South civic body puts off sealing in Delhi’s Amar Colony
A drive to seal properties misusing municipal laws in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, which was scheduled to take place on June 25, was deferred by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Monday after the matter took a political turn.
Members of the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, though, said they would “go ahead” with the original plan. “We will go ahead as planned. If not given support by enforcement agencies, we will present the facts in the court,” said a member on the condition of anonymity. However, the south body maintained that Tuesday’s drive had been called off.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposed the sealing drive.
“The decision has been taken after the land and development office (L&DO) of the ministry of housing and urban affairs on Monday clarified that these tenements enjoy immunity under the Special Provisions Act, 2011, as the unauthorised constructions in these tenements existed before 2006,” SDMC spokesperson Radha Krishna said.
The SDMC said the latest orders postponing the scheduled sealing action had also been conveyed to the police.
The sealing drive was scheduled to take place on June 25, upon the directions of the monitoring committee.
On the directions of the three-member monitoring committee, the SDMC had last week issued 48-hour notices to as many as 250 properties at blocks four, five and six of the Old Double Storey in Lajpat Nagar for misuse of land, and encroachment.
A senior SDMC official said the Double Storey in Lajpat Nagar was developed in 1950s, and residential buildings were allotted to refugees who had migrated from Pakistan during partition.
The drive started in December 2017 from south Delhi’s Defence Colony on the directions of the SC-appointed committee, after a lull of over a decade.
In March last year, the civic agency sealed 350 shops in Amar Colony market for misusing public land and encroaching on the common space in front of and behind their properties, which was meant for movement of pedestrians. The sealings were met with violent protests after residents scuffled with SDMC officials, forcing the police to intervene and resort to lathi-charges to control the situation.
On Monday, AAP leader and Delhi’s urban development minister Satyendar Jain also said that sealing in Lajpat Nagar cannot be done as the tenements were covered under the Special Provisions Act 2011.
“Sealings cannot be carried out in Amar Colony because all buildings have been built before 2009 and are protection under the law of Special Provision Act 2011. It is not just Amar Colony, but all parts of Delhi that are covered under this. If the sealing is carried on despite this, it will be in gross violation of the Act of Parliament, which will have no meaning left,” Jain said.
The Congress councillor in SDMC from Andrews Ganj, Abhishek Dutt, said that as per the Master Plan of Delhi, Old Double Storey is covered in the list of pre-1962 built residential and rehabilitation colonies. He added that the Master Plan talks of providing benefits, as per the 2011 Act. “There should be no sealing in Lajpat Nagar now. What they (SDMC) have done in the last minute could have been done one-and-a-half years ago,” he said.
Delhi BJP general secretary Kuljeet Chahal said, “The BJP is against any kind of sealing. The shops and buildings in which unauthorised constructions have been made are protected from sealing under the Act.”