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The mess of electric wires dangling over the entire Chandni Chowk area were akin to “time bombs”, putting at risk the lives of people, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday. The court also observed that there was a lack of access in the walled city in case of any emergency as fire tenders and ambulances could not reach there. A bench of justices G S Sistani and V Kameshwar Rao made the remarks while directing the Delhi Police and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to comply with its order to stop encroachments at the Chandni Chowk area in the walled city.
“We expect that the previous orders will be complied with in letter and spirit,” it said.
“These are time bombs. You cannot look up and cannot see the sky clearly. There are so many wires hanging everywhere. A number of wires are hanging over shutters of every shop. We talk of heritage but are not ready to look at grassroot level,” the bench said. Suggesting that authorities and hawkers should adopt some out-of-the-box thinking and regulation, the bench said whoever had visited Chandni Chowk in the last 50 years or even before would know that the area was the same since then.
“Only vehicles have increased. Hawkers were always there,” it said and listed the matter for November 17.
It said the situation should improve in such a manner that in emergency, fire tenders and ambulances reach there, which was presently difficult. While hearing a petition filed by the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal against encroachments in the area, the bench observed that a Supreme Court order declaring Chandni Chowk as a no-vending zone has to be complied with. Delhi Police’s Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra said continuous drives were being undertaken to make the area encroachment-free but vendors resurface after the conclusion of the drive.
Advocate Sanjeev Ralli, appearing for the Mandal, said there was no doubt that drives were carried out but the situation was practically unchanged. The court had earlier warned of serious action against the MCD and the police if they failed to stop encroachments in the area. It had said that despite the order of the apex court that the police would be held responsible for encroachments in the Chandni Chowk area, it found that the orders were not being complied with. The bench had also taken into account some photographs of the area submitted by the petitioner which showed that the place was full of encroachments. Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. It is located close to the historic Red Fort.