Removed Encroachment from Yamuna Floodplains: DDA Tells HC

 The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court it has removed encroachment from the Yamuna floodplains here and demolished the jhuggis which were directed to be vacated by a single judge last week.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, while hearing an appeal by the jhuggi dwellers against the single judge order, asked DDA to file an affidavit in relation to the exercise.

“Has the demolition taken place?” asked the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, to which the counsel for DDA responded, “Yes, it has been completed. It is over.”

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, appearing for the DDA, said notice was given before the demolition in compliance with the requirements and the occupants were informed about the nearest DUSIB shelter.

“Counsel appearing for DDA has stated before this court that encroachment has already been removed… Let an affidavit be filed,” said the bench.

Advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, representing the appellants, said the occupants had been farming on the land for the last many years, and also raised the issue of their rehabilitation.

Residents of Moolchand basti located on the Yamuna floodplains at Bela Estate, Rajghat had moved the single judge earlier claiming that DDA and Delhi Police officials had visited them in August 2022 and threatened them to vacate their jhuggis, otherwise the same will be demolished forcefully.

The court said if the basti was covered under the list of notified cluster, it would be dealt with as per the applicable policy and there are orders of the National Green Tribunal calling for clearing the Yamuna floodplains.

“There are at least half a dozen NGT orders saying clear the Yamuna plains,” said the court.

During the hearing, Kaur told the court that despite being given three days’ time by the single judge, none of the occupants vacated the premises and the authority was under official orders to vacate the land within a fortnight.

“An eco-tourism park is being developed here,” she said, adding that the issue of removal of encroachment in the present case has been looked into by several courts, including the Supreme Court.

“Fathers of petitioners in this case have lost up to the Supreme Court and this was concealed in the writ petition,” she claimed.

The single judge had recorded that the residents had concealed certain material facts, as recorded in its order of August 17, 2022, regarding earlier litigations challenging eviction by their fathers and grandfathers which had attained finality till the Supreme Court.

Before the single judge, DDA had said the NGT has revived the matter pertaining to pollution of Yamuna, pursuant to which a high-level committee on January 27 passed directions to take immediate steps to control pollution of the river, including removing encroachments there.

On March 15, the single judge had directed the slum dwellers to vacate their jhuggis within three days failing which they would have to pay Rs 50,000 each to the DUSIB, and DDA shall proceed with the demolition.

When the matter was listed on January 13, the high court had considered the “harsh winter” and stayed the demolition of the jhuggis at the time.

DUSIB said before the single judge that the residents are not entitled to rehabilitation as their basti’ did not feature on its notified list.

The matter would be heard next on March 27.

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