Special Correspondent

"Legislation inescapable... .Relief will have to be given to the masses"

NEW DELHI: One with the Opposition in expressing concern over the situation arising out of the demolition drive here in the Capital, the Government on Monday informed the Lok Sabha that "legislation was inescapable". However, dissatisfied with the response of Union Minister for Urban Development S. Jaipal Reddy to a calling attention motion on the issue moved by Vijay Kumar Malhotra (Bharatiya Janata Party), the Opposition staged a walkout.

While the Government joined the Opposition in voicing concern over the demolitions, Mr. Reddy urged the BJP not to play to the gallery and create false fears among the people. "Legislation is inescapable.... relief will have to be given to the masses," he said while rejecting Mr. Malhotra's suggestion for an amnesty scheme to legitimise the illegal structures and an ordinance akin to the option exercised by the Maharashtra Government to regularise illegal structures in Ulhasnagar.

Since Mr. Malhotra had earlier described his written response to the motion as unsatisfactory, the Minister sought the indulgence of the members for another two months by when the expert committee headed by Tejendra Khanna is scheduled to submit its report.

"You took six years to do nothing, please give me two months," Mr. Reddy said. Also, he sought to assure the House that slum dwellers would not be dislocated till arrangements were made for their relocation.

On the issue of penalising government servants who had made illegal constructions in their government quarters, Mr. Reddy said the Government was willing to adopt a lenient approach if these extensions were not being misused for commercial purposes.

In his written reply, the Minister said "the entire gamut of issues involved here is so complex that we need to take an in-depth and comprehensive view in the matter in the larger interest of the community." It is with this end in view that the Tejendra Khanna committee had been set up, he said. After listing the series of interventions made by the Centre in court, he signed off.

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