THE ENCROACHMENTS on footpaths and corners by many house owners in the city are giving a tough time to the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). Wherever GMADA teams go to remove these encroachments, they face protests.
If they succeed in removing the encroachments, the same encroachments crop up again after a few days. Although GMADA sends notices to the house owners who have encroached upon the area around their houses by either extending lawns or by putting iron grills, the result is not encouraging so far.
The problem is rampant in older residential areas where houses are relatively smaller than in the new areas. These include Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 6, Phase 4, Phase 3-B2 and sectors 70 and 71.
The residents of these areas say the size of their houses is small, so they need some extra space. As per rules, all the house owners have to leave 5-foot space around their houses. If the area around the houses is more than five feet, the house owners can put a transparent iron grill which can be removed anytime.
Around four years ago, GMADA carried out a massive anti-encroachment drive in the city. The authority first sent notices to the owners of the houses where illegal encroachments were spotted and then removed the iron grills and walls which were put up by many people.
One such drive was also carried out in 2009 when in a single night GMADA removed such illegal encroachments. That drive was carried out on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, it is alleged that action is always taken against those who do not have high connections while influential people are always let off.
A GMADA official says that there are many areas where some influential people have encroached upon the area around their houses and have not left the necessary five-foot space around their houses for the construction of footpaths. “We used to send notices on a regular basis but no anti-encroachment drive was started to remove the encroachments. It is true that some influential people are let off due to their high connections,” adds the official.
N S Kalsi, retired engineer of Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), says many people often erect walls around their houses to cover up the space. These walls often reduce the visibility on the blind curves which many times leads to fatal accidents.
He adds that there is no provision in the master plan to erect any walls or grills around the houses but this practice is rampant. Kalsi says that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed GMADA to remove all the illegal encroachments but nothing has happened apart from sending notices. “Even in the new sectors people encroach on areas around their houses. I think the owners of bigger houses are more involved in encroaching these spaces but the reality is they are never asked to remove the encroachments,” he adds.
Kalsi says that GMADA also issued a circular in this regard but no action was taken. GMADA officials, however, deny the allegations of not taking any action against the encroachers. GMADA senior town planner Amandeep Kaur Nijjer says that they had sent notices to the encroachers.
Many such encroachments have been removed and the process is on to remove the remaining ones. She adds that it is a uniform policy and they are implementing it strictly.