Panic gripped the New Palam Vihar area on Wednesday night when a group of 20-25 workers equipped with bulldozers and machines started cutting trees falling in the alignment of the northern peripheral road (NPR) despite the fact that the residents of the disputed area had got a stay order in 2008 from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“It was around 8pm when we heard roaring sound of a machine. I came out and found that some people are cutting a fully grown tree. When we protested, they threatened to raze our houses,” said Anthony D’ Souza, an elderly who owns a house on 600 square yard plot since 1998.
Ever since the Haryana government acquired land for NPR, D’ Souza and 700 other families in New Palam Vihar and Kherki Daula have living on edge fearing similar overnight action from the government.
More than 85 housing and commercial projects are stuck due to the litigation which virtually is defeating the Northern Peripheral Road dream of the Haryana government as of now.
“I am leading sleepless nights fearing that my house could be demolished without any notice under pressure from the builder mafia,” D’ Souza said.
“We approached the high court in 2006-07 after we were served notices by the Haryana government. The court in 2008 granted us the stay against the government. The court on December 17, 2012 finally adjourned the case sine die asking the Haryana government to give alternative plots/houses that must be equal in value and location to their current status,” said Ashok Kumar Soni, another elderly, who is living here since 1995.
Like D’ Souza and Soni, all property owners are spending sleepless nights as the Haryana government till date has not formulated any policy in this regard. The Wednesday incident shocked the residents as the labourers claimed they had permission from the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda).
The NPR’s second extended completion deadline is December 31 which seems nearly impossible, thanks to the court stay on 4-km stretch (of total 18km length) and lackadaisical attitude of the government.
The government is under pressure from builders lobby to complete the Northern Peripheral Road at the earliest as hundreds of residential and commercial projects are coming up on this stretch, claimed the land owners.
However, Huda that is responsible for providing the contractor of the Northern Peripheral Road right of way by removing hurdles such as structures, trees and other utilities including sewerage and drainage lines if any, denied of having acted in the region and cut trees.
“We did not send men to cut trees and threaten residents of razing their house. We are obeying the court order in letter and spirit. We cannot say who they were,” said AK Maken, executive engineer, Huda.
Meanwhile, the residents, along with the local councillor, have decided to file a writ petition in the court.
“We have taken the pictures of the trees felled. We will soon file a case in the court telling the court that this was third attempt of Huda to create panic for residents with mala fide intention. The Haryana Urban Development Authority wants we flee from here without compensation,” alleged Rishi Raj Rana, councillor.