Civic agencies in east Delhi have begun a crack down on illegal encroachments in Anand Vihar, following a Delhi High Court directive to decongest roads and bring down the alarming levels of pollution in the area.
On February 2, the HC issued notices to senior officials of civic bodies and government departments asking them to appear before it on February 16 explaining the reasons for “failure” to comply with its order to remove debris, controlling encroachments and traffic jams.
An EDMC official said the presence of hawkers in the area causes traffic jams, leading to congestion and higher concentration of pollutants.
Air quality levels in Anand Vihar have been the worst compared to other areas like Civil Lines, Punjabi Bagh, Mandir Marg and RK Puram. This is primarily because the area has a toxic combination of industries located in the neighbouring Sahibabad area in Ghaziabad, a busy bus terminal and the Ghazipur landfill site.
Hundreds of diesel-belching interstate buses that enter the terminal make the air in the area worse than the rest of Delhi. As a result, traffic snarls are common in the area and vehicular emissions add to the already polluted air. There have been a number of plans to decongest Anand Vihar. While some remained on paper, others were shoddily implemented.
Other areas like Mayur Vihar Phase 1, 2 and 3, New Ashok Nagar and Akshardham also suffer due to their close proximity with Anand Vihar.
On February 3, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, along with other concerned departments, carried out an intensive drive and removed over 130 temporary shops. It also confiscated their items.
The corporation announced the continuation of this drive every day (except on weekends), till February 28.
A senior EDMC official from Shahdara South zone said, “On Friday a team of officials from health, sanitation and civil department visited the place and removed all the encroachment on both side of road no. 56 (approach road to Anand Vihar ISBT).”
There are no markets allowed on this stretch, still people put up stalls to sell items, which led to massive traffic jams.
“However, we didn’t take coercive action against 114 temporary shopkeepers who were part of the Mahila Hawkers Association and filed a writ petition in count in May 2016 for allowing them to put up their stalls for earning a livelihood,” the official added.
EDMC officials said that although the anti-encroachment drive was carried out on January 28, 29 and 31, the defaulters reappeared within two days.
“To overcome this situation, we have written to the Delhi Police to keep a watch on them through beat officers and inform us in case of their re-occurrence. We are also in touch with the Public Works Department and the traffic police and have requested them to remove the debris and challan vehicles parked on road sides,” an EDMC official said.
Besides, the corporation is on a drive to confiscate old and abandoned vehicles in both Shahdara South and Shahdara North Zone, on the directive of the National Green Tribunal.
“We have confiscated over 85 vehicles in last one month. Most of them were old, parked on roads for years and obstructing cleaning work. But we don’t have space to keep them in our stores so we have written to the transport department to find out a solution for dealing with such vehicles,” the official added.