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Clear the mess

The demolition drive in Delhi will continue but what about the rubble that is left over, asks Anoopam S Thapa.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2006 16:03 IST

February 1. The day when the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) bulldozers started tearing down one of the city’s top shopping destinations — 1, MG Road, fol lowed by other high-profile commercial establishments falling in the Lal Dora region, so on and so forth — as part of its demolition drive against unauthorised properties.

And today, almost five-and-a-half months later what remains — the partially demolished buildings — not just on MG Road but elsewhere in the Capital, which are nothing but an eyesore.

Looks do matter

But why isn’t the MCD swinging into action to remove these structures? The authorities it seems are ignorant (if not, they are pretending to be one) of the fact that these structures pose a great threat to the neighbouring properties, especially in the monsoons.

Even the pedestrians and vehicles travelling on the roads, in and around these partially demolished buildings, aren’t safe. While the owners are pinning their hopes on the Tejinder Khanna Committee report and subsequent changes in the Master Plan for Delhi-2001, the architects, and planners want the civic body and the authorities to take immediate action and remove these eyesores altogether.

“These structures, especially the ones on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, deface the general ambience of the whole area. MCD has merely broken down the front portion of these illegal structures while leaving the whole building as it is,” a south district revenue official was quoted as saying. And if it had undertaken the drive to demolish the illegal structures, it should clear the mess as well.

And Sarat C Jain of the Architects Bureau agrees, “Not only these structures are an eyesore, spoiling the beauty of the city, they are dangerous too. These partially demolished structures can fall anytime, raising concerns of safety of the residents, pedestrians and commuters on the road adjoining these buildings. The authorities must act immediately to remove them.”

Financial concerns

As the city prepares itself to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the MCD needs to puts its act together and resolve the issue of this lurking threat. And there is a law where the civic body can issue notices to owners of the building which it considers are dangerous. “Yes, there’s a law where we can declare the building dangerous and issue notice to bring it down,” says MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur.

And the best part of the whole exercise is that the total cost involved in the removal of the malba will be borne by the owners whose properties were partially or fully demolished, and not by the MCD. If the parties fail to furnish the demolition charges, they would be served distress warrant and their properties would be attached. That provision does provide some incentive to the civic body to clear the city of these black spots.