PUSHED OUT: Cops raze illegal dwellings in front of district court
Citing a potential threat to the District Court,where around 10,000 people visit every day,the city police on Thursday razed 50 illegal huts on the plot located across the court and owned by the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) in Shivajinagar.
The slum-dwellers tried to set ablaze a few huts in protest but the fire brigade rushed into action before the situation could get out of hand.
The COEP has decided to start a pay-and-park facility on the vacated plot to avoid any further encroachment. It will also ease the congestion on the road where scores of vehicles parked in front of the court eat into motorable space. The joint operation by the police and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) followed a district court directive.
The court had conveyed to us that the illegal huts were a potential threat to it as the slum-dwellers used to move around freely on the court premises, said senior Police Inspector Rahul Yeole. The vacated plot would now play a major role in easing the traffic congestion in front of the court. The road used to get congested due to parking of vehicles, he said.
The COEP had also been facing problems of theft from the slum-dwellers as they used to enter the college premises from across the railway line.
The plot of around two acres has been encroached upon for years. The illegal shanties were removed twice in the past,but the plot was again encroached upon, said B G Birajdar,member of building works committee of the COEP. The police had conveyed to us that the plot was a cause of security concern and a possible breeding place for anti-social elements, he said.
To ensure that there is no further encroachment,Birajdar said the construction of a boundary wall was being taken up with immediate effect. The COEP is also posting private security to protect the plot.
Ramesh Shelar,the head of PMCs anti-encroachment department,said the civic administration will extend all possible help to the COEP.
The court had urged the PMC to provide assistance to have the illegal huts removed,he said and added that notices in this regard were served on the slum-dwellers in advance.
The anti-encroachment drive began at 7 am. Tension prevailed for a while after a few slum-dwellers tried to oppose it and also tried to set ablaze the huts. Two fire brigade tenders were rushed to the spot to control the fire before it could spread.
The slum-dwellers alleged that the police action had left a few of them injured. Those injured,including a pregnant woman,have been shifted to the hospital for medication, said slum-dweller Kundlik Mone.
Around 50 police personnel and SRPF personnel,along with dozens of labourers of the PMC,took part in the drive. Four JCB machines and 12 trucks were pressed into service to remove the debris from the plot.