MCD razes shelter of woman who took care of 100 strays
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation had on Monday demolished her shanty, saying it had received complaints from local residents and the area councillor about Devi encroaching on public land and distributing drugs.delhi Updated: Oct 31, 2017 23:52 IST
Animal lovers and NGOs came together and rebuilt the makeshift shelter of Pratima Devi, a waste collector, who housed more than 100 dogs, after it was demolished by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Monday.
Devi has been living behind PVR Saket for more than three decades. Better known as ‘Amma’ in the neighbourhood, she told Hindustan Times that she earned only to look after hundreds of dogs whom she feeds and cares for.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation had on Monday demolished her shanty, saying it had received complaints from local residents and the area councillor about Devi encroaching on public land and distributing drugs.
Civic officials said if the shelter has been rebuilt by activists on Tuesday, it was in violation of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act. “The rules mandate that such structures be demolished. If the shelter is back, we will have to take action,” said an SDMC official.
The area councillor, Kishanwati, who goes by her first name, said the shanty was made on public property and was also obstructing access to a public toilet in the complex. “Not just that, there were complaints from the councillor and residents that the woman gave drugs to minor ragpickers. She was also forcing them to cook food for the dogs,” she said.
She said that her complaint was primarily intended to rescue the children living at the shanty with Devi. “The demolition action was taken by civic officials and I was not even present during the demolition drive,” Kishanwati said.
The animal rights activists contested the councillor’s claims. “Pratima Devi has been living here for past 35 years and helps in sterilisation and vaccinations of stray dogs. Has there been any suspicion of drug peddling, the matter should have been handed over to the local police for investigation,” said Ambika Shukla, who arranged a tent and blankets for Devi.
“And even if it was an encroachment, then proper notice should have been served and the action should have been taken against other encroachers in area as well,” she said.
Jai Arjun Singh, a freelance writer and resident of Saket, who has been providing financial support to the Devi’s animal centre for six years said, “The move will demotivate those working for noble cause. Through locals I even got to know that local councillor had demanded Rs 50,000 for Devi and the step has been taken to serve the interest of local real estate people, who wanted the space for their shops.”