Essential but Illegal: Migrant workers affected by jhuggi fires in Noida
Fact-finding report on jhuggi fires in Noida’s Bahlolpur (Sector 63) and Barola (Sector 49) villages in April – May 2021.
By-standers videographed two major smoke clouds emanating from informal jhuggi clusters in Noida within a month’s time. The first incident took place on April 11, 2021 in Bahlolpur village in Sector 63. Two children died and around 200 jhuggis burnt down within an hour and a half after a fire broke out around 12.30 pm. The second instance took place around 9.40 pm on May 4, burning down around 150 jhuggis. In both cases, the victims were migrant workers engaged in ragpicking, who sort waste collected from municipal dumping grounds for recycling. Some women in these slums are also domestic workers. They do not exist in any official documents and are often termed ‘illegal’ squatters. However, they remain an essential workforce appended to major gated commercial and residential complexes that dot the landscape of Uttar Pradesh’s economic epicentre in Gautam Buddh Nagar.