Centre suspends sealing, demolition in poll-bound Delhi

Centre suspends sealing, demolition in poll-bound Delhi
1 Feb 2008, 2206 hrs IST , PTI
      NEW DELHI: Apparently with an eye on forthcoming Assembly elections in Congress-ruled Delhi, the Centre on Friday ordered suspension of sealing and demolition of illegal structures that came up in the National Capital before December 31, 2005.

     The order also envisages de-sealing of the commercial structures which had come up before that date.

     The directions by the Union Urban Development Ministry came in the wake of the action by the MCD and the DDA against encroachment and unauthorised construction following court orders.

     The order to suspend sealing or demolition drive, which will be in force till December 31, 2008, will lead to a halt to the MCD’s ongoing drive against unauthorised structures, including demolition of illegal fourth and fifth floors of residential buildings.

     The Congress government in the Capital has been under attack from opposition BJP over the sealing and demolition drives.

     The party was ousted from power in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) last year and the sealing and demolition drives were seen as a major factor in Congress’ defeat in the civic body elections.

       According to the directions issued by the Centre, notwithstanding any judgment, decree or court order, steps shall be taken by the concerned local authority, including de-sealing of unauthorised commercial establishments, to maintain status quo as on January one, 2006.

      Status quo will have to be maintained with respect to unauthorised colonies and village abadi area and its extension as on February eight, 2007.

      All notices issued by any local authority for initiating action against encroachment or unauthorised development shall be suspended and no punitive action shall be taken till December 31, 2008, the Urban Development Ministry order said.

     “The above directions have been issued with the intent to ensure that till norms, policy guidelines and feasible strategies are finalised to deal with the problem of unauthorised development protected by the Act (Delhi Laws Special Provisions Act, 2007), people are not put to avoidable hardship and irreparable loss,” said a press release issued by the Ministry.

      Welcoming the suspension of the sealing and demolition action, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said “we are very, very happy that such an order has been issued by the Ministry of Urban Development and giving relief to the people who had the Damocles’ sword hanging over their head all the while till December 2008.” Asked if the move was a political one in view of forthcoming Assembly elections in the Capital, she said “it was a move that just happened to be at the election time.”

      Meanwhile, BJP-ruled MCD termed the move as a “political stunt” and said a lasting relief could be provided only through an amnesty scheme.

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