Delhi officials target illegally parked cars, squatters that came back
Amid strong resistance from shopkeepers, civic agencies and the police launched a crackdown on against encroachments and illegally parked vehicles that had returned to south Delhi’s busy Aurobindo Marg and RK Puram neighbourhoods just hours after they had been cleared of illegal constructions.
The action came after HT reported on Friday and Saturday about the return of squatters, and illegal parking, worsening congestion in the neighbourhoods that had been cleared only on Tuesday of encroachments and wrongly parked vehicles. Encroachers had built new structures on the pavements along Vivekanand Marg and Church Road in RK Puram.
South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) demolished all illegal structures at RK Puram on Friday night. The civic body’s anti-encroachment squad impounded illegally parked vehicles from Aurobindo Marg on Saturday. The teams also seized goods piled on pavements.
As an SDMC squad began action at the Yusuf Sarai market on Aurbindo Marg around 11 am on Saturday, a group of shopkeepers gathered to protest against the drive. A faceoff resulted when the protestors tried to stop the removal of encroachments, prompting the squad to pull back briefly.
The team, backed by additional policemen from the Hauz Khas police station, resumed the drive at 1 pm; it continued until 5 pm.
Romil Baaniya, deputy commissioner of police, south district, said the police had co-operated with municipal corporation officials in the anti-encroachment drive on Aurbindo Marg, ensuring that it was successful.
“However, when the request for providing force to carry out the anti-encroachment drive comes at the last moment ,it becomes difficult to mobilise staff. We would appreciate if the civic agency provides information at least 4-5 days in advance so that we can plan things accordingly,” he said.
The team seized 84 vehicles while the police stood guard.
“A stretch of four kms on this road was cleared for the pedestrians by removing encroachments on roads and footpaths. To ensure such a scuffle does not occur again in future, we will organise a meeting with police a day in advance so that there will be close coordination among these departments,” said Vishwendra, deputy commissioner, south zone.
Shopkeepers said they were being victimised in a bureaucratic tussle. “We are being targeted unnecessarily. If we were wrong, we should have been stopped at the beginning itself. Why this action after decades,” said Rajeev Gupta, a shopkeeper.
SK Verma, owner of a sanitary storer, said the pavements on both sides of Aurobindo Marg had been permanently’ occupied by shopkeepers for keeping excess inventory. “This leaves no space for pedestrians to move. They even parked their cars in two lanes along the roads even after the repeated drives of traffic police,” he said.