SEVEN CONSTRUCTIONS were razed as part of a major demolition drive at Kaimbwala village on Monday. Several senior officials, including enforcement staff, land acquisition officer, superintendent of police and police forces, took part in the drive. Affected residents, sarpanch and some political executives of the BJP, however, opposed the drive alleging that they had not been given any prior notice to vacate the houses.
“Officials told us that the administration got a notice in 2012 to demolish all constructions outside Lal Dora and, after five years, they made up their mind to raze hundreds of houses without prior intimation. Today, we stopped them from entering the village. But, we don’t know when they would come again to destroy our village,” says Sarpanch Nita Rani of Kaimbwala village. “If these houses are illegal, then why were our electricity, sewerage and water connections passed at the time of construction? We have been paying bills for years. Was the administration sleeping? Couldn’t it see the illegal construction then?” she added.
“We are not given any prior notice to vacate the houses. The administration orders its forces to handle the protest. And, we have come to know from our sources only that officials are coming to raze our houses,” said Jagshesh Singh, a former sarpanch. “I have witnessed the construction of Sukhna Lake. It was made after acquiring our own lands. We have built houses on our own properties, not on acquired land. The administration is saying people are building houses outside Lal Dora. It was 40-50 years ago when Lal Dora was marked. The population was nominal then. Where would the villagers go when they are thrown out of their houses?” said Pyara Lal, a villager.
“On the one hand, UT welcomes outsiders from UP and Bihar, rehabilitates them in new colonies and sectors. On the other, the administration is throwing out its own habitants from their houses. Without prior notice, officials are coming to demolish constructions, where would we go in the severe winter without shelter?” said Balbir Singh Billa Gujjar, villager of Kaimbwala and general secretary of BJP, District five.
“I condemn the decision of demolishing houses and making them homeless. I don’t consider these houses illegal. The administration should come up with a better solution for these villagers rather than razing their houses. On the one hand, when the government aims at providing homes to every family till 2022, the administration is throwing out families from their own houses,” said Ramvir Bhatti, deputy president of BJP Chandigarh, who reached the site to oppose the drive.
“As police force was not sufficient to control the protesters, the demolition drive had to stop midway and postponed till next orders from the deputy commissioner. The structures were raised in violation of the Periphery Act prohibiting any construction in the catchment area and has to be removed. Houses built after 2012 needs no prior notice as per the High Court order. Still, we made a public announcement in the village a week before razing illegal constructions. If people are going homeless, they should explore the various housing schemes provided by the government, “ said Arjun Sharma, Land Acquisition Officer, UT.