The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up DDA for allowing encroachments upon its land saying it was responsible for the situation as it did not take preventive action earlier.
“The moment the first encroachment came up, you should have taken preventive action. This situation is of your own making,” Justice V K Shali said while hearing a plea of a slum cluster in Vasant Kunj against Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) decision to demolish their homes.
The court directed DDA to not demolish the slum colony till it places on record an affidavit on whether it has carried out a survey of the area to identify who among the residents are eligible for rehabilitation.
The court ordered DDA to indicate on affidavit whether it has carried out the survey and what was its result as well as the policy it was following with respect to the removal of the slum, Dalit Ekta Camp, and whether it followed guidelines laid down by the court in 2010 regarding removal of such clusters.
The court also sought names of the officials who were custodians of the land in question and measures taken by them to protect the same from being usurped by land grabbers.
It also queried whether any action was taken against the officials concerned if they were found to have not done the needful in protecting the land from encroachment.
The court issued the directions after observing that DDA allowed the encroachment to occur by not fencing or protecting the land and permitting commercial establishments to come up there.
The court also questioned how the authority can go about demolishing the slum cluster without first carrying out the survey as per government policy and high court guidelines.
“You (Delhi govt) as state and they (DDA) as public authority can’t throw the central government policy into the winds and carry out demolition,” it said.
The court granted eight weeks time to DDA to file its affidavit and listed the matter for further hearing on February 26.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the slum cluster said that not only a survey has to be carried out, but an alternative land has to be provided to those eligible for rehabilitation, else where will they go in the middle of winter.
Meanwhile, in another matter relating to a slum cluster, Jhuggi Jhopri camp, near Rangpuri pahari nala, another bench of the high court has asked the city government to file an affidavit stating that the land in question is forest land.
The second matter will be heard by the court on December 9.
Petitions on behalf of both slum clusters were moved in the high court on the apprehension that houses there would be demolished as had been done on November 25 in the case of another cluster- Israil camp- located in the same area.
The pleas have sought a stay on the authorities decision to demolish the houses there saying the residents have been living there since before 1998 and thus, a survey needs to be carried out to see who among them were eligible for rehabilitation.