Sixty "unauthorised structures" in a market area in east Delhi have been demolished in the last three days as per directions of the court, officials said on Wednesday.
These structures served as houses for many families in East Laxmi Market area, and one of its residents alleged that a "woman coronavirus patient who was under home isolation", has been "rendered homeless" due to the demolition of her house during the drive.
Civic authorities, however, denied the charge, and a senior official said, "I do not have any knowledge about this, but appropriate health authorities would have taken everything under consideration, had it been the case".
The demolition action was carried out as per the old directions of the Delhi High Court, the official said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Jasmeet Singh said, "In pursuance of orders of the court, around 60 unauthorised structures were demolished in Laxmi Nagar. The demolition work was started on Monday and completed on Wednesday. No law and order issue was faced by authorities."
Biru, one of the residents, whose house was demolished in the action, claimed, "I have valid papers and my family members have been residing there since 1960s, yet we have been rendered homeless."
"This is corona time and now, our house is all rubble, our belongings are buried beneath the rubble. We were not even given prior notice. And, a woman coronavirus patient who was under home isolation, is now out in the open as her house got demolished. Was anything done for her," he asked.
The senior official of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, however, claimed that "prior notice was given to the occupants to vacate the houses."
The senior official said, an RWA of the area had moved Delhi High Court in 2011 claiming these structures were built by "encroaching lands".
"The case was heard by the court and it had directed removal of these structures. However, some of the residents of these houses approached the court to be made a party to the case," he said.
"The High Court also told the people who were residing in these houses to appeal in the Sessions Court. The case then went on in the Sessions Court from 2015-2019, and they were unable to prove ownership, which meant the old 2015 order of the high court became operational," the official said.
Interestingly, when the case was filed in 2011, it was then a unified MCD, however, in 2015 the MCD had been trifurcated into North, South and East corporations.
"The EDMC, PWD and Delhi Police were instructed to execute the orders. However, it had been a long time in 2019, since the case was first filed in 2011, and therefore the action could not be immediately executed. As a result, in January 2020, a case of contempt of court was filed by the RWA, and the court then ordered again to do it by August 17," the official said.
One month ago, the three stakeholders sat together and made the plan, which was also delayed due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, he added.
"Finally, the action was taken from Monday to Wednesday. The land they were claiming was actually a ''right of way'' (bordering area) of a disused canal as per the Master Plan," the official claimed.