Less than 25 km from the Supreme Court lies a piece of land measuring over 400 acres that, following an order by the top court on Tuesday, faces an uncertain future. Kant Enclave, residents say, lies on 425 acres of land and is split into more than 1,500 residential plots, many of them owned by prominent persons, including a prominent cricketer and a former Chief Justice of India. Other owners include retired World Bank employees and senior advocates, as well as a serving income tax commissioner and a former Jharkhand MP, say residents.
On Tuesday evening, several plots, located in the midst of dense forested area, appeared to be vacant and the area itself was enveloped in darkness, with bulbs in verandahs of a few bungalows being the only illumination for long stretches at a time. The streets also remained isolated, with guards posted outside the houses appearing as the only signs of habitation.
Guards, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that “10 to 15 families” have left Kant Enclave in the last two years, as a result of which many houses now remain locked and unoccupied. Among these is a house which, its caretaker claims, belongs to a former CJI, who “moved to Delhi five years ago, and visits the establishment once in six months or a year to oversee cleaning and maintenance”.
Residents say the lack of services and facilities — over 200 streetlights are defunct, the 14 parks are not maintained, and the closest market is 4-5 km away — has added to the problems. “The court stopped allowing registration in this area in 2004, and there has been almost no development since then. There are only 50 constructed houses, of which around 20 remain locked nowadays since owners have moved to other, more developed places,” said a retired brigadier who purchased a plot in Kant Enclave in 2004.
He was quick to add that despite these factors, around 30 families live in the locality, and will be hit by the order. “Nothing here has been built overnight. Things were done with the consent of authorities concerned. Now the court says it is all illegal. I doubt we will ever actually get the compensation and even if we do, it is not enough to purchase other houses in NCR with that amount,” he said. Residents and visitors in the area also claimed that Kant Enclave has witnessed a spate of crimes because of the low population and long, dark stretches.