SRFD director says nothing illegal,only completing work where demolitions had begun
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) demolished 50 hutments in Dudheshwar on Wednesday for the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project,ignoring the Gujarat High Courts stay order on demolishing hutments along the Sabarmati riverbank.
As the residents protested and pelted stones at the bulldozers,the police lobbed teargas shells to bring the situation under control. Seven people were injured in stone pelting,and three women were injured in teargas shelling. Two policemen and two bulldozer operators were also injured.
The demolition began around 10 am and no prior notice was given to the residents. AMC officials and the police cordoned off the area and ordered residents to keep away even as many of them rushed to the Sabarmati Nagrik Adhikar Manch for help.
The demolition drive halted at 1:30pm after senior lawyer Girish Patel handed over a letter to Municipal Commissioner IP Gautam and Commissioner of Police Amitabh Pathak asking them to immediately stop the demolitions or face legal action for contempt of court.
According to the residents,the AMC,however,took no cognisance of Patels letter and resumed the demolition drive at 2 pm.
Bina Jahav from Rehthan Adhikar Manch said: The AMC has clearly violated the High Courts directive. Last year,the HC had stayed demolitions on the riverbank. But later in January this year,the AMC began demolitions near the Kochrab-Kaagdiwal area. This month,they have erased all hutments in the entire stretch from Dudheshwar to Nehru Bridge.
The Gujarat High Court had,in an emergency hearing on May 6 in Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhyays Chamber,stayed the demolitions on the Sabarmati riverbank. The AMC had demolished over 1,000 hutments that day alone.
SNAM president Mohammad Sheikh said: The Rehthaan Adhikar Manch and 150 people from the riverbank requested the HC to order a stay on the demolitions. The Chief Justice ordered an immediate stay,but the AMC ignored that. The authorities told us today that the demolitions will continue to speed up the riverfront development project.
The demolitions have so far left an estimated 8,000 families homeless.
On their part,AMC and SRFD officials said there was no stay order on the demolitions. Gautam reached the spot around 4pm and spoke to the residents,but refused to hear their requests to stop the demolition of homes. Gautam refused to comment on the demolitions,saying the matter was sub-judice.
SRFD Director Dilip Mahajan told The Indian Express that the demolitions were not illegal. The court order had said no to further demolitions,but we are only completing demolitions in areas where demolitions had already been done and a few patches were left. We did not demolish houses in the new areas, he said.
Mahajan also refused to discuss the rehabilitation of the victims. They will stay there itself. So far,we have not thought about their rehabilitation or housing, he added.
The Madhavpura police have booked a case against the residents for stone pelting and obstruction.