In an unprecedented move, three bulldozers rolled into a residential society in Noida and tore down illegal encroachments by several residents, including the family of Shrikant Tyagi.
The action capped a 48-hour ultimatum issued by the Noida Authority to residents of Grand Omaxe Society, which has been in the news ever since Tyagi was arrested in August for misbehaving with a woman resident. Tyagi’s faceoff with the woman was over encroachment by the former by planting palm trees in the society’s common area.
On Friday, the palm trees, which had been put up again by Tyagi’s wife Anu, were among structures pulled down by the bulldozers. Tyagi’s arrest had prompted protests by members of his community, led by an outfit called the Tyagi Samaj, which had been pressing authorities not to single out the family and act against encroachments carried out by all residents.
As officials arrived at the society on Friday morning, residents, particularly of ground floor flats, staged a protest in front of the main gate. Apart from official vehicles, three bulldozers and several trucks made their way into the society.
A large number of police had also been deployed to keep the peace.
Residents claimed they had not received a written notice, and had instead found out via messages that the Noida Authority had decided to act against encroachment by ground floor flats. Sitting in front of the main gate, protesters held up posters with messages such as ‘save houses of innocent people’.
Jyoti, who lives in Alexandra B tower, said, “The Noida Authority is saying there is an issue with what has been built on the boundaries of flats. But according to maps of the builder, we had bought those areas and paid extra as ‘Preferred Location Charge’. The Noida Authority is saying that is not so in their map. In fact, most flats have canopies on the ground floor to stop any trash from falling.”
Ginny Jindal, who lives in Florence D tower, said, “Bigger balconies were given by the builder… we had paid almost 10 percent extra for ground floor flats. We were told everything was above board; if there is some issue then the Noida Authority should have taken it up with the builder first. We only found out through messages.”
Another resident said, “Only verbal notice was given, this 48-hour deadline is a tughlaqi farmaan.”
The demolitions of canopies and other encroachments began at Alexandra tower, before moving to Lincoln and Greenwich towers.
Many residents became emotional as the demolition progressed, with several standing in front of their homes and pleading, but in vain, as the canopies at six flats were demolished.
Some took matters into their own hands, with canopies and fences in eight flats being brought down by their owners themselves. One resident, lawyer Pankaj Garg, said he would take legal action over the issue.
The trees in front of the Tyagi home were also brought down, along with several trees in a nearby garden.
Reacting to the situation, Anu Tyagi said, “Just like my property was legal, the property of the others is also legal. I had asked if my property was demolished, what about the property of the others? I am not in favour of demolition since I know very well the pain of having part of your house destroyed.”
The bulldozers and trucks left the society around 4 pm, with police noting that the demolition would continue the next day if a stay order was not obtained.
A statement issued by the Noida Authority said: “A notice was issued on 9.7.2020 to the owners of 132 ground flats in which they were expected to demolish the construction… The demolition order was posted against 131 flats on 30.9.2022… On the passing of the stay order from the High Court Allahabad, the demolition proceedings were stopped immediately. The next hearing date has been fixed on 20.10.2022.”
A survey of the society had been carried by a Noida Authority team on Wednesday. Additional CEO Praveen Mishra had said on Thursday that action would be taken as previously announced when the deadline expired.
Noida Authority CEO Ritu Maheshwari was quoted by ANI as saying, “Flat owners were told about illegal constructions that need to be demolished , but they did not oblige. With police’s help, Noida Authority demolished the illegal construction in the open areas of the society in 17 cases.”