Today's Paper

Delhi demolition drive losing steam

DAY V: The scene on Vikas Marg in East Delhi on Thursday. — PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT

DAY V: The scene on Vikas Marg in East Delhi on Thursday. — PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT  

Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: The citywide demolition drive being carried out by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi appeared to be losing steam on the fifth day of the exercise on Thursday with only 32 properties targeted even as protesters turned violent and blocked traffic on the busy Vikas Marg in East Delhi.

Though the drive was carried out in all 12 civic zones, action remained confined mainly to one or two properties in each zone.

Demolition squads started the drive simultaneously in all the zones, razing 18 commercial and eight residential properties during the day. Primarily they targeted ongoing unauthorised constructions and residential properties that were being used as commercial establishments.

MCD officials also sealed two residential properties and four commercial establishments, including huge showrooms in upmarket South Extension.

The drive was peaceful in all the areas except Vikas Marg in East Delhi and Rohini in North-West Delhi where Bharatiya Janata Party workers staged demonstrations in protest against the drive calling it "anti-people". At Vikas Marg near Laxmi Nagar, Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan along with former East Delhi MP Lal Bihari Tiwari, party councillors and workers blocked traffic on the busy road in the morning. They shouted slogans against the Delhi Government and the MCD demanding immediate suspension of the drive. The road blockage resulted in massive traffic jams during the rush hour. Police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd and 100-odd protesters were detained.

Tension prevailed in the area during the day forcing the civic body to suspend the demolition drive for the rest of the day.

Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Vijay Goel along with BJP MLAs and councillors staged a dharna at Madhuban Chowk in Pitampura. Demanding resignation of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, he alleged that the Congress Government was playing into the hands of shopping-mall owners by destroying shops that have come up in residential areas. Elsewhere people shouted slogans against the State Government and the MCD even as the drive was carried out without any resistance.

The areas targeted on Thursday included South Extension, Moti Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Hari Nagar, Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, Bawana Industrial Area, Mukherjee Nagar, Outram Lines, Model Town, Gokulpuri, Dilshad Colony, Najafgarh, Rohini, Pitampura, Roop Nagar and Shahdara. Only two zones -- Narela and West -- saw large-scale action, while in the rest of the zones the drive went slow.

So far the demolition squads have taken action against only about 300 properties, while they have to target over 18,000 unauthorised constructions on orders from the Delhi High Court.

Recommended for you