PWD demolishes illegal slums near Pragati Maidan
The Delhi government has started a demolition drive to remove approximately 50 illegal structures in a slum cluster near Pragati Maidan. The action led to traffic chaos in the central and east parts of the city during the morning rush hour. The move follows a Delhi high court hearing on 2 May, during which the court refused to stay the demolition drive against the illegal JJ cluster and gave residents until 31 May to vacate the area.
The government’s public works department (PWD) on Thursday morning started a demolition drive at the slum cluster on Bhairon Marg near Pragati Maidan to remove about 50 illegal structures.
This is following a Delhi high court hearing on May 2 wherein the court refused to stay the demolition drive against the illegal JJ cluster and gave the inhabitants time till May 31 to vacate the area.
The anti-encroachment drive on Thursday also led to much traffic chaos during the peak morning hours across parts of central and east Delhi. PWD officials said that commuters travelling from Mayur Vihar, Akshardham and Noida faced delays with most of the traffic getting diverted towards ITO and IP estate.
“The diversion was brief, and the entire process took about an hour. However, that led to congestion throughout this area for most of the peak hours. No major traffic jam was reported but traffic was largely slowed down,” said a senior traffic police official.
The convention centre at Pragati Maidan is expected to host one of the major G20 summit events in September this year. As part of the revamp and beautification drive around the venue, the PWD had asked the inhabitants to vacate the area in front Pragati Maidan’s gate number 1 in January this year. Nearly 50 slum dwellings fall within this area that spills on to the main road pavement.
In February, the occupants of these 50 dwellings approached the high court claiming that their homes were a part of the notified JJ cluster of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB). However, after an initial stay, the court finally refused to intervene in the demolition drive. The court had earlier sought a response from DUSIB, which submitted that this area was not part of its JJ cluster.
“About 50 shanties have been removed as per the HC order. We will now be clearing the rubble and making the pavement walkable and safe for pedestrians along with general greenery work in the area. A cow shelter nearby had applied for a stay order that has been granted. So, we have not removed it,” said a PWD official.
While PWD officials said that DUSIB will help resettle the 50 displaced families at the Geeta Colony JJ cluster, DUSIB officials denied.
“If there are encroachers in any area, the relevant authority can give notice and evict them. We are not liable for the rehabilitation of encroachers. However, there are sufficient night shelters where these families can stay across the city,” said a senior DUSIB official.