Updated: September 26, 2020 9:07:33 am
Citing the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) law against construction on river embankments, the Delhi Development Authority demolished more than 100 jhuggis at a slum at the Batla House dhobi ghat Thursday.
“Approximately 2.5 acre of land got cleared after removal of this encroachment. This land pertains to the Yamuna floodplain and is owned by DDA. The land is well demarcated by installing bollards and even boundary walls — the encroachers made jhuggis on government land over the last few months despite instructions displayed on site that the land belongs to DDA. These encroachers were informed continuously to clear the site, but nothing happened,” said a DDA spokesperson.
“The matter was brought to the notice of DDA Vice-Chairman Anurag Jain and it was discussed in detail in the last STF meeting. With the help of a Delhi Police team headed by Joint Commissioner Devesh Srivastava, the encroachment was removed. This is pursuant to guidelines of NGT and DDA’s commitment that Yamuna floodplain should be removed from encroachments,” the spokesperson added.
The demolition drive, however, left many without a home.
Mohammad Javed (32), a rickshaw puller and father of five, said, “My rickshaw was broken and our household items are gone. We were suffering during lockdown but at least we had a roof over our heads. There is no food, no clothes, no electricity or water now. At night we deal with the mosquitoes and during the day, we suffer under the sun.”
He added that the family does not have resources to go back to their village in Bihar. “Where will we go? If we crowd on the roads the police come after us? It keeps getting worse for us poor,” he said.
Shabnam (35), a domestic help, said, “We do not have adequate money to even eat. And they expect us to go back home to Bihar. What will we do there?”
Akhtari (30), who too works as a domestic help, said, “I have three children below 12 years and my husband works as a labourer. I have not had regular work and neither has he… In addition, they’ve stopped water supply here.”
The demolition team also razed a toilet block in the area, locals said. Pakeeja (20), a domestic help, said, “They have broken all toilets and the water supply. Where will the women go?”
As of September 15, the Special Task Force has received 59,484 complaints of encroachment, and action on 53,721 have been initiated, the DDA said in a press release. “Anti-encroachment drives have also been initiated on approximately 232 km road length by ULBs (urban local body) between September 1 and 15. North MCD has cleared 60 km and SDMC has cleared 102.7km. EDMC has cleared 44 km and NDMC has cleared 25.3 km,” it states.
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