Municipal Corporation (MC) officials who were set to remove 130 illegal encroachments in Pavitar Nagar area here were left red-faced after political pressure forced them to defer the drive on Tuesday. The drive at Sem Nullah at Pavitar Nagar was postponed earlier as well, on December 21 last year.
MC teams from different wings had reached their Zone-D office early in the morning, along with a heavy contingent of police, to take care of the law-and-order situation. The situation had turned volatile at a similar drive last year when residents of the area, whose 'illegal' homes were to be demolished, pelted stones at the MC teams.
The MC was left embarrassed due to intervention of political leaders who reached the camp office of mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria and asked him to defer the drive. Leaders irrespective of party line tried to score a point by stopping the demolition drive which was to be done on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The MC teams and police personnel had to wait for final orders to remove illegal encroachments on Sem Nullah when mayor and MC commissioner Shruti Singh asked them to postpone the drive.
Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, SAD MP candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali, Congress councillor Haibowal Maharaj Singh Raji, former BJP state president Rajinder Bhandari and BJP district president Parveen Bansal, tried to take political advantage of the situation, among others.
They held a meeting with the mayor in an air-conditioned room of the camp office, while the MC teams waited for a nod for hours in the scorching heat.
According to sources, the leaders tried to pursue their point to the mayor that the anti-encroachment drive should not be given a go ahead.
The MC commissioner said that the information regarding the drive was 'leaked' as a result of which it had to be deferred. “We did not want damage to any person or property as the news of the anti-encroachment drive was leaked,” she said, adding that there was no political pressure due to which the drive was cancelled.
On the other hand, mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria said he was not informed about the drive by MC officials, and that was the reason why he asked them to return. “I have also written a letter to
the MC commissioner asking her to inform me about any such drive in advance,” he added.
Interestingly, while the commissioner and mayor were refuting any political pressure, political leaders claimed that the drive was wrong and should not be held as it could lead to resentment among residents.
Bharat Bhushan said MC had no right to demolish people's homes constructed years ago. He also claimed that land along Sem Nullah in Joshi Nagar area had been allotted to different people, including MC officials, but no action was taken at that point. “Why does MC want to act only at Pavitar Nagar,” he questioned.
Surprisingly, MC officials and police personnel were asked to move to Gumar Mandi for an anti-encroachment drive at around 1pm, which was also cancelled later owing to political pressure.