A resident of Khanugaon allegedly attempted suicide and two of his neighbours suffered cardiac arrest as the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) began razing properties in the locality on Monday, as part of its anti-encroachment drive around the Upper Lake.
“We have stopped a man from committing suicide. There are two other elderly residents who have suffered cardiac arrest after seeing the BMC notice,” Mohammed Saood, the corporator of ward 8, claimed.
The civic body had recently launched a drive to remove encroachments 50 metres around the Upper Lake, and had issued notices to 92 properties — 47 commercial and 45 residential — to vacate the land within 24 hours.
The commercial premises, including Congress leader Kailash Mishra’s wine shop, were razed on Monday while the residential properties were not touched.
Panicked residents, who claimed to be living in the locality for over 70 years since the time of Nawabs, staged a protest at the BMC office on Saturday, claiming that they had requisite documents for their properties.
“We have copies of documents which show that we have not occupied this land illegally. If BMC is adamant to remove all the properties from here, they should give us both land and compensation,” said Faiz Khan, a resident of Khanugaon.
Congress and BJP corporators backed the distressed residents.
“Khanugaon comes in my ward, and I can assure that these houses are not encroached properties. These people were all workers for Nawab families in Bhopal. They have stayed here for more than 70 years,” BJP corporator Mohammed Saood said.
“An encroachment is one which has taken place in less than 5 years. They have their property papers and thus they cannot be asked to vacate their houses all of a sudden,” he added.
Activists accused BMC officials of corruption and said the anti-encroachment drive was to cover up their irregularities.
“Every resident of Bhopal knows that the civic body is trying to cover up the encroachment of a private hospital, which is also a major business group. If they are removing all commercial properties, why are they not removing that hospital which is built on the Upper Lake area?” asked Pradeep Khandelwal, a social activist.
BMC authorities said they would restore the Bhopal Development Plan of 2005 and decide the actual boundaries of the Lake.