Around 56 houses in East Delhi were razed in a demolition drive carried out by the East civic body since Monday, following a Delhi High Court order to remove encroachments. The move, which comes in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, has left several residents out on the streets. The EDMC, however, said it was following the court order and has to file a compliance report by August 17.
The houses occupied the 200-metre stretch near Angad Nagar, from the Khureji traffic signal to Chitra Vihar. Most houses were jhuggis that were later converted into concrete structures, which encroached on government land, said officials.
One of the residents, Padma (45) said: “The government says people should not go out of home during corona, but we have been evicted in such a time. At least they should have allowed us to stay till the virus persists.”
Another resident, Rahul Kumar said, “Most people here are unemployed at present, many work as ragpickers or as safai karamcharis.”
East MCD Mayor Nirmal Jain said stopping the demolition is not in his hands as the road belongs to the PWD and demolition is being done on court orders.
According to the EDMC spokesperson: “Police provided security, while the corporation is carrying out the exercise along with assistance from the Public Works Department (PWD) as the right of way is theirs.”
A PWD official said, “We are following the court order. The mandate is that MCD carries out the demolition and PWD provides logistical support. We are providing manpower and machinery.”
The spokesperson said the encroachment removal order was first given in 2015 by the High Court. Residents moved court and were asked to establish their title suit in a lower court: “The case was dismissed in 2019. It is not fair to say they have not been given time, they knew for four years that they were not the owners.” A contempt petition was filed in January and EDMC was told to submit a compliance report on August 17. “The only option for us was to comply,” said the spokesperson.
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