Contributed by – Arun K Mishra
Contributed by – Arun K Mishra
Courtesy – TNN
The Urban Local Bodies department of Haryana has given green signal for temporary water supplies to the families living in 900 metre restricted zone around the Indian Air Force (IAF) ammunition depot in Gurgaon. The residents living in the restricted zone around are deprived of basic civic amenities; the temporary water supply will end the dependence of residents on ground water and water tankers.
The area of 900m around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers around 2,325 acres area and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.
Gurgaon ammunition depot has strategic importance in the northern region and is ideal for transportation of armaments in case of a two-front war. It is most convenient for foreign receipts due to availability of air bridging facility in the vicinity, which proved very convenient during the Kargil operations.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by one Suresh Goyal before Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 seeking removal of constructions from 100-metre area around Air Force Station, Dabua in Faridabad, which is a protected zone under provisions of the Work of Defence Act. HC had also taken cognizance of a similar matter of on the construction activities within the restricted zone of 900m of the ammunition depot of IAF in Gurgaon.
“Large numbers of people are living in this area and they are deprived of basic civic amenities. The matter of restricted zone is pending before court for many years, so we cannot keep large number of people thirsty,” said MLA Umesh Agrawal adding that water will be supplied to the residents till the final order of the court.
He said temporary water supply project will cost Rs 3 cr. Water will be supply through two overhead water tanks and Huda has promised to give land for it. “One overhead tank will be constructed near Tau Devilal Park in sector 22,” said Agrawal.
The temporary water supply to 10,368 owners/occupiers within 900m of the IAF ammunition depot will further complicate the matter. “Removal is a sensitive issue, which may create law and order problem. It includes Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL), other small/large industrial units in Sector 18, residential/commercial area in Sector 14 and small residential belt in Sector 17,” said senior government official.
Haryana government had stated in 2011 that factories like MUL and Electric City in the said area were providing economic impetus to Gurgaon, which made this restricted belt vulnerable to urbanization and industrial growth, resulting in encroachments.
The stance of the state government on the restricted 900-metre IAF zone to be articulated at the Punjab and Haryana high court when the case comes up for hearing on February 9 was the subject of high-level discussions here on Friday. The personal secretary to the Haryana chief minister held talks with the Gurgaon deputy commissioner and the MCG commissioner on the issue.
According to sources, deputy commissioner T L Satyaprakash and MCG commissioner Vikas Gupta told Sanjeev Kaushal that the expert committee constituted by the high court had suggested the restricted area should be kept only up to 300 metres instead of the current 900 metres. “The meeting was held to prepare a report that needs to be submitted to the high court on February 9. While no concrete decision was taken at the meeting, it was decided to ask the court that till such time that it is not decided whether the restricted limit should be 900 or 300 metres, the court should allow basic amenities to be provided to all the area residents,” an official said.
The authorities too are hoping that the court would provide some relief to the residents who are under constant threat of their homes being demolished by the MCG as their building plans are not approved.
“The land on which these homes are built belongs to the owners. However they are illegal as their building plans have not been approved by the municipal corporation and therefore face the possibility of demolition. We hope the court comes up with a solution wherein these people are not rendered homeless while preserving the security in the zone,” another official said.
“There is some talk about reducing the number of explosives in the ammunition depot so that in the event of an unfortunate incident, the casualties can be contained. However, this decision will have to be taken by the Air Force officials. We are also waiting for the Air Force authorities to submit a proposal to the high court, based on which we will take a final decision,” he said.
The MCG on Tuesday partially demolished a building under construction on the Old Delhi-Gurgaon road, which was being built illegally within the restricted 900-metre stretch surrounding the IAF ammunition depot.
When asked why the entire building, located just opposite the Maruti plant, has not been demolished, MCG’s executive engineer N D Vashisht told TOI that it was because of an electric pole coming in the way.
“If we had brought down the entire structure, then the electric pole would have fallen down, leading to disruption of power supply in the area. Therefore, we demolished the building partially for the time being. In the days to come, we will demolish the entire building,” he said.
Residents claimed that construction was on in full swing, right under the nose of the MCG, despite the Punjab and Haryana high court imposing a blanket ban on any construction around a 900-metre radius of the IAF depot and reprimanding, on several occasions, the civic body and police for failing to stop construction of illegal structures there.
“Around five days ago, I had complained to the Air Force depot’s security officer. However, three days later when I had approached him again, he told me that as per rules, the Air Force can report about an illegal activity if it is only within 50 metres from its boundary,” said a resident, on condition of anonymity.
Deputy commissioner T L Satyaprakash has said that the MCG commissioner is liable to stop construction activity in the 900-metre restricted area.
MCG commissioner Vikas Gupta could not be contacted for comments.
MCG chief Vikas Gupta and police commissioner Navdeep Sing Virk will conduct a joint inspection of the 900-metre restricted zone around the IAF ammunition depot to check for illegal constructions before the next hearing in the high court on February 9.
This was decided in a meeting called by the joint commissioner of the MCG and the executive engineers in charge of the six zones of the IAF depot on Thursday. The meeting was held to discuss the steps required to be taken to stop construction activity in the area.
An MCG official said that the executive engineers were asked to prepare a list of all the demolitions and new constructions in each of the six divisions in the zone. They have also been asked to report on the action taken against the illegal property owners. “In today’s meeting the executive engineers were asked to ensure that no construction material is taken inside this zone at any cost,” the official said.
The official said that 32 checkpoints had been installed in the 900-metre area to stop further construction, but it failed to stop the illegal activity. “It has been found that these checkpoints are not manned properly and, therefore, illegal construction activity is still taking place,” said the official.
The IAF zone issue became highly politicized ever since the MCG carried out a demolition drive last month in which it demolished around eight houses, which it said were illegally constructed. The local MCG councillor and other politicians have been assuring the area’s residents that they will not allow any more demolitions from taking place anywhere in the 900-metre area.
They have also rejected an earlier proposal to reduce the restricted area from the present 900m radius and to a 300m one. The politicians and the residents have been demanding compensation to be paid to those owners whose homes were demolished by the MCG in December. However, the district administration has said it would not pay any compensation as it had only followed the high court order.
Courtesy : TNN
The district administration has decided to conduct an inquiry into the way in which the MCG demolished some houses in Sheetla Colony in the 900-metre restricted IAF zone earlier this month, leaving several families homeless.
According to a source, the administration feels that this demolition should not have been carried out in winter as it left around seven families homeless.
The probe is likely to cover officials from the MCG and electricity department who issued backdated electricity connections to some of the area residents. “According to the directions of the high court, any building that has come up after December 8, 2011, anywhere within the 900-metre radius of the IAF ammunition depot is considered to be illegal,” said a senior district administration official.
But, he said, the owners of many such buildings that came up after this cut-off date possess electricity bills purportedly issued before the date. “These residents have managed to obtain them through fraudulent means with the help of some corrupt officials in the electricity department,” the official said.
The MCG officials will also be probed as the administration feels that the officials showed undue urgency in demolishing these houses. “We had prepared a plan to deal with the unauthorized construction in this restricted area. The idea was not to demolish these structures in winter as it would mean people being rendered homeless. We were waiting for an appropriate time to carry out the demolition exercise,” he said.
The MCG officials, though, insisted that they did not act in haste. “We are just following specific orders from the high court. The next date of court hearing is February 6 and before that we need to prepare an action taken report in this matter so that the court does not hold us accountable,” said an MCG official.