NEW DELHI: DDA has drawn the high court's ire for ignoring encroachments on public land initially and carrying out demolitions once slum clusters come up there.
"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 on Thursday while asking DDA to first file an affidavit on whether it has surveyed who in Dalit Ekta Camp are eligible for rehabilitation. The court is hearing a plea by the slum-dwellers in Vasant Kunj against DDA's decision to demolish it.
The court said DDA shouldn't carry out demolitions till it places on affidavit if rehabilitation measures were planned for displaced persons and if it adhered to the guidelines laid down by HC in 2010 regarding removal of such clusters.
HC also sought details of officials told to make sure the land remains free of encroachments and demanded to know if the land-owning agency has taken any action against the officials who failed to safeguard public land.
HC's directions came after it realized that DDA itself permitted encroachment to occur by failing to protect the land and permitting commercial establishments to come up. "You (Delhi government) as state and they (DDA) as public authority can't throw the central government policy into the winds and carry out demolition," it said while
DDA will have to file its reply in eight weeks. It listed the matter for February 26. Appearing for the slum cluster, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that DDA flouted court orders and didn't carry out a survey. It also failed to find alternative land for those eligible for rehabilitation. Meanwhile, in another matter relating to a slum cluster-jhuggi jhopri camp near the 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. This matter will be heard by the court on December 9.
Petitions on behalf of both slum clusters were moved in the high court on apprehension that houses there would be demolished as had been done on November 25 in the case of another cluster-Israil camp-in the same area. The pleas have sought a stay on the decision of the Authority to demolish the houses in the area, saying residents have been living there since before 1998 and thus, a survey needs to be carried out to see who among them are eligible for rehabilitation.