It seems every time man-made disasters struck the Capital, the civic agencies jump into action only to slip back into "no-action mode" within a few months. After last November's tragedy in east Delhi's Lalita Park, where a building with illegal floors collapsed killing 71 persons, the civic agencies had started cracking the whip on illegal constructions, but with little results.
In 2010, the civic agency had booked close to 6,000 properties for carrying out illegal construction in the city. Not only this, a Special Task Force (STF) was also constituted by the Delhi government to monitor illegal constructions carried out across the city. But months after it was formed, the STF proved to be of little help in checking the growth of illegal constructions.
The Delhi government had constituted the STF under the chairmanship of sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) on the Lt. Governor's directions.
Civic agencies, which are already reeling under shortage of staff, claim that the STF relies on their staff. Civic agencies such as Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) among others are supposed to take action on properties identified by the STF. "It is a good step that the STF has been formed. But it needs to have its own manpower. We are supposed to take action in our area too as far as illegal construction is concerned. Added to that now we are being asked to look into complaints pouring in from the STF," said a senior MCD official.
Almost 65% of Delhi's population lives in unauthorised colonies, where majority of illegal construction takes place.
Municipal councillors had also raised the issue of diverting MCD's staff to take action in unauthorised colonies. "To begin with, we don't have adequate manpower. If we have to take additional responsibility, our system will collapse," said Sarita Choudhary, deputy chairperson of MCD's Standing Committee.
The STF was formed to check illegal construction such as adding fifth or sixth storey to a building without permission, a major cause of building collapse.
"It was found that illegal construction had become rampant in the city. To provide more teeth against the drive to check illegal construction by the concerned civic agencies, the STF, which existed earlier as well, was energised by the government acting on the Lt Governor's direction and a notification was issued to curb illegal constructions," said Ranjan Mukherjee, OSD to Lt Governor.
There are around 1,639 unauthorised colonies waiting to get regularised by the government where illegal construction is rampant.