Sandip Saini (37) still remembers the time in his childhood when he would step out of his home to see the buffalos from entire village leisurely wading through the johar (a small community water body) in the Khirki village near Select City Walk in south Delhi.
But as he grew up, the water body continued to shrink due to encroachment from all sides. And unfortunately, all that remains in place of the water body today, is a fairly well maintained lush green park, with a board declaring it as a private park.
A road runs around the park. There are neat row of houses on northern and western sides at the edge of the erstwhile johar (also being called jhor in some official records).
Revenue records demarcate the entire water body as 7.17 bigha (approximately 2.86 acres) with 7.17 bigha as johar and .04 bigha as a well. A family has been occupying a plot of land on the northeastern edge of the johar.
Another resident Anish Kumar (40) said, “We had even won a case to free this plot of land from encroachment way back in 1940s from the Lahore Court then. This is very much part of the johar. This family continues to occupy it.”
Countered Sumitra Saini, “No portion of our land is part of the johar. Instead, up to 50 feet of land from the road towards the rows of houses on the northern side is originally part of the water body.”
Her clan member 80-year-old Balbir Singh Saini said, “Our family has been staying here for generations. Hamara hukka paani yaha chalta tha (we used to spend time with the community members here)”
The Delhi High Court, in connection with a PIL filed by Vinod Jain of NGO Tapas, had ordered demolition of encroachment earlier last year. When no action was taken, a contempt petition was filed. The court gave contempt notice, following which the agencies filed an affidavit that demolition would take place on Friday, July 23, 2010.
Deputy Commissioner Revenue (South) Vivek Pande, Tehsildar (Mehrauli) Sameer Sharma and SDM Juhi Mukherji visited the place around 4.00 p.m. on Thursday.
After inspecting the whole area, Pande appealed to the people, “We are bound by the high court orders. Please cooperate with us.”