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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Amid protests, 50 houses, shops razed at Khuda Alisher

Estate office carries out drive to remove illegal structures outside ‘lal dora’ on HC’s order.

punjab Updated: Apr 28, 2018 15:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
An earth-moving machine demolishing a structure at Khuda Alisher village in Chandigarh on Friday.
An earth-moving machine demolishing a structure at Khuda Alisher village in Chandigarh on Friday.(Sikander Singh Chopra/HT)

Amid protests and deployment of heavy police force, the Chandigarh estate office on Friday demolished around 50 illegal houses and shops built outside the ‘lal dora’ at Khuda Alisher village. The village is situated in the city’s north, near the Capitol Complex.

‘Lal dora’ is an extension of the village habitation, which can be used for non-agricultural purposes, such as keeping livestock. The land revenue department marks these areas by tying a red thread (lal dor) as its boundary. Any construction on it is considered illegal. 

The drive that began around 10am continued till 5pm. Led by subdivisional magistrates Arjun Sharma and Virat, it was conducted on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court.

As residents heard the sound of earth-moving machines that reached there to demolish their houses, they started raising slogans against the UT administration. Later, even Congress leaders reached there to support them.

Residents left roofless during the drive sitting with their belongings. Two women fainted and were rushed to hospital.
Residents left roofless during the drive sitting with their belongings. Two women fainted and were rushed to hospital. ( Sikander Singh Chopra/HT )

‘Where will we go?’

The residents, who did not get a chance to move their households items, were seen urging the authorities to not demolish their houses. As women and children could be seen in tears, the civic defence team took out the goods from houses before razing them.

Some people even lied down before the JCB machine, but were detained. Two women who fell unconscious were rushed to hospital while an elderly person suffered injuries on his hand during the drive. 

Tarlochan Singh, whose house was demolished, said: “I built the house, spending Rs 10 lakh. I had been staying here for the past seven years. The administration did not even issue a notice. Where should I take my children now.” 

Sharing a similar plight, Mohammad Jahangir, another affected man, said: “I was staying here for the past several years and spent ₹9 lakh on the house after getting it registered. They did not even give us time to vacate our houses. Where will my family spend the night?”

Sitting outside his demolished house with his belongings scattered all around, Megraj said: “Spending my hard-earned money, I bought a house for Rs 7 lakh. It was turned into rubble right in front of my eyes.” 

Cong workers detained 

Senior congress leaders, including former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Chandigarh Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra, reached the village along with party workers and protested against the authorities.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been exposed. It is not with the poor. The way the houses were demolished was inhuman,” said Bansal. Police detained the protesting party workers, though they were let off later.

SDM Arjun Sharma said: “The drive was carried out on high court directions. We have to submit a compliance report in court. Prior notices were given to the residents, but most of them did not vacate their houses.”

In all, there are around 3,000 illegal constructions in Chandigarh villages, with around 10,000 people residing in these. The constructions include both slums and small industrial units. In the last one year, the estate office has issued notices to around 600 squatters.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had originally passed the orders to demolish the illegal structures in 2003.

In case of Khuda Alisher and some other villages, the illegality of these structures also stems from the fact that these have come up in the Sukhna’s catchment area. To maintain the ecology of the catchment area for restoring the lake, the high court had issued directions against housing colonies or building activities.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 15:46 IST

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