Owners of unsafe dwellings move court against MC demolition drive

  • Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2014 00:17 IST

Even as nine people were killed on Friday in incidents of roof collapse triggered by incessant rain in the region, occupants of unsafe buildings in the walled city have approached a local court seeking a stay on demolition of their dwellings by the miunicipal corporation.

Propelled by the Friday tragedy, the lethargic corporation on Saturday swung into action to demolish unsafe buildings to avert a tragedy, but withdrew quickly as the residents approached the court for a stay order.

Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said: "We have come to know that some of the occupants of unsafe buildings have approached the court seeking a stay order, while others are not willing to leave."

Number of buildings

As many as 119 unsafe buildings had been identified by a survey conducted by the corporation in 2004; however, a recent survey records the number at 143.
These buildings are located in narrow, but busy lanes of the walled city and despite their dilapidated condition the buildings are being used as shops-cum-residences.
"It's ironic that occupants are not willing to vacate these structures despite threat looming large to their lives," said an MC official.

Working in rain, but in vain

In the name of a demolition drive, the MC has removed extensions on terraces of some of the unsafe structures in the walled city area on Saturday, but the drive came to an end as soon as rain ceased. However, the civic authorities have been citing various reasons for the withdrawal, including residents approaching the court.
Last year too, the MC had undertaken demolition drive when many unsafe structures caved in due to heavy downpour, but the drive was withdrawn when the rain stopped.

Demolition drive mere an eyewash

Residents feel that demolition drives are mere eyewash, because the civic body removes just a portion of unsafe structures rather razing them.

Easier said than done

Stating that the MC was serious about dealing with unsafe buildings, the municipal commissioner said the task was not as easy as it appeared to be, as many buildings were embroiled in legal disputes of various kinds.
"Besides majority of occupants are economically backward hence cannot afford to relocate as a result MC is forced to take a sympathetic view of the issue," he said.

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