The Supreme Court on Monday directed the removal of 48,000 jhuggies (shanties) along 140 kilometers of railway track in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, where the railway tracks take off in different directions and include a ring connecting the takeoff of all these routes.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, directed all stakeholders to draw up a comprehensive plan for the removal of the jhuggies for it to be executed in a phased manner.
The bench added that the encroachments which were in safety zones should be removed within a period of three months with no interference, political or otherwise.
It also directed that no court grant any stay with respect to the removal of the encroachments in the area in question.
“In case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along the railway tracks, that shall not be effective”, the bench said.
The Court was considering a report on the subject filed by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) and an affidavit filed by Railways.
“The picture painted in the Report of the EPCA as well as in the reply filed by the Railways indicates that nothing has been done so far and waste is being piled up and 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 said.
The Court also directed the execution of a plan with respect to the removal of plastic bags, garbage etc. within a period of three months and a meeting of all stakeholders, i.e. Railways, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and concerned Municipal Corporations as well as the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust (DUISB) next week so that work can start forthwith.
For this purpose, the Court said 70% of the requisite amount should be borne by the Railways and 30% by the State Government.
“The manpower be provided by the SDMC, Railways and agencies available with the Government, free of cost, and they will not charge it from each other. SDMC, Railways and other agencies to ensure that their Contractors do not put the waste/garbage on the sides of the railway tracks”, the Court directed.
The Railways had submitted that there was a predominant presence of jhuggies in Delhi along the 140 km length of the track in NCT of Delhi where the tracks take off in different directions and also include a ring connecting the takeoff of all these routes.
Out of this, the Railways said, about a 70 km length of track was affected by large jhuggie-jhopri clusters existing in the close vicinity of the tracks. These clusters comprise a total of about 48000 jjuggues in the region adjacent to the railway tracks.
The Court also noted that a Special Task Force for the removal of encroachments from the Railway Property had already been constituted by the Railways in terms of the directions and order dated 01.10.2018 passed by the NGT PB New Delhi.
“There seems to be some political intervention against the removal of such encroachments which are coming in the way”, the Court observed.
The Railways also placed on record the task of cleaning the tracks which could be undertaken in a phased manner with the cooperation of statutory authorities like the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, Corporations and the State Governments. Other steps taken by the Railways had also been delineated, including those involving law and order issues.
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The article was originally published in The Leaflet