Irate residents force MCD to suspend demolition drive


New Delhi : The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)’s crackdown on illegal constructions and encroachments met with tough resistance Tuesday as residents protesting the drive in central Delhi poured on to the streets, causing traffic jams and forcing the civic officials to suspend it.

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MCD officials said they had planned “routine checks” in many parts of the city to check illegal constructions.

“There is no special thrust on the demolition drive… this is usual action going on… especially ongoing illegal constructions at places where there have been complaints,” MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur told IANS.

However, the scene on the ground appeared a far cry. MCD officials in various zones entered residential colonies Tuesday morning with bulldozers, trucks and tractors to raze any illegal construction in sight. Police personnel accompanied the civic agency teams.

Residents of Paharganj near the New Delhi Railway station put up fierce resistance, forcing MCD officials to suspend the demolition drive by noon.

A massive crowds comprising the area’s residents and shopkeepers of the Paharganj market association poured onto the streets – from the main bazaar all the way till the Railway Station – blocking traffic in the area for over an hour.

A fuming Subash Baid of the Paharganj Main Bazar Sangh said: “We have not been given any information regarding the demolition. They are just bullying us.”

The protesters complained that they were not given any prior notice before the demolition drive started.

“There was no notice given to us by MCD. They just want to extend the width of the road by 60 meters. This is one of the oldest roads in Delhi. How can they tell us that we have carried out unauthorised construction. Many generations have been living here. Where will we go?” said another enraged resident, who declined to be identified.

Arun from the Paharganj market association said: “MCD has created a drama. We have constructed our buildings as per the housing plan of the MCD.”

The demolition drive is likely to continue in other areas like Jahangirpuri, Bhogal, Hari Nagar and Ashram in the MCD central zone and start in Mehrauli, Khirki Extension, Mohammadpur and Chittranjan Park in MCD south zone, a senior MCD official said.