The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) on Monday conducted an anti-encroachment drive at Mansarovar Park in Shahdara where people had encroached upon the pavements causing hurdles to pedestrians, said civic officials.
EDMC Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal said the drive was a routine exercise for which plans were made 15 days ago. “We wanted to take action earlier but did not get police deployment,” Mr. Aggarwal said.
The EDMC action comes a fortnight after an anti-encroachment drive was started by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in the violence-hit Jahangirpuri in north-west Delhi. The drive was stopped midway after the Supreme Court ordered status quo.
Following the Jahangirpuri drive, Mayors of South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations had also announced that they will identify areas under their jurisdiction to conduct anti-encroachment drives.
Sameem, a 30-year-old woman who was living with her family in a jhuggi on a footpath under the Shahdara flyover, said the drive has left them with no shelter, no bed, no clothes and no food. “Id this year will not be the same. We are fighting for our lives right now. We have no food and water. On the eve of Id, the municipal corporation has left us with no belongings and little hope of a better life.”
According to the people affected by the drive, their jhuggis, water tankers, utensils, clothes,furniture and all other household items were destroyed. “They asked us to leave these jhuggis and go back to where we came from. If it were that easy, why would we live in a place like this?” said 60-year-old Amna who was left stranded on the road.
Thirty-three-year-old Silochan said they would now have to defecate in the open as the EDMC had demolished the bathrooms in the area. “Where would the women go now? Did the civic body think twice before demolishing our bathrooms?” she said.
Commenting on the EDMC drive, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) R. Sathiyasundaram said, “An encroachment removal programme of the EDMC took place below the Shahdara flyover near Mansarovar Park metro station. The pavement on roadside, which was encroached upon causing hurdles to the pedestrians, was cleared.” He added that no permanent structures were disturbed and there was no loss of property or demolition of houses and eviction of any community.
A senior EDMC official said, “There is nothing political about the drive”. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta had on April 20 written to the South and East civic bodies to remove encroachments “by Rohingyas, Bangladeshis and anti-social elements” in their areas.