The Supreme Court has ordered removal of 48,000 slum dwellings along 140-km railway tracks in Delhi within three months, and also restrained other courts from granting any stay on the removal process.
The court said there shall not be any kind of political interference in the execution of the plan. The slum dwellings will be removed in a phased manner, it said.
The order was passed by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari which took note of the report filed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA).
It has directed the action taken be reported to the court within one month on removal of waste and encroachments in the area.
“The encroachments which are there in safety zones should be removed within a period of three months and no interference, political or otherwise, should be there and no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments in the area in question,” the order said.
The bench said, in case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along railway tracks, shall not be effective.
The EPCA, in its report, has sought direction to the Railways to present a time-bound plan for solid waste management in the northern region, starting with Delhi and its vicinity.
“We direct that let the plan be executed with respect to removal of plastic bags, garbage etc. within a period of three months and a meeting of all stakeholders, i.e. Railways, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and concerned Municipal Corporations as well as Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUISB) will be called next week and work will be started forthwith,” it said.
The bench said that 70 per cent of the requisite amount shall be borne by the Railways and 30 per cent by the State Government and the manpower be provided by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Railways and agencies available with the Government, free of cost, and they will not charge it from each other.
The order of the bench was passed on August 31, but was uploaded on the apex court’s website recently. Justice Mishra demitted office on Wednesday.
The bench directed the SDMC, Railways and other agencies to ensure that their contractors do not put the waste/garbage on the sides of railway tracks and Railways shall also prepare a long term scheme that no such piling of waste takes place along sides of tracks.
“The picture painted in the report of the EPCA as well as in the reply filed by the Railways indicates that nothing has been done so far and waste is being piled up and at the same time, there is human habitation which has come in the same area unauthorisedly, which are required to be taken care of. Let the action taken be reported to this Court within a period of one month,” the bench said.
The bench, took note of the affidavit filed by AK Yadav, additional Divisional Railway Manager at DRM Office of Northern Railway and said that it is being stated that there is a predominant presence of ‘jhuggies’ in Delhi along the 140 km route length of track in the region of NCT of Delhi where the railway tracks take off in different directions and also include a ring connecting the takeoff of all these routes.
“Out of this, about 70 km route length of track is affected by large ‘jhuggie jhopri’ clusters existing in close vicinity of tracks. These clusters sum up to a total of about 48,000 numbers of jhuggies in the region adjacent to railway tracks,” the bench recorded in its order.
It noted that a Special Task Force for removal of encroachments from the Railway Property has already been constituted by the Railways in terms of directions and order dated October 1, 2018 passed by the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi.
The railways in its affidavit has pointed out that there seems to be some political intervention against removal of such encroachments which are coming in the way and there are certain encroachments which are within the safety zone of the Railways.
“The Railways has placed on record the task of cleaning tracks which can be taken in a phased manner and with the cooperation of the statutory authority like DUSIB, Corporations and the State Governments. Other steps taken by the Railways have also been delineated. There is involvement of law and order issues also,” the bench noted in its order.
On February 28, the top court had taken note of “heaps of plastic bags and garbage” lying on both sides of railway lines in outer Delhi region and asked the Delhi government, civic bodies and EPCA to make a concrete plan for its removal.
Terming the situation as “pathetic”, the apex court had taken cognisance of this issue and said steps have to be taken on a “war footing basis” so that no such garbage is dumped on the sides of railway lines in future.
It had directed that a joint meeting be held by all stakeholders and a comprehensive action plan and time-frame be placed before the court.
This issue had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing matters related to pollution in the Delhi-NCR.