HC directs slum dwellers on Yamuna floodplains to vacate in three days

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed slum dwellers on the Yamuna floodplains to vacate their jhuggis within three days, failing which they will have to pay Rs 50,000 each to the DUSIB and the DDA shall proceed with the demolition.
The court passed the order after being informed that a committee headed by the lieutenant governor has issued directions to clean the Yamuna in view of the 9 January directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which took note of the pollution level.
“Strict action may be permitted to be taken by the police…” The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) concerned with the area will render all support during the said action,” the court said, dismissing a plea by the residents.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which has been tasked with the demolition of jhuggis, told Justice Prathiba M. Singh that the NGT had revived the matter pertaining to pollution of the Yamuna, pursuant to which a high-level committee on January 27 passed directions to take immediate steps to control pollution of the river and remove encroachments there.
Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, appearing for the DDA, submitted that the residents had come back to the same place twice after the removal of encroachments.
Taking note of the submission of the counsel for DDA, the judge asked the council representing the residents, “You are occupying the Yamuna. Do you know how much damage is being caused to it?” The court was hearing a plea by residents of Moolchand basti, located on the Yamuna floodplains at Bela Estate, Rajghat, who claimed DDA and Delhi Police officials visited them in August 2022 and threatened them to vacate their jhuggis, which would otherwise be demolished.
The DDA’s counsel told the court the residents had also filed a contempt petition, but no contempt case had been made out against the authorities. She submitted to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) an affidavit saying that the residents were not entitled to rehabilitation as their ‘basti’ did not figure in its notified list.
The court directed the DDA to proceed with the demolition after three days and said that no further indulgence would be shown to the petitioners or their families. It also disposed of the contempt plea, observing that no contempt was made out, and said “You cannot use contempt proceedings to threaten officials”.
The court said the residents had concealed certain material facts, as recorded in its order of August 17, 2022, regarding earlier litigations challenging eviction by their fathers and grandfathers, which had attained finality until the Supreme Court.

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