As municipal elections near, pressure is allegedly mounting on the hammer men of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to stop demolition and sealing. The pressure group: councillors who fear losing voters.
"We keep getting phone calls from the leaders to spare so and so properties despite these flouting building rules. These days we have even started switching off phones while carrying out demolition so that leaders cannot bother us," said a senior official of the building department.
Despite the pressure, officials say demolition work is being carried out without much difficulty because it is part of their job. "We are used to receiving such requests every election," said an official.
The central zone comprising areas such as South Extension and Lajpat Nagar witnesses at least 80 demolitions per month. 25-30 demolitions have been carried out in February so far.In South zone that comprises areas such as Vasant Kunj and Munirka, 56 demolitions have been carried out this month. Every month, about 140-150 properties are targeted in the area. Officials claim that by the end of the month, the numbers will increase.
Councilors on condition of anonymity said demolitions could make or break a party in the elections. "While rest of the year we do not interfere much, during elections it is important to try and decrease demolitions," said a councillor.
Another councillor said that in 2007 the BJP trounced the Congress in MCD polls because of a major sealing drive going on at that time. "Areas like MG Road and lal dora areas were facing sealing and demolition axe and so people voted for the BJP in a bid to save their properties," he said.