Decks cleared for demolition of houses in Khori village
On June 7, the Supreme Court had directed the MCF to “take all essential measures to remove encroachments on the subject forest land without any exception, not later than six weeks” from the date of the order. Since then, residents of Khori village have been protesting against the order, seeking rehabilitation
Ahead of a full-fledged demolition drive in Khori village of Faridabad, officials on Thursday razed all buildings at the entry and exit points of the village to clear the passageways for vehicles to reach constructions inside the village.
Officials said that more than 100 houses that were partly demolished in a drive on June 16 were completely razed and the ground levelled. A joint team of the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF), police and district administration initiated the process, while residents were asked to evacuate the village at the earliest ahead of the Supreme Court-ordered demolition drive.
Yashpal Yadav, the deputy commissioner of Faridabad, said that they have cleared the portions that were demolished in previous drives so that residents do not reconstruct their houses using the construction and demolition (C&D) debris. “We are set to start the drive and have given the last chance for residents to remove their valuables and belongings from their houses, as, once the drive starts, they might lose their valuables. We will not be responsible for any loss,” Yadav said.
Four excavation-cum-loader machines, earthmovers and trucks, to ferry debris, were parked outside the village, while the police barricaded the entry and exit points. Visitors were not allowed to enter the village. The trucks made around 100 trips to shift the debris and clear the route, said officials.
The drive started around 7.30am on Thursday, when most residents were at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to participate in a demonstration.
On June 7, the Supreme Court had directed the MCF to “take all essential measures to remove encroachments on the subject forest land without any exception, not later than six weeks” from the date of the order. Since then, residents of Khori village have been protesting against the order, seeking rehabilitation.
Yadav said that they will now start demolishing all unauthorised houses. “We have assigned the responsibilities to four duty magistrates, who, along with police, will carry out the drive. Also, we have constituted 10 teams, that will have officials from civic agencies and police,” he said.
Yadav chaired a meeting on Thursday with the district administration officials, police and MCF to review the preparations for the drive.
Residents said that despite pressure from the police and the administration, many do not have alternative places to go to.
Fifty-two-year-old Kamla Devi, a resident, said, “We are ready to move to the rehabilitation site but where is it? Where will we take our children if we move out? Despite having so many resources, they (authorities) are unable to find a solution and are expecting us to fend for ourselves.”
Some residents, however, insist that they will not leave their homes until they are accommodated elsewhere.
“Heavy police deployment is seen every day. They come to us and threaten us to leave at the earliest. This has been happening for the past week. We are being treated as criminals, who are not allowed to move in or out, and are also being deprived of basic amenities,” said Hari Singh, a resident.
Faridabad Police said their personnel are equipped with anti-riot equipment to handle any escalation of the law and order situation. Senior officials said they are expecting resistance and stone-pelting when the drive starts.
OP Singh, the commissioner of police, Faridabad, said that the police personnel were not threatening residents and were only requesting them to vacate the village. “We are only following the apex court’s order and helping the civic agencies with the demolition drive. The teams are deployed for their safety and security, and are even helping them shift out,” he said.