‘Major cities turned into slums’: SC seeks action against encroachments

Bench pointed out that the primary duty to see that there is no encroachment of public land is of local government

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern at continuing encroachments on government land and the slum problems in all big cities, and called for strict action by authorities.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar emphasised that local governments should wake up and take actions to prevent encroachments.

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar orally observed that all major cities have turned into slums and added that Chandigarh might be an exception but there are problems in Chandigarh as well.

“Happening everywhere… Let us rise to reality and think how the problem has to be resolved,” it observed.

The bench pointed out that the primary duty to see that there is no encroachment of public land is of local government.

“It is a sad story continuing for 75 years. This is the sad story of this country..,” the bench orally observed.

The top court made these observations while hearing a plea in connection with 5,000 jhuggis in Gujarat, with nearly 10,000 persons residing there, facing demolition in the wake of the construction of a railway line between Surat and Jalna.

The Gujarat High Court had dismissed a plea against the demolition, but in August, the top court had stayed the demolition.

On Thursday, the top court allowed the demolition and directed that those affected should be given alternate accommodation.

It added that ultimately the taxpayers’ money which will go down the drain.

The bench pointed at the special railway enactment, which empowers it to take criminal action against trespassers, and it also maintains a special police force to protect its properties. It said that it will review the performance of the railways and scheduled the matter for further hearing on January 28.

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