Delhi HC directs slum dwellers on Yamuna floodplains to vacate in three days or face demolition

The court order comes after the National Green Tribunal took note of the pollution level in the city, and guiding the authorities to clean river Yamuna

March 15, 2023 07:56 pm | Updated 07:56 pm IST - New Delhi

File photo of cleaning operation along the banks of the Yamuna river, in New Delhi. The Delhi High Court on March 15, 2023, directed the slum dwellers to vacate the area within three days, after authorities announced plans to clean the river.

File photo of cleaning operation along the banks of the Yamuna river, in New Delhi. The Delhi High Court on March 15, 2023, directed the slum dwellers to vacate the area within three days, after authorities announced plans to clean the river. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Delhi High Court on March 15 directed slum dwellers on the Yamuna floodplains here to vacate their jhuggis within three days failing which they will have to pay ₹50,000 each to the DUSIB and the DDA shall proceed with the demolition.

The court passed the order after being informed that a committee headed by the lieutenant governor has issued directions to clean river Yamuna in view of the January 9 directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which took note of the pollution level.

“Strict action may be permitted to be taken by police…the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) concerned of the area will render all support during the said action,” the court said dismissing a plea by the residents.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which has been tasked with the demolition of jhuggis, told Justice Prathiba M Singh that the NGT had revived the matter pertaining to pollution of the Yamuna, pursuant to which a high-level committee on January 27 passed directions to take immediate steps to control pollution of the river and remove encroachments there.

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, appearing for the DDA, submitted that the residents had come back to the same place twice after the removal of encroachments.

Taking note of the submission of the counsel for DDA, the judge asked the counsel representing the residents, “You are occupying river Yamuna. Do you know how much damage is being caused to it?”

The court was hearing a plea by residents of Moolchand basti located on the Yamuna floodplains at Bela Estate, Rajghat claiming the DDA and Delhi Police officials visited them in August 2022 and threatened them to vacate their jhuggis which will otherwise be demolished.

ALSO READ | No dirty water will flow into Yamuna by December-end: NMCG official

The DDA’s counsel told the court the residents had also filed a contempt petition but no contempt case had been made out against the authorities.

She submitted the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) said in an affidavit that the residents were not entitled to rehabilitation as their ‘basti’ did not figure in its notified list.

The court directed the DDA to proceed with the demolition after three days and said that no further indulgence will be shown to the petitioners or their families.

It also disposed of the contempt plea observing that no contempt was made out and said “You cannot use contempt proceedings to threaten officials”.

The court said the residents had concealed certain material facts, as recorded in its order of August 17, 2022, regarding earlier litigations challenging eviction by their fathers and grandfathers which had attained finality till the Supreme Court.

When the matter was listed on January 13, the court had stayed the proposed demolition considering the harsh winter.

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