Three days before the Punjab and Haryana High Court is slated to question the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on the status of encroachments in the city, the civic body finally gathered force and removed encroachments in sensitive area of Pavitar Nagar built on drain Sem Nullah.
As per the list submitted in the High Court of the MC action plan, the area had 64 illegal constructions mostly residential in 2003. However, the number has increased to 140 now and of them around 70 residential encroachments and few enclosed shops were reduced to debris on Saturday.
Majority of the population living in Pavitar Nagar since 20 years are of low income group. Prior to this, MC had targeted areas such as Ghumar Mandi, Giaspura and Barewal Awana which mostly housed families with low income.
On Saturday, as the MC started demolishing illegal constructions with around 400 police personnel including women cops, residents started pelting stones on the MC team which included assistant town planner Kamaljeet Kaur, superintendent J S Sekhon and others from building and tehbazaari branch.
However, the situation was controlled by police and no one was majorly injured, however, assistant sub-inspector Raj Kumar was hurt. The demolition drive at Pavitar Nagar was cancelled four times previously. This year on September 4 and May 3 MC had planned action in the area but had an old excuse that police force was not sanctioned in required numbers.
Then on January 31 this year, stones were pelted on MC team and vehicles were vandalised. On May 8, 2013, Municipal Corporation team returned empty handed after the Congress district president Pawan Dewan and BJP leader Rajinder Bhandari interfered.
The encroachments were built on a drain called Sem Nullah. Talking to Newsline, Kamaljeet Kaur, assistant town planner, headquarters said, “Around 140 parties were served notice in this area and 70 buildings were removed. Others will also be razed in coming days.”
Some areas untouched
The Municipal Corporation has failed to touch a single encroachment in areas such as Industrial Area, Gur Mandi, Chaura Bazaar where high income families have encroached upon MC land. As per the action plan, the encroachments, 361 in Chaura bazaar, 30 in Gur Mandi, 9 in Talaab Bazaar, 91 in Kamla Nehru Market, 148 in Karim Pura bazaar, 77 in Mundian Kalan, 176 in Kulliawal and 240 in Industrial Area-A are yet to be removed.
Congress stages protest
Congress councillors arrived around 12 noon, three hours after demolition started and work was half completed and tried to agitate the encroachers. Gurpreet Gogi, Balkar Singh and Maharaja Singh Raji started raising slogans such as ‘Punjab sarkaar murdabaad’ and started forcing the police to arrest them. However, people did not show support and said that they have arrived too late when demolition is almost finished.