More buildings razed in Mehrauli, Delhi govt orders fresh land assessment

BySadia Akhtar
Feb 12, 2023 02:18 AM IST

Delhi revenue minister Kailash Gahlot has directed the district magistrate (South) to conduct a fresh demarcation of the land in the area and inform the land-owning agency about it

The Delhi Development Authority continued its demolition drive for the second day on Saturday in Mehrauli’s Aam Bagh area, razing a four-storey building and five structures nearby even as Delhi revenue minister Kailash Gahlot directed the district magistrate (South) to conduct a fresh demarcation of the land in the area and inform the land-owning agency about it.

Residents protest against the anti-encroachment drive by DDA at Meharauli in New Delhi on Saturday. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Residents protest against the anti-encroachment drive by DDA at Meharauli in New Delhi on Saturday. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

DDA partially demolished a couple of houses, some of those were under-construction, and some shanties in the same area on Friday.

Teams of DDA officials first brought down the four-storey structure, Orchid Apartments, amid protests by residents of the building and other local residents. Then, around 4.30, the agency’s bulldozers proceeded ahead in the Jharna area in the vicinity of the apartment, and demolished around 4-5 houses there.

Also read | Delhi government asks DDA to halt Mehrauli demolition, seeks fresh demarcation

In a written statement on Saturday, DDA said that it had started a demolition drive from Friday for the removal of encroachment from the DDA land of Ladha Sarai Village falling in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, and around 1200 square.metres of land has been reclaimed so far.

The agency added that a demarcation exercise had been carried out on the directions of the Delhi high court in the presence of DDA and the Waqf Board representatives by the state government’s revenue department in December 2021. It said the aim of the current drive was to “reclaim encroached government land for its rightful use by all citizens as a park”.

Residents, however, said that a 2017 land demarcation exercise did not include the areas where demolition was being carried out now. “Buildings are not constructed in one day. Why did the DDA and other agencies not say anything when they were being constructed? Why did the revenue department not inform residents when the fresh demarcation was carried out? This is a nexus between politicians from all parties and DDA officials who colluded with builders and are now making us suffer. They are passing the buck among themselves while common people suffer,” said a resident, who asked not to be named.

Revenue minister Gahlot on Saturday said several people from the area have approached him to complain about the ongoing demolition drive. “Many residents of Village Ladha Sarai have represented against DDA’s demolition drive on the basis of faulty demarcation. I have advised Divisional Commissioner & DM south to carry out fresh demarcation in the presence of affected persons,” Gahlot tweeted.

Gahlot said that the earlier demarcation was conducted without serving any notices to the occupants. “In a meeting on Friday, it was admitted by revenue officials that before the demarcation of the khasra in question, no notice was served to the occupants, and obviously there was no participation of the said occupants at the time of conducting the said demarcation,” the minister said.

Zeenat Parveen, a mother of three children, who lived on the top floor of the Orchid Apartments, was seen rummaging through a pile of documents and books that lay scattered amid debris outside her house after the building was brought down by DDA bulldozer. The building comprised 2 BHK flats

A distraught Parveen wailed and wondered why the DDA did not give any prior notice before demolishing her flat. “Last night, around 9, two police officials came to our house and asked us to vacate it by morning. How can one vacate an entire house at such short notice? We have documents, land registry, and other identity cards issued on this address yet the DDA demolished the building without any notice,” said Parveen.

She added that her children had exams from Monday but the family was left with no recourse. “My daughter has an exam on Monday. We slogged hard to secure a house and provide education to our children but we are back to ground zero without a roof over our head,” said Parveen. .

The building housed nine families. Raju Khertala’s family was among them.

Khertala, whose daughter is scheduled to get married later this month, was distraught. “My daughter’s wedding is in two weeks from now. We are helpless and don’t know what to do anymore. I have borrowed money for my daughter’s wedding. All the bookings have been made but how do we continue with the wedding when our house was razed in front of us? We incurred expenses for the wedding, took a loan, but no longer have a house,” said Khertala, while sitting outside his house.

He said that he had not received any order or notice although two policemen orally asked the family to vacate the flat late last night. “I requested the police and informed them that my daughter is getting married soon but our house was demolished,” said Khertala, who has been living in the apartment since 2019.

He said that he had land registry documents, an electricity meter, and other identity documents issued at the address and had no idea about DDA’s involvement. “The builder who sold the flat is no longer taking our calls. However, our flat is registered and is very much legal. How can anyone construct an illegal building without the knowledge of government agencies? Why did they allow the construction of the building if there was an issue,” said Khertala.

Sahira Bano, 60, grew up in Mehrauli, said that her mother-in-law had a ration card issued to the address of the house that was demolished by the DDA on Saturday. Sitting on the pile of rubble from her house in the Jharna locality, Bano said that the family had 11-12 members but no roof over the head. “My parents used to live in the area. My mother-in-law has a ration card issued to this address. We have lived here for decades but nothing ever happened. We were not given any notice and ten minutes before the demolition, they asked us to vacate our house and get out. Within minutes, our house was demolished before our eyes. We have three daughters. We don’t know how we will stay here at night in the open,” said Bano.

The family has no earning member and largely survives on meager earnings that Bano receives for teaching Quran to neighbourhood children. “They gave us 10 minutes to vacate. We didn’t get any notice at any point. The notice was posted on high-rise buildings but not here,” added her daughter Shaheen.

Gulam Mustafa, another resident whose house was demolished, said that he had lived in the house for 16 years. Mustafa said the government had displaced families without any rehabilitation or compensation. “The government should give us compensation. We took debt to make this house. It took us years to pay off the money that we had offered. Now, even this house has been snatched from us. It took me a lifetime to make this house and in minutes it was razed to dust. We will sit here in the open till the Delhi government gives us compensation,” said Mustafa, who works as a tailor.

According to the DDA’s letter to deputy commissioner of police, South, the demolition drive will continue till March 9 or till the completion of the demolition programme. Residents at Andheria Mor in the same area where the demolition order was pasted in December also started a sit-in protest on Saturday evening.

Deputy commissioner of police (south) Chandan Chowdhary said that adequate number of personnel were deployed to maintain law and order during the demolition. “Everything happened peacefully and we did not detain anyone,” she said.


    Sadia Akhtar is a reporter at Hindustan Times where she covers education, heritage, and a range of feature stories. She also writes about refugee communities and tracks stories at the intersection of gender and social justice. Before joining HT's Delhi team, she reported from Gurugram and Mewat where she tracked politics, education, and heritage.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals