Bowing to political pressure, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on Tuesday cancelled the demolition drive in Pavitar Nagar for the fourth time in a row.
However, there was no excuse with the MC like before as a strong force of 400 policemen accompanied 70 MC officials since 8.30 am to head for Pavitar Nagar. They waited till 3 pm for the go-ahead, and finally the drive was called off.
It was the political pressure that prevented the MC from acting on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali, BJP leaders Rajinder Bhandari, Harish Rai Dhanda, senior deputy mayor R D Sharma and BJP district president Parveen Bansal reached the mayor’s camp office in the morning, and a ‘secret’ meeting went on for hours. Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu was not present in this meeting but met the mayor before the meeting started and left.
Meanwhile, the team which was waiting for orders at Zone D was asked to move to the Police Lines. Later, MC Commissioner Shruti Singh called a meeting at Sarabha Nagar with the building branch. However, her efforts to implement the HC orders failed as the team was asked to proceed to Ghumar Mandi. From there too, the MC team came back without a single success.
Talking to Newsline, senior MC employee from the building branch said, “We looked like a pack of jokers working on the directions of politicians, not MC commissioner. She was completely helpless as we moved here and there, powerless. We were all ready for the drive till orders from the mayor’s camp office came to stop the drive immediately. Later, it was too late to take any action in Ghumar Mandi as well.”
MC Commissioner Shruti Singh said, “The drive was cancelled because the news had leaked a day before.”
The ‘cancellation’ drive
The MC has to attend a hearing in the encroachments case on May 27. Last Saturday (May 3), the drive was cancelled in the same area. The MC then had an excuse of less police force. There are more than 131 encroachments on Sem Nullah in Pavitar Nagar. On May 8 last year, the MC team was stopped by Congress district president Pawan Dewan and BJP leader Rajinder Bhandari from taking any action. On January 31 this year, the MC team was greeted with stones from residents.
Sources present at the meeting that went on at the mayor’s office confirmed to Newsline that “there was a complete discussion on the matter”. “Bhandari told the mayor to stop the drive immediately and take action in Chaura Bazaar instead. On this, Bansal shouted and said no one can touch a shop in Chaura Bazaar, and it all heated up,” said the source.