ONE MORE time the anti-encroachment drive of Lucknow Municipal Corporation failed to succeed. This time the corporation had swooped on Saturday as per schedule on Nazirabad, Kaiserbagh and Aminbad.
The blame game started soon after the failure of the drive as the date for the hearing of the Nishatganj case came closer. Municipal chief Ram Bodh Maurya blamed the district administration and timidness of city magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh for the failure of the drive.
“The city magistrate didn’t want any tension with the squatters of the area. It was his decision to get out of the drive even though he had optimum police force to back him,” said municipal commissioner.
Maurya added, “He was better placed to decide on the situation, which was getting volatile when the LMC’s anti-encroachment squad reached the Nazirabad Sabzi Mandi. He decided to call off the drive though our squad was ready.”
City magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh countered the allegation of the municipal commissioner and told HT Lucknow Live, “The drive was cancelled because there was lack of police force. There were only five policemen with and one SI to tackle the mob. I was the one who faced them. The municipal commissioner was not even present on the spot. Since there was a traders’ bandh today, the CO of the area was on special duty and I decided to conduct the drive with the adequate force on some other day.”
The squatters at Nazirabad gathered in large numbers on Saturday morning when they came to know about the LMC’s anti- encroachment drive and started calling up their political mentors. The latter in turn talked to the officials and suddenly the drive was cancelled.
The squatters encroached upon the road and are a great nuisance for people visiting the market. Hardly ten feet of road is left for vehicles to ply. Since squatters belong to a specific community, they form a major vote bank for political parties to lure.
Some of the squatters got on top of the LMC’s bulldozers and threatened to beat up the officials present. The police was present with the officials in good number but the administration and LMC officials never had the will to conduct the drive by taking the risk.
District magistrate Ramendra Tripathi said , “I was not aware of today’s anti-encroachment drive as I was busy in other programmes in the rural areas. I will first ask the city magistrate to report the situation and then comment on the issue.”
Meanwhile, LMC got 50 bigha of land freed from encroachers on the banks of Gomti in a major drive on Saturday, claimed the municipal chief. Maurya claimed to have removed the 40 encroachments from the land against a total of 275 encroachments that were required to be removed.