Court stays demolition of slums in west Delhi


New Delhi : The Delhi High Court Friday stayed the ongoing demolition of some slum colonies in west Delhi till April 27 and asked civic officials to ensure temporary shelter and other facilities for those rendered homeless so far.

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Thousands of residents of Punjabi Basti and Gayatri Colony slums located near Baljeet Nagar lost their habitations after the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) bulldozers rolled in on Wednesday.

Issuing the order, Justice S. Murlidhar said: “It is directed that the commissioner (Land Management), DDA will constitute a team of three senior officials who will immediately visit and ensure that basic facilities like drinking water, sanitation including public toilets, temporary shelter and health services are provided to those whose houses have been demolished.”

“The DDA will coordinate with the Delhi Urban Improvement Board of Delhi government in this regard,” said the court, adding that the lay out plan of the area which shows the exact location of the jhuggi (slum) cluster will be placed on record by April 27.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Human Rights Law Network. Lawyer Colin Gonsalves had Thursday approached Delhi High Court seeking interim relief for the demolished slum’s people.

However, the court ordered a stay, bringing the action to a halt till Friday.

The DDA sought to justify the demolition, saying these are fresh encroachments on public land.

DDA commissioner (public relations) Neemo Dhar said these structures were being demolished as they had come up recently and were encroaching government land.

Gonsalves however argued that they were shocked to see a large number of children, women with babies and even those pregnant being left homeless as a result of the demolition drive.

He contended that two women were even injured amid the chaos.

The court then pulled up the DDA, asking the agency to inform the court if they took in account all these facts before it undertook the demolition action.

“DDA will file a detailed affidavit in this court on the above aspects within one week,” said the court, adding that Delhi government will also inform the court on the next hearing whether the demolition action took place with its prior consent and intimation.