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Delhi Lt Governor Orders Halt to DDA Mehrauli Demolition Drive

The Lt Governor of Delhi, V K Saxena, ordered the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Tuesday to halt its anti-encroachment drive until further instructions, which is a huge relief for the Mehrauli residents of Delhi.A delegation of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders made the significant development after meeting Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena.After meeting with the LG, BJP national vice president and head of the Delhi unit Baijayant Panda claimed that a survey conducted by the Revenue Department of the Delhi government had revealed that the residents of Mehrauli were suffering as a result of the demolition drive.

The Mehrauli Archaeological Park region of New Delhi has a number of homes that have been identified for demolition as part of the “anti-encroachment” programme, but the Delhi High Court has ordered the authorities to maintain status quo on those sites until February 16. The high court also requested more information from the Delhi Development Authority regarding a number of petitions that were filed in opposition to the action and that sought to halt demolition work until a new “demarcation report” was created. The drive was conducted one month prior to a G20 summit that was slated to take place at the park in south Delhi, which, according to the Delhi Development Authority, is home to roughly 55 monuments protected by the DDA, the state archaeological department, and the Archaeological Survey of India.

The district magistrate for the south has been reprimanded by the Delhi government for alleged “inaction” on the demolition effort, and he has once again been instructed to conduct new demarcation in the area. According to a representative of the LG office, Saxena was informed of the delegation’s complaints and promised to look into them. In collaboration with Delhi Police, the DDA began its demolition campaign on Friday to clear encroachments from Ladha Sarai village in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Locals reacted to this by protesting the directive. Earlier on Sunday, some female protestors were detained after allegedly hurling red chilli powder at police officers who were on duty during an anti-encroachment drive.They were eventually released, though.

However, the LG reaffirmed that “any illegal encroachment or unauthorised occupation surrounding the heritage sites would be removed instantly, in accordance with the rulings of the high court,” even though no action will be taken against legitimate and rightful tenants. “The LG assured the locals that no injustice would be done to any legitimate landowner after carefully considering their complaints.” According to him, the locals’ allegations will be thoroughly investigated, and if any officials are found to have committed wrongdoing, severe action will be taken against them,” the official added.On Monday, the AAP said that despite the city government’s cancellation of the demarcation order, the DDA and LG Saxena were still demolishing people’s homes in Mehrauli.

Somnath Bharti, an AAP MLA, had earlier urged the LG to halt the operation and carry out the municipal government’s directive for a new delineation. According to authorities, the Kejriwal administration directed the DDA to halt its anti-encroachment campaign in Mehrauli on Saturday.

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra
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