Sujay Mehdudia

Mahapanchayat of 360 villages has been convened at Hauz Khas to discuss Lal Dora issue

All political parties have been invited to take part in the Mahapanchayat Ram Singh Bidhuri said when the MCD had not been maintaining civic services in the rural belt then it had no right to take action against the people'The civic body has failed to take the correct stand in the court'

NEW DELHI: Strong resentment seems to be brewing in the Capital's rural belt over the recent Delhi High Court order to raze illegal commercial properties in the "Lal Dora" areas of the city. Opposing bulldozers on their properties, village folks are up in arms against the Government's failure to protect their interests and have convened a "mahapanchayat" of 360 villages this coming Sunday to discuss the next course of action.

What has irked the villagers even more is the seeming failure of the Congress-ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi or the Sheila Dikshit Government to speak on their behalf.

Leaders from all the political parties have been invited to take part in the Mahapanchayat that has been convened at Hauz Khas village by former Member of Parliament Chaudhary Mir Singh who also heads the Delhi Gram Vikas Manch.

The villagers are incensed over the failure of the Congress-led MCD and the Delhi Government to present "the correct facts and picture" before the High Court that led to its passing the orders for demolition of commercial properties in the Lal Dora area.

The villagers argue that after acquisition of their land for development of residential colonies and other infrastructure, they had no other option but to set up business or rent out their properties for generating income to sustain themselves. However, the court order for demolition of commercial property would hit them badly and panic has already set in across the villages.

Stating that no building by-laws were applicable in the rural villages of the Capital and it was wrong to penalise the villagers, Nationalist Congress Party MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said it was high time Lal Dora was reviewed and civic amenities were extended to such areas.

Mr. Bidhuri said when the MCD had not been maintaining civic services in the rural belt then it had no right to take action against the people.

"The Government has not presented the ground realities to the court and that is the reason such directions have come. We will not allow bulldozers in the villages and will go to any extent to protect the interests of the villagers,'' he added.

For their part, the villagers argue that the British earmarked the Lal Dora and no exercise has been undertaken so far to gauge the situation of the people living there or extending it since Independence.

Similarly, they have pointed out that in rural villages, no building by-laws are applicable and therefore there was no bar on the height of the building or how much area it has to cover. However, the villagers, who had gathered on Friday at Jia Sarai village to discuss the situation, asserted that they were strongly against the ''builder mafia'' and they would not oppose demolition of those buildings that have been constructed by outsiders.

Buildings

''The Mahapanchayat will seek to put pressure on the Government and the concerned authorities. The MCD has failed to take the correct stand in the court. Where will the people of villages go if their only source of income, that is rent from the buildings, is also taken away from them? Our agricultural land had been acquired to building colonies and now we are being threatened with demolitions for enabling development of this city,'' remarked Chaudhary Mir Singh.

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