Make laws more stringent, keep in touch with RWAs
HT correctly summed up the crux of the issue. At the root of the ever-growing encroachment of public spaces in the city is the lack of stringent enforcement of laws. The nexus between businessmen and law enforcers, light penalty charges, political interference and lack of public participation are all responsible for the menace. To deal with the issue, I suggest the following course of action: First, the authorities concerned must review anti-encroachment rules to make it more effective. They should also make the punishment for violations more stringent. Second, law enforcers concerned must be given an area he can easily manage. The person should maintain a daily diary report for encroachments and send a weekly report to his reporting officer, who will then forward it to the authority concerned. Third, law enforcement agencies must maintain a regular liaison with Resident’s Welfare Association of the concerned area to keep a tab on encroachers.
JS Jaspal, Chandigarh
Provide commercial establishments to hawkers Encroachers thrive in the city mainly due to two reasons—commercial exploitation and to exhibit clout and power. The light penalty charges for encroachments result in repeat offences. Greed results in law enforcers overlooking the problem. Additionally, residents also encourage the problem: we patronise street food and love street shopping. It is important that citizens play a part in helping check the menace. With encroachers eating into public spaces, City Beautiful is beginning to lose its charm. Providing food kiosks and common or shared eating courts at nominal rent to the needy can be help curb the problem. Regular inspections by vigilance, security and health officials can help solve the problem.
DS Banati, SAS Nagar
Conduct surprise checks to curb the menace
Encroachments in the markets of various sectors have become a regular feature. When authorities raid these markets, one gets a feeling that encroachers already know in advance. You see them run to collect their things and hide them for a while, then haul them back to their usual spots and conduct their businesses like nothing happened. In order to effectively curb the problem, inspection teams must visit these markets unannounced, note the details discreetly and then impose a heavy penalty, which must be enhanced for repeat offences. We must create fear of the law to curb the menace.
HS Puri, Chandigarh
MC hand in glove with encroachers
The encroachments thrive only because of the Municipal Corporation’s slack enforcement of laws. They always have a number of excuses for not enforcing the law. However, corruption is the real reason behind allowing such incursions. Agents collect money to allow such illegal occupation to continue unhindered. The Municipal Corporation has failed in its duty. While the administration continues to threaten to seal such buildings, they are empty threats.
Ashu Vermani, via email
Authorities working against the interests of the City Beautiful
I have been a resident of the City Beautiful since it was declared a union territory. I have noticed that there is no will to ensure that things are improved. The Municipal Corporation and the UT administration and their officials are responsible for incursions in the city. I have written to the MC several times seeking the intervention in the matter, but no action has been taken against the violators. This only proves that it is a racket, happening with the connivance of authorities. Politicians and others with vested interests are working against the interests of the city and its residents, who are the ones who, despite paying various kinds of taxes, are made to suffer.
Sat Pal Kansal, Chandigarh
Government agencies notdoing their job well
Yes it is true that encroachers are trespassing on government land without any fear in Chandigarh. This can restrict mobility, as drivers find it difficult to manoeuvre on such roads. This is happening because government agencies are not doing their duty properly; there is no cooperation between the departments such as the police force and Chandigarh Municipal Corporation staff. To control the menace, penalty amount charged from violators of the law must be increased.
Shishu Paul, SAS Nagar
Government must review its rehabilitation policy
Vote bank calculations have made the politicians/administrators so greedy that they sanction such illegal acts at the cost of tax-payers’ interests, thus sullying the image of the City Beautiful. Unwelcome intruders, therefore, impinge on government lands and build slums and use misappropriate resources such as water and electricity for free. The administration, instead of penalising these violators, gives them free houses, which they sell and return to indulge in the same violations. This circle, therefore, is vicious. What is more, they also invite their family and friends, thus adding to the growing menace. The solution lies in reviewing rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
MPS Chadha, SAS Nagar
Stricter implementation of bylaws required
The problem of encroachments is as old as the city itself. The issue has been surfacing after every now and then, followed by mock anti-encroachment drives hitting the newspaper headlines and heated debates and talks on TV sets, before finally ending up in a fiasco. I hold the administration and politicians responsible for this malaise. The encroachment galore, akin to a festering wound, can be stemmed only if we take it seriously. There is absolutely no point in reviewing bylaws: it should, instead, be enforced well. We need serious anti-encroachments drives on a war footing. Piecemeal measures will no longer serve the purpose. Heavy penalty and more punitive actions against the habitual encroachers may be fixed to ensure that they do not go scot free.
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh
Residents should help curb the menace
Chandigarh was development in a symmetrical pattern. However, today, that symmetry is increasingly becoming blurred due to encroachments in public spaces. The problem, perhaps, is the lack of space for small businessmen. Due to space constraints, their goods and wares are often stacked in corridors and open spaces. Another problem is the lack of stringent measures by law enforcers. Anti-encroachment drives undertaken by the authorities seem to have served no purpose: encroachers, who earn a huge profit from such incursions, have to pay pittance — only `500 —to get away. To solve the issue, penalty charges must first be increased.
Kashish Arora, Chandigarh
MC officials should regularly patrol markets
Encroachments have become a routine sight in every market of the city. Due to large number of displayed items and various stalls in the corridors of the markets, there is hardly any space to walk on these corridors. Such congested corridors are extremely risky as, in case of any unfortunate incidents such as a fire or a stampede, those inside the markets will be unable to make an emergency exit. Municipal Corporation now has to take the issue seriously to check the menace. Officials should be posted at such markets throughout the day so shopkeepers are not able to encroach upon the corridors, roads and other places.
Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh
Politicians should wake up to their duty
Most people agree that encroachments wreck havoc in the city. However, it is also true the problem is not as big as the administration would have us to believe. It is only after politicians stop luring them to vote for encroachers and realise that they are duty bound to protect citizens would the menace of encroachments be sorted.
Sargun Babuta, Chandigarh
Authorities uninterested in solving the issue
Our organisation Chandigarh Residents Social Welfare Federation has continuously been dealing with the problem and has discussed the same with the Chandigarh administration several times over the last decade. Suggestions put forth by us have always been welcomed at all levels. Unfortunately the things remained only on paper which shows a lack of interest on the part of authorities.
DS Chahal, Chandigarh
Increase penalty amount
Chandigarh Municipal Corporation’s anti-encroachment drives to remove the squatters occupying every inch of available space have proved to be a damp squib. Despite having a workforce of 60 regular staff and 125 workers along with the assistance of the city police, the MC has failed miserably to clear encroachments. Strict enforcement of bylaws, a hike in the penalty amount charged, regular rotation of enforcement staff, identifying of vacant spots in different sectors for day markets where vendors can sell their products only in a earmarked spots are some solutions.
Jagdishpal Singh Kalra, Chandigarh
P’kula authorities not doing enough
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is not doing its duty towards removing encroachments in market places. Shopkeepers occupy the free space to earn more. The Municipal Corporation is also not doing its duty, although they had removed some encroachments.
SK Nayar, Panchkula
Break the shopkeeper–MC nexus to curb menace
Encroachments in the commercial areas are direct fallout of the nexus between the shopkeepers and the MC authorities/politicians. The shopkeepers dare to encroach because they do not fear the authorities who have been compromised. The authorities allow the encroachments to continue, resulting in more encroachments. The politicians play safe to maintain their vote bank. To prevent encroachments, certain necessary measures are necessary. Identify the merchandise market sites, and allow the vendors to sell their stuff there. Two, have adequate police staff in the Enforcement wing to assist the MC officials to check encroachments.
Col RD Singh ( retd), Ambala Cantt
Educate masses about risks of encroachments
Changing the bye laws will never solve the issue. The masses must be educated. Encroachers need to be told that they are a potential threat in case of any fire or other mishaps. The corridors or other such public spaces have been made for such emergencies. The issue can be solved by involving the public at large and in particular the welfare associations.
MC’s irresponsible attitude leads to encroachments
The estate office and the municipal corporation are stating that they are not responsible for encroachments in the city. The presence of illegal vendors and encroachments in the city is increasing with every passing day due to the irresponsible attitude of the two organisations. The city police also make sure that there is an increase in the instances of encroachments. Officials of the enforcement wing earn a huge sum in the form of kickbacks. The media has highlighted the issue of encroachments in markets in sectors 17, 22, 19, 15, 26. However, it is difficult to take action against them as they enjoy political backing. The directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court hardly affect encroachers. Even complaints made by residents to the authorities concerned go futile. The administration is indecisive, weak and corrupt.
Sahil Garg, Chandigarh
More anti-encroachment drives needed
The issue of encroachment that haunts residents needs to be addressed in an effective manner. Authorities need to put a check on political intervention in the matter of the municipal corporation. Moreover, anti-encroachment drives should be conducted in collaboration with NGOs who can settle encroachment cases in a transparent manner. By reducing the rentals of the public property or by introducing subsidies, incursions can be brought down.
Vikas Kamboj, SAS Nagar
Provide permanent space for vendors
A review of anti-encroachment law is the need of the hour. Holding meetings at frequent intervals will not suffice. The best solution is providing permanent space for such vendors so that they do not encroach upon public spaces. Further, keeping a track of repeat offenders will also help curb the problem. Issuing registered ID cards or work permits only for prescribed places can also help curb this menace.
Ritika Kamboj, SAS Nagar
Crime rate also increases due to encroachments
Administrations of three cities are shying away from their responsibilities and encroachers are taking advantage of this. The city is held at ransom by gundas and dadas. With the growing encroachments, crimerate in the city has also seen a spike. Politicians charge ‘haftas’ from vendors for their shops. Thus, encroachments are a result of connivance by politicians, bureaucracyand law enforcement agencies.
Manjinder Pal Singh, SAS Nagar
Involve the public
No doubt encroachers continue to thrive due to negligence of the administrative machinery, political patronage and low penalty for offences. An ‘Anti-Encroachment Watch’ campaign needs to be launched to make the public as partner to fight to menace.
PC Sanghi, via email