The Delhi High court on Thursday asked the MCD and DDA to observe restraint while demolishing religious structures on the banks of the Yamuna.
This comes amidst protests over demolition of some ancient temples by the civic bodies as part of the drive to clear the riverbank of encroachments for implementing the Yamuna redevelopment plan.
The direction came on a petition filed by the Yamuna Ghat Pandas (priests) Association against the demolition of a Shiva and Hanuman temple in Yamuna Bazar area.
Their counsel Ashok Bhan accused the the DDA and MCD of "acting like the Taliban which demolished the ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues."
He said both the temples were more than 250 years old and even found mention in the 'puranas'.
Taking serious view of the issue, a Division Bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kailash Gambhir asked the agencies to be "careful in this regard" and not to hurt the religious sentiments of anybody".
"By such acts contrary to the court's order you are conveying a message that the courts are insensitive. We respect all religions and community", said Justice Jain.
The Bench specified that only the new religious structures which have sprouted on the river bed and abutting the banks were to be demolished and not the ancient ones.
Touching on yet another sensitive issue, the court asked the Delhi Government and the Yamuna Removal of Encroachments Committee to take immediate steps to rehabilitate the Tibetans in Majnu Ka Tila refugee camp and ISBT facing demolition for expansion of a highway and beautification of the Yamuna river area.
Appointing the Chief Secretary of NCT as the nodal officer, the court asked him to take up the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Urban Development Ministry and work out the modalities in four weeks.
The MCD’s sealing drive gained a little momentum on Thursday as it sealed more than 300 properties for misuse and unauthorized construction. While MCD’s sealing drive in the previous few days were marked by confusion, on Thursday they had smooth sailing, at least in Lajpat Nagar. The MCD Central zone team had already surveyed the Old Double Story area of Lajpat Nagar-IV on Wednesday while other teams carried out sealing in other areas. This helped them on Thursday as they knew exactly which shops to seal. A total 13 properties were sealed in the area.
In other areas under Central zone, an encroachment removal drive was carried out in GK-II and demolition action was taken in three flats in Sukhdev Vihar for ongoing construction. A survey was also conducted in New Friends Colony, Sarita Vihar, Govind Puri and Amar Colony. In South zone, four properties were sealed in Malviya Nagar including building material shops in basement.