The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked Aga Khan Foundation to develop and carry out landscaping at the historic Amir Khusro Park in south Delhi, from where the authorities have recently removed illegal encroachers. The court also turned down the submission of the Delhi Waqf Board counsel opposing the idea of allowing the foundation to beautify the park, claiming that the land belonged to the board which can take care of its property.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar accepted the proposal of the foundation for landscaping and beautifying the park and asked it to consult the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The Aga Khan Foundation is a private, non-profit international development agency founded in 1967, which seeks to provide long-term solutions to problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ill health in various parts of the world.
It asked the DDA to ensure protection of the land and calculate the expenses incurred by the police and other authorities in demolishing illegal construction, removing the encroachers and rehabilitating persons occupying the area. The Waqf Board, which claims to be the owner of the land where the park exists, submitted a draft policy before the court to manage the property as a ‘model green graveyard’ while addressing the concerns of graveyard and space crunch.
The bench was hearing a plea by an NGO which had moved the court against the removal of a night shelter inside the Amir Khusro Park near Sundar Nagar in South Delhi. However, the shelter was demolished as the court had not granted it any interim protection. The bench had earlier asked the authorities to demolish the illegal construction inside the park and restore it to its original position.
It had also said law was the same for everyone and it has to be complied with and no illegal construction would be spared. It had said that old structures, which comply with the law, will be preserved while the remaining ones will go. The NGO in its plea had said the shelter housed 50-60 children and around 60 women who were left homeless after the demolition in pursuance to a high court order.
The court had refused to stay the demolition and directed the authorities to ensure that all the homeless were accommodated in another shelter home located in the vicinity. The high court had in April last year issued directions to the authorities to remove encroachments inside and around the 12.8-acre historic park.