Delhi is known as the “city of flyovers”, but can residents on both sides of each flyover be deprived of their right of way?
This question was posed in the Delhi High Court by thousands of families living in Hari Nagar Ashram and Friends Colony (West) in south Delhi adjoining the Ashram flyover.
For four years now, they have been stuck with a unique traffic problem — access to their houses is blocked as the service lane adjacent to the flyover has been encroached upon.
So what do the residents do? They take long, tiresome detours from Ashram crossing through various routes — in many cases the diversions are up to three kilometres long. So, a three-minute drive turns into a 30-minute ordeal. Result: It’s late to office and late home, daily, for the people living here.
During peak hours, with a U-turn not possible under the flyover, the whole area is a traffic mess as many commuters, in a bid to avoid the detour, get on to the wrong side of Mathura Road hindering free traffic flow and creating major snarls at the Ashram junction. With the crucial part of the service lane encroached, the surviving by-lanes witness major jams.
Filing a PIL on behalf of the Hari Nagar Ashram Residents Welfare Association in 2006, lawyer Nalin Tripathi alleged that owners of a marble company (M/S Analco Marketing) and a private residential complex (Anil Kejriwal) closed the lane by putting up gates and now use it as their personal driveway.
On July 22, 2002, the assistant engineer of Public Works Department wrote to the executive engineer “to take necessary action to free the government land from encroachment”.
In 2008, the court, after perusing a demarcation report by the sub-divisional magistrate of Defence Colony, ordered the removal of the encroachments. But after certain disputes were raised regarding the manner of demarcation, the court, on February 29, 2008, ordered a redemarcation in the presence of the parties, sub-divisional magistrate, Deputy Commissioner of the area and a registrar of the Delhi High Court. The redemarcation this time, too, proved encroachment.
The PWD terms the gates “encroachment” and says it “falls within the right of way” but refuses to take any action. Last
week, PWD executive engineer Bhagirathi Yadav filed an affidavit in the court saying: “As per the DDA zonal plan, the Ring Road at Ashram Chowk has a 64-metre right of way and pursuant to the order dated 29.02.08, demarcation was carried out on March 3, 2008. The portion on which the gates are installed on both ends falls within the 64-metre right of way”.
A Bench of justice Vikramjit Sen and justice Mukta Gupta will take up the affidavit for hearing on November 11.
The RWA feels only a strong order from the court can provide them relief.
Interestingly, the PIL also alleges: “Manager of Analco Marketing boasts to the area residents that he and his family members have strong political connections and no can dare do anything to their properties.”
All efforts to contact the lawyers of the two parties — M/S Analco Marketing (Pvt) Ltd and Anil Kejriwal — failed. However, in its defence in court, the lawyer for M/S Analco Marketing (Pvt) Ltd said that they obtained a court injunction in 1988.
"Therefore, any step to dispossess us of the land amounts to contempt of court."Kejriwal’s lawyer said in court that, there was no encroachment. "The land on which the gate has been erected was not part of the land acquired by the government." Blocked service road