Delhi civic bodies play safe on illegal shrines
A rough estimate puts the number of such structures in the city at 400; some have come up in the past few years
Sep 01, 2014
Source : The Times of India
Shrine

 

NEW DELHI: Last week, the Supreme Court expressed anger over tardy implementation of its January 2013 order on demolition of illegal religious structures and statues on encroached government land. A bench headed by Justice S J Mukhopadhyay made it clear that "you need not look if it is a temple, mosque, church or a gurdwara. All should go if they are illegal".

Nevertheless, municipal corporations in Delhi have left these alone, seemingly out of fear of ruffling feathers. And every cog in the wheel supposed to implement the apex court's order finds someone else to blame. There is no talk of collective responsibility.

The BJP-led corporations have compiled a list of all these structures, but party councillors are blaming the Delhi government for not implementing the order. "The decision has to be taken by the Delhi government's religious structure committee. The civic agencies can only compile a list of such structures," said Manish Gupta, commissioner of South Corporation.

The committee, sources admitted, has not ordered action against any religious structure in the past one year. "The committee can only recommend that action should be taken against illegal religious structures. The final direction will be issued by the lieutenant governor as there is no government in Delhi right now," said a Delhi government official.

The SC bench, though, had clearly said that authorities should only consult all sides before demolishing structures that came up before the 2013 order; those that were erected after it should be immediately razed.

BJP, which is in power in all three corporations, is unwilling to take inspiration from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, as Gujarat chief minister, had demolished several illegal shrines on main roads. "It is a sensitive issue. He could do it as the CM of a state. In Delhi, too, the government should decide and direct all civic agencies and government departments to take action against such illegal constructions," said Satish Upadhyay, Delhi BJP president and chief of South Corporation's standing committee.

A rough estimate puts the number of such structures in the city at 400; some have come up in the past few years. "I have directed officials to take action against new constructions in their area," said Yogender Chandolia, mayor of North Corporation.

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