Supreme Court orders removal of slums along railway tracks in Delhi

A flooded sewage canal flows under a railway bridge next to a slum area after a monsoon rainfall in New Delhi on July 22, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The Supreme Court has ordered the removal of about 48,000 slum clusters located within safety zones along railway tracks in Delhi within three months.

In one of the last orders delivered by a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra, who retired on Wednesday, the court declared “no interference, political or otherwise, should be there” against their removal.

It said any order of interim stay passed by any court against the removal of these encroachment shall be deemed ineffective.

The court also direct stakeholders to prepare a comprehensive plan for removal of jhuggies (slum clusters). The plan is to be made and executed in a phased manner.

A Railway affidavit in the court said there is a “predominant presence” of slum dwellings along 140 km of rail tracks in Delhi.

“Out of this, about 70 km route length of track is affected by large jhuggie jhopri clusters existing in close vicinity of the tracks. These clusters sum up to a total of about 48,000 numbers of jhuggies in the region adjacent to railway tracks,” the court order of August 31 said.

The court further directed the Railways and local authorities in Delhi to remove plastic waste, garbage, etc, piled up alongside the tracks within three months.

It ordered a meeting among the Railways, Delhi government, municipal corporations and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust to be called next week. Work to remove the garbage should start immediately thereafter.

Railways shall bear 70% of the expenses and the rest will be given by the Delhi government, the court directed.

“The manpower is to be provided by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Railways and agencies available with the government, free of cost. They will not charge it from each other. SDMC, Railways and other agencies should ensure that their contractors do not put the waste/garbage on the sides of the railway tracks,” the court ordered.

The court said Railways had set up a Special Task Force to remove the encroachments two years ago in an effort “to maintain a clean environment along the tracks”. However “political interventions” came in the way.

The court has sought an action-taken report to be filed within a month.

The hearing was based on a report filed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which said Railways is not following the Solid Waste Management Rules.

The court said the EPCA report and the reply filed by the Railways indicate that “nothing has been done so far and waste is being piled up”.

“At the same time, there is human habitation, which has come in the same area unauthorisedly, which are required to be taken care of,” the court order said.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 11:59:24 PM |

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