Faced with the threat of demolition of their hutments, Colony Number 5 residents, who have been allotted one-room houses under the slum rehabilitation scheme at Dhanas, have moved court seeking stay on the demolition slated for Wednesday.
The petition was filed by Ekta Samiti, Colony Number 5, before judicial magistrate Sonali Singh, against chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board and UT estate officer, seeking directions to restrain them from dispossessing the colony residents till March 2014, citing that displacement at this stage would adversely affect education of nearly 10,000 children studying in various classes.
However, with no directions from the court to stay the demolition drive, UT administration has decided to go ahead with it. The petition of colony residents would now come up for hearing on Thursday.
"As there is no stay on the demolition drive, we will go ahead with the drive on Wednesday. The residents were given ample time to evict," said Chandigarh deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin.
The district magistrate on Saturday had ordered demolition of illegal structures on 50 acres of prime land in Colony Number 5, considered one of the largest slums in the city.
The administration in October-end had issued a notice of 21 days, directing the slum dwellers of Colony Number 5 to move to Dhanas where UT administration had built 8,448 flats under the rehabilitation scheme. The notice's deadline was on Tuesday; hence, the drive on Wednesday.
As per the allotment conditions, the beneficiaries were given 30 days to move to their flats allotted under the Small Flat Scheme 2006 in Dhanas. As many as 5,000 beneficiaries were identified for rehabilitation on the basis of biometric survey carried out in 2006.
Slum dwellers' plea
"We are ready to shift, but all we are asking for is extension till end of this academic session (March 2014)," said advocate Manjit Singh Naryal, counsel of the Ekta Samiti.
He said about 10,000 children of Colony Number 5 were studying in various classes and shifting at this point of time would adversely affect their academics.
"Though the court did not grant stay, the counsels of the administration had verbally assured us of no action. So we are just hoping that the demolition drive is deferred in the interest of residents," Naryal added.
MC councillor Harphool Singh Kalyan said, "The houses allotted under the rehabilitation still do not have basic amenities like electricity and water connection. A large number of students will suffer in case the demolition drive is not deferred. We will oppose all efforts to demolish the Colony Number 5 till the administration provides basic amenities at Dhanas and pending cases are cleared."
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Harmohan Dhawan said, "Rehabilitation is a joke as the residents have been asked to shift to houses that don't have amenities like water and electricity. We will court arrest on Wednesday in case the administration is adamant on carrying on with the demolition drive."