The narrow staircases, the cobbled pathways and high rooftops have all been charming attributes of South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, but it is some of these qualities that are posing as safety concern for the area’s residents and the growing number of visitors. Earlier this week, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation began a demolition drive to check what it terms “rampant unauthorised construction”.

“Both restaurants and residential areas have come under scrutiny,” said a senior SDMC official, adding the drive is likely to continue during the later part of this week. According to the civic body not a single building plan has been sanctioned in the area since April 2005. “The area has 42 restaurants and only 27 operate with health trade licences,” said the official.

The area which is also home to several Archaeological Survey of India protected monuments has come under scrutiny for construction activity carried out within 100 metres of these monuments. However, while area councillor Shailender Singh Monty said he was out of town and did not know the present status with the demolition drive terming it “routine activities”, other councillors from neighbouring areas say it is unfair to trouble villagers who have lived their for decades.

“The ASI even though they have their own staff take the help of the civic body to check construction within the 100 metre zone,” observed Ankita Saini, councillor for ward 164, adding this sends wrong message about the civic body among the residents. “Some of these areas were taken from villagers who were the original residents but now due to these various drives they are being rendered homeless. This is unfair,” she added.

However, Ms. Saini did not wish to comment on the demolition drive taking place in the Hauz Khas Village while agreeing that over-construction should be checked.