WITH NO proper survey conducted by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), major violations in terms of encroachment of public space are rampant in Panchkula, as over thousands of owners of corner houses have installed iron grills and fences on the public land, leading to traffic hazards.
“Large lawn areas have been made by owners of corner plots in Housing Board, Sector 11. The land on which these lawns have been made is public land and worth crores of rupees. But nothing has been done to remove this kind of encroachment,” says Suresh Kumar, a resident of Sector 11.
The problem is not new, as residents in different sectors have submitted several complaints in the past. Some have written to HUDA, Deputy Commissioner, Municipal Corporation and even submitted complaints at the CM window, but to no avail. Tarsem Lal Kaushal, a resident of Sector 11, says, “There is complete mess on roads as houses in front of these roads are forced to park their vehicles on roads, which is causing a lot of nuisance. But no one has paid any heed to our complaints and people are going ahead with encroaching on land.”
Residents highlight that blind turns have been formed on roads due to the increasing height of hedges which are thick enough to obstruct clear view of cross-sections and road bends. Some have planted trees while others have installed iron grills, and it can be seen in all sectors, including sectors 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
“Residents of these houses say that they are beautifying these spaces, which is okay, but at least keep the public safety in mind. Road accidents are common on these blind turns. A child was injured in one such accident in our sector,” says Subhash Papneja, a resident of Sector 16.
Due to rampant encroachments, the width of road has decreased to such an extent in some sectors that no two vehicles can pass at the same time, leaving no space for the footpath. “It is government’s land and if the government is not interested in saving it, then it is indeed a helpless state,” says another resident, O P Piplani.
HUDA officials point out that the road berms are meant for laying down water pipes, sewerage pipes, power lines and are not for private use. As per HUDA guidelines, hedges, fences or any masonry structure on road berms outside houses are traffic hazards and are illegal. Such occupation of public land for individual use and enjoyment is encroachment which is unauthorised.
While no such public notice against these encroachments has been issued in the recent past by HUDA, the authority has failed to do any survey of how many such violations exist. “Such exercises on a large scale require adequate staff and regular monitoring, which we do not have at present.
Each time, we receive a complaint, an immediate action is initiated. But to keep check on all residential sectors, we need more staff,” says Captain Manish Kumar Lohan, Estate Officer, HUDA.
Over the years, Panchkula has seen fast-paced development in terms of occupation of land for residential purpose. However, it has not been compensated by an increase in sanctioned staff strength of departments including HUDA. HC on ‘the haves’ of society IN one of the judgments on the issue, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has remarked that such encroachments of public property by the affluent class of people would lead to chaos in society.
On the residents’ argument that fences were erected to prevent weed growth and cattle menace, the court observed that “it appears to be based on a perverted thinking of ‘the haves’ of society that for the purpose of enjoyment of their right to life they can encroach upon public property and raise constructions in the form of fences causing inconvenience to the general public”.