Though the municipal corporation (MC) got over 250 illegally occupied flats meant for urban poor vacated at Giaspura on Thursday, it has completely failed to act against commercial and industrial encroachments, allegedly owned by influential persons, throughout the city.
Despite clear directions from the Punjab Haryana high court, the MC has been sitting on several such complaints against those who enjoy political patronage. Pertinently, around 6,300 encroachments have been found after a civil writ petition was filed in the high court in 2003. But, due to ‘political interference’, the MC has allegedly turned a blind eye to 4,000 identified permanent encroachments — commercial and industrial establishments. Of these, around 2,000 encroachments nearly 30% are in the areas under the town planning schemes.
Most of the commercial encroachments (permanent) have been raised at Talab Bazar, Kamla Nehru market, Hargobind Marg, Karimpura Bazaar, Chaura Bazaar, Gur Mandi and other markets. Several industrial encroachments have been raised in Industrial Area-A, but the MC chooses to ignore such violations.
Besides, the MC has failed to raze encroachments at the parks in over 50 different locations of the city; the markets are flooded with temporary encroachments.
RTI activist Kuldeep Singh Khaira said, “Though the decision to vacate illegally-occupied flats at Giaspura was right, the MC generally avoids taking action against the encroachers backed by political leaders. The authorities concerned should shun this pick and choose policy, and take action against all violators.”
Colonel JS Brar, member of the Anti-encroachment Monitoring Committee, said, “The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the civic body to ensure all encroachments be removed, but mostly, the MC chooses to ignore the directions. Just like the MC acted against the illegally occupied flats on Thursday, it should also act against the encroachments raised by influential persons.”
The land at Bhai Randhir Singh was reserved for a shooting range, but it has been encroached upon by a political leader, and the MC is behaving as a mute spectator.
It has been learnt that the MC has many times cancelled its plans to take action against the commercial establishments.
Municipal town planner Kamaljeet Kaur said the MC House will soon take a decision over the issue of alleged encroachments in Chaura Bazaar. “In compliance with the court orders, we are taking all the necessary action against encroachers,” said MC commissioner GK Singh Dhaliwal.