“We had sent out notices to people living in the area before carrying out the demolition,” a DDA spokesperson said. But those whose homes were pulled down claimed they never received any communication from the land-owning agency. Hundreds of them had to spend the night out in the cold.
The spokesperson added, “We have decided not to carry out any more demolitions during winter.”
The NGT order, DDA officials said, prohibits any agricultural or construction activity on the Yamuna flood zone. Therefore, since November 26, they have cleared 106 acres of land. But now, they plan to approach NGT for a clearer brief on removing encroachments from the banks of the Yamuna.
Officials said it’s not easy for them to pull down illegal structures due to stiff resistance by locals. They also said land in four villages along the Yamuna-Chiragh Zanubhi, Bela, Inderpat and Chiragh Somali-was given on lease for five years for grass cutting and grazing to two societies.
“The leases expired in 1966 and the societies were asked to hand over the vacant land to DDA. The lessees were in unauthorized possession of the land and were carrying out agricultural activity in breach of terms and conditions of the lease. Therefore, eviction proceedings were initiated. Demolition drives were carried out only after the court upheld the eviction orders, wherever appeals were filed by the occupants,” said a DDA official.