The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) often cites the scarcity of land in the Capital for its inability to come up with more sub-cities on the lines of Dwarka and Rohini.
On the other hand, about 1,500 acres of DDA land - an area big enough to accommodate 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Stadiums - has been encroached upon.
DDA has been facing the problem of its land being encroached upon for many years now. "It is a vicious cycle. Whenever we manage to remove encroachments and vacate land, encroachers soon come back," said a senior DDA official who didn't wish to be named.
Though DDA regularly carries out demolition drives to remove the encroachments, the authority usually takes months to put boundary walls or fencing around the land and encroachers come back within days.
It is to counter this vicious cycle that DDA is now on a mission to enclose all its vacant land with boundary walls or barbwire fencing. "In this financial year (2013-14), we plan to protect all our vacant land and land vacated by encroachments as soon as possible so that encroachers are not able to settle back again," the official said.
Though DDA didn't disclose the budget for its special anti-encroachment fencing drive, it is expected to run into quite a few crores of rupees.
It is on a spree to hire contractors for the job, starting with the north and north-west zone first.
"We have been able to reclaim 197 acres of encroached land in different parts of the city and work is on at a war footing to protect this land by putting up boundary walls and fencing," the official said.
The areas where DDA has managed to vacate and reclaim encroached upon land include Narela, Prahladpur Bangar, Tejpur, Tikri Khurd, Najafgarh, Mubarakpur, Masoodabad, Madanpur Dabas, Bijwasan, etc. Enclosing these areas would mean fencing or boundary walls that would be around 20 km long.
"These areas have been recently emptied of encroachers and work is on to immediately fence these areas to avoid re-encroachments," he said.
There are also plans to give the contract of enclosing all vacant land to one contractor on a running rate to avoid re-tendering of civil work. "This would save a lot of time and prove to be a permanent anti-encroachment measure," he said.