Sixth drive to be cancelled in a row; Congress,BJP leaders support protesters.
The demolition drive of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation once again fizzled out on Monday as it faced stiff resistance from the people of Pavitar Nagar and Gopal Nagar in Zone D. The MC team,led by ATP Rajinder Sharma,along with 250 policemen had to return empty-handed,without touching even a single illegal structure.
The team came back after more than 1,000 residents of colonies gathered and started protesting against demolition. This was the sixth time in a row that demolition was cancelled. However,this time it was clearly lack of will and support of Congress and BJP leaders which left Akali Dal alone in the whole drama that was witnessed.
The MC team went to demolish 80 illegal structures,most of them being pucca houses built by people on MC land. The houses are illegal as they are built on Sem nullah,owned by MC. But as people started creating a ruckus,we had to return, said Rajinder Sharma,Assistant Town Planner,Zone D.
Sharma added,People started saying that they have been living for the past more than 20 years and have legal papers of their land. They also said that we are ready to pay the price in return if MC regularises their land. MLAs and councillors too started supporting them and we had to return this way. Now one-week time has been given to them to produce papers. Buildings existing before 1995 will not be demolished.
The incident took on political colour as Pawan Dewan,district Congress president (urban),Bharat Bhushan Ashoo,MLA,and Hemaraj Aggarwal,leader of opposition,reached the spot and started supporting residents. Not only the Congress,the BJP also took advantage of the situation with senior leader and former BJP state president Rajinder Bhandari coming to the spot. Surprisingly,he agreed with the Congress.
Dewan said,People have been paying taxes,electricity bills and water bills for the past more than 30 years. Thus,it will be wrong to make them homeless. We have asked MC to give them one weeks time and if they are able to get written proof,their homes will not be demolished.
Bhandari said,Such things have happened in the past too,and it is not a big deal for MC to pass a resolution and regularise the homes of people when they are ready to pay for it. We have put this point before MC to explore all options,and BJP will continue to support this.
First,the MC cancelled the demolition drive in Gur Mandi on March 13 when people started protesting against demolishing 30 shops near a temple. Then on March 21,the drive in Talaab Bazaar took a religious colour and it was cancelled. April 2 drive of Haibowal Kalan had MC present a different excuse of unavailability of police force. In its very recent action,the MC has again postponed the demolition drive at Salem Tabri which was planned for April 5. The MC says they are scrutinising documents of buildings whose owners are claiming that they were built before 1995. The demolition drive of Indira Nagar,slated for April 10,was cancelled as MC drivers went on strike for a day.