With no concrete plan, agencies fail to check return of squatters in Delhi

EDMC officials remove encroachments and demolishes some shops at Mangal Bazar in Laxmi Nagar, New Delhi.

Neighbourhood News Desk: Nineteen days and at least 250 anti-encroachment drives later, civic agencies in the Capital have failed to cancel the licence of even a single commercial establishment for intruding on public spaces to carry out its business, municipal. Officials,who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the Supreme Court-monitored anti-encroachment effort, claim they are helpless. A lack of legal provisions and shortage of sufficient staff have prevented them from preventing the return of squatters .

And even where a legal provision is available — for instance, to take action against illegal permanent structures — the civic agencies’ efforts to deal with the problem have been marked by laxity. Delhi Municipal Corporation Act contains provisions to take stringent action against the owners of shops that are caught for having built illegal extensions, blocking public passage, and causing pollution.

But enforcement teams have only seized goods and demolished portions of some of the shops instead of cancelling licenses. Even now, shops found to have laid out extensions such as display items, mannequins, and eating zones outside their prescribed boundaries. When the enforcement teams revisit, these shop owners pull back their items.

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