Anguished over illegal constructions in the capital, the Delhi High Court Monday asked local authorities whether the 108-foot Hanuman statue in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh can be “airlifted” to remove the encroachments — and the consequent traffic jams — around it. Observing that entire skyscrapers have been relocated in the United States, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar gave the suggestion, while hearing a PIL by an NGO that has sought removal of unauthorised constructions and encroachments in Karol Bagh.
“Consider if the statue can be airlifted. Speak to the Lieutenant Governor… In the US, entire skyscrapers are shifted as a whole,” the bench said. The court also said that if civic bodies can “at even one place show that the law was being enforced, the mindset of the people of Delhi would change”.
It also said that enough opportunities have been given to the municipal corporations to enforce the law, “but no one wants to do it”. The matter came up before the bench on Monday as local authorities were seeking a modification with regard to the police station which would be responsible for implementing the court’s November 15 direction to remove encroachments from the area.
The bench had directed the SHO of Karol Bagh police station, the central range DCP and the chief engineer of the PWD to conduct an inquiry to provide details regarding people who were responsible for erecting the idol, as well as the unauthorised floors of the buildings.
It also asked authorities to furnish full particulars of people who funded the unauthorised constructions, along with details of people who were in control of the encroached areas.
During the previous hearing, the High Court had directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to remove all encroachments on the Southern Ridge, besides taking action against unauthorised constructions. It was hearing a batch of petitions against illegal constructions. In May, the High Court had appointed a committee to look into the issue.
Quoting from the report filed by the committee, the bench said that around 1,170 square yards of land on the Southern Ridge, belonging to the DDA, has been encroached upon. This is “completely impermissible,” the bench said, while citing from the report that a 108-foot idol was constructed on the Karol Bagh-Pusa Road junction and that many buildings, including residential apartments, have constructed up to four floors illegally.
“We direct a report be placed before us within a week by the DDA on the person(s) responsible for the construction,” the bench had said.