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Supreme Court orders removal of 48,000 Jhuggies along Delhi railway tracks within 3 months

The Supreme Court while hearing the matter of MC Mehta V. Union of India yesterday ordered the removal of 48,000 jhuggies (shanties) along 140 kilometres of railway track around Delhi within three months (MC Mehta vs Union of India).

The bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari also held that if any interim order is passed in the meanwhile staying the removal of the encroachments along the railway tracks, such an order will not be effective.

The Bench also directed that the action taken in this regard to be reported within one month to the court. The reply submitted by Railways and the report of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) as well specifies 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 encroachments which are there in the 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. In case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along with railway tracks, that shall not be effective."

The Railways also submitted that there was a predominant presence of jhuggies along the 140 km length of track in the region of NCT of Delhi.Out of this, about 70 km length of track is affected by large jhuggie-jhopri clusters existing in close vicinity of the tracks.These clusters are totaling about 48,000 jhuggies in total.

"Special Task Force for removal of encroachments from the Railway Property has already been constituted by Railway 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 removal of such encroachments which are coming in the way."

All stakeholders conference, i.e. Railways, the NCT government and the municipal corporations concerned as well as the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust (DUISB) will be called next week, and work will begin immediately, the Court ruled.The Court further ordered the implementation of a plan regarding the elimination of the plastic bags, garbage etc. within 3 months

“70% of the requisite amount shall 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.”

In a related matter, the Court was told that the smog towers to be set up to curb air pollution in the capital would be constructed within ten months. The Court noted,

"Any violation on any ground whatsoever shall be treated as contempt of the order passed by this Court as there is already huge unjustified delay in making the compliance of the order."





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