The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings located in safety zones along railway tracks in Delhi. These are to be removed in a phased manner within three months, the court said, while also cautioning against "interference, political or otherwise" with its order.
The top court, in no mood to brook non-compliance, also said orders passed by lower courts to stay the removal of the slums "shall not be effective".
"The encroachments in safety zones should be removed within a period of three months and no interference, political or otherwise, should be there and no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments in the area in question," a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said.
"In case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along with railway tracks, that shall not be effective," Justice Mishra, who demitted office yesterday, added.
The three-member bench was hearing an affidavit by the Railways that said a Special Task Force (STF) constituted to remove slums along 70 km of tracks in the national capital had met with "political intervention".
The STF was set up after an October 2018 order by the National Green Tribunal to clear encroachments, waste, garbage and plastic bags along nearly 140 km of railway tracks in the national capital region.
The Supreme Court issued similar orders for the clearing of all waste and garbage, ordering stakeholders - from the Railways to the Delhi government and its municipal corporations - to meet next week.
"Work (on clearing the tracks) will be started forthwith," the court said, splitting costs between the Railways and the Delhi government in a 70:30 ratio.
This was after the court acknowledged a report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Agency (EPCA) that sought direction to the Railways to present a time-bound plan for solid waste management in the northern region, starting with Delhi.
The Railways, in consultation with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) had come up a plan to address this issue, but this had stalled after "political intervention" in the clearing of encroachments.
In February the top court had taken note of "heaps of plastic bags and garbage" on both sides of railway lines in outer Delhi. Describing the situation as "pathetic", the court said the Arvind Kejriwal government in the national capital and other concerned parties needed to take steps on a "war footing".
With input from PTI