Sheer wastage of time and money. That is how one can describe the anti-encroachment drive carried out by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on Friday when it once again failed to bell the cat.
Unable to touch any sensitive encroachments in areas like Haibowal, Talaab Bazaar, Pavitar Nagar and others, more than 70 officials of MC including assistant town planners, inspectors, staff of building and drawing branch accompanied by 300 policemen and 25 men from MC police force came back after removing only 11 encroachments and that too all the non-problematic ones.
It was completely a contrasting scene from the last demolition drive held on December 22 when only 50 police officials were taken to remove 100-plus sensitive encroachments in the slums of Haibowal. However, MC officials had to face stone-pelting and not even a single encroachment was touched.
At that time, the MC had lamented that “while their demand was for a minimum of 300 policemen, Ludhiana police sanctioned only 50 of them”.
Later, a letter was shot off by MC Commissioner Rahul Tewari to Police Commissioner Nirmal Singh Dhillon and the Punjab government’s home department to allot adequate police force.
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However, call it just a step to save itself from the High Court rap — next hearing in the encroachment case is on February 11 — that the MC on Friday touched only 11 encroachments in some areas of Zone A and Zone D.
The encroachments that were demolished on Friday included four platforms in front of homes in Bharti Colony on Bahadur Ke Road. However, when the demolition team of more than 400 personnel, packed in five city buses, reached there, it proved to be a damp squib as people were already demolishing the structures themselves.
Still, the MC team razed the structures amid a hue and cry by residents who accused them of adopting a pick-and- choose policy. “We are removing the encroached structures ourselves but MC will attack us only because we are poor. Why are they not touching encroachments done by restaurants and malls?” asked Vasudev, a resident.
The MC team then moved to Daresi area where only two temporary shops — a tea stall and a juice vendor — were removed which was followed by Jawaddi area where also the MC razed only four shops which were already demolished in the previous drive. “We removed these illegal structures earlier too but still some migrants were living there illegally. So today these structures were completely razed,” said Rajinder Sharma, assistant town planner, Zone D.
At the last moment, it was decided to demolish a temple in Ambedkar Nagar where residents had an angry argument with policemen and the temple was demolished after a mild lathicharge. The temple encroached 3-foot road. “We safely handed over the idols to residents and only then the temple was demolished,” said Kamaljit Kaur, ATP headquarters.