housing shortage, and the other that prepares India for upcoming housing needs,” she said.

The UN expert further urged the Government to adopt national housing legislation based in both its national and international human rights commitments.

A moratorium on evictions, immediate obligations to adequately address homelessness, and that is in line with some of its most progressive state plans for in situ rehabilitation for slum dwellers are of great urgency and priority, Farha noted.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme.

The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. (Source: UN).

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

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