Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Demolition moratorium in Chennai India

New Delhi, May 23: The Supreme Court today refused to stay the operation of the new law placing a moratorium on the demolition of unauthorised structures in the capital but issued notices to the Centre and the MCD on the PIL challenging its legality. A vacation Bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice R V Raveendran posted the matter for hearing on July 17. The court referred the issue to the Bench which has been hearing the matter relating to demolition of structures and ceiling of shops. The petition, moved jointly by the Delhi Residents Welfare Associations Front and an NGO Citizens Forum, alleged that the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 was politically motivated keeping in view the coming municipal elections and should be declared ultra vires of the Constitution as it "violated" the fundamental rights of the law abiding citizen. The Act provides for maintaining status quo as on January 1, 2006 of unauthorised development in respect of mixed land use, construction beyond sanctioned plans and encroachments by slum dwellers, hawkers and street vendors in the capital. The law aims to use the one-year period to finalise policy, norms, and guidelines to deal with such violations. [Chennai Online]

Comment: A normal feature of slum clearance in such situations is that the materials arising from demolition are destroyed to prevent dwellers from taking them elsewhere and reusing them. The hope is that the slum dwellers will move to another city or go back into the (normally impoverished) countryside from where they came. [TK]

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