The link below will take you to the article posted in Sanskriti on 31st May, 2014:
It traces the genesis of corruption in India and highlights how concentration of power has resulted in the demise of the professional leadership in the technical departments. It underscores the importance and urgency of bringing in sharp focus the accountability of bureaucracy for its failures, and makes a pitch for the dilution of the concentration of power in a handful of IAS officers as it is not in the national interest; nowhere in the world exists such a system.
The post today presents a real life case study of “Gross misgovernance Resulting from the Decimation of Leadership in the Technical Departments”.
In the sectors carved out in the state of Haryana, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has planned sector roads of 30 feet and 60 feet width. HUDA does not construct footpaths and the storm water drainage alongside the footpaths while selling plots to the public. The plot owners are supposed to accommodate the driveway ramp for access into their plot within the footpath width, typically 5 feet to 6 feet, and maintain the greenbelt in front of their plot within this width if they wish to keep the surrounding area neat and tidy in the absence of a footpath.
A number of plot owners, particularly those facing 60 wide sector roads, have constructed long pucca driveway ramps extending to 15+ feet in length, which constitute an encroachments of the public land earmarked for providing shady avenue trees and parking of vehicles, particularly in the commercial areas. Some of the more daring and selfish elements in the sector, have gone ahead and encroached the green belt for the entire width and the length (in case of corner plots) of their plot, flanked by the driveway, by adopting the following illegal means for their own personal benefit:
- Raised the level of the public land by depositing soil on it up to the level of their own lawn within the plot boundary;
- Did not construct a boundary wall at the boundary of their plot in violation of the Completion Certificate issued by HUDA; the encroached public land thus becomes an extended garden of the plot owner, and
- Constructed a solid fencing and/or dense hedging at the edge of the encroached public land for privacy.
Pic.01 and Pic.04 below illustrate the nature of these encroachments:
MCF (Municipal Corporation Faridabad) officials took no action while these encroachments were taking place during construction in 2013. Even today similar types of encroachments are taking place with impunity due to gross indifference of MCF engineers.
One resident Sri Kamaljeet Singh (House No. 380, Sector 21-A), an advocate, was exercised at these brazen encroachments in the commercial area, and filed a suit in the court. The Court passed the following order on 16-08-13:
“The photographs indicate that the residents have apparently done greenery outside their houses for which there cannot be really any issue, but doing so they have encroached upon the portions of the public land. Learned counsel for the petitioner (Sri Kamal Jeet Singh, House No. 380) states that some of the residents have even opened gateways from their personal properties to the public land, making the public land their extended garden which would not be permissible. Learned counsel also submits that in respect of corner houses even the green hedges have been grown and turns have become blind (page-28, upper photograph). She adds that this also affects parking facilities as cars are parked on the main road. The representations made by petitioner collectively as Annexure P-2 have been annexed, but there is stated to be no response except the superior authorities asking the Corporation to carry out the necessary exercise.
In view of the aforesaid, we call upon respondents more specifically respondent No. 3 to respond to the representations of the petitioner and, if unauthorizedly any encroachments have taken place, to take action in accordance with law. In doing so, the Corporation will, however, endeavor not to destroy the green areas created which can be for the benefit of the public at large.”
These orders were communicated by Sri Kamal Jeet Singh, Advocate, to MCF on 13-09-2013. In the face of the Court order, which could no longer be ignored, a drive was launched by MCF for the removal of the encroachments on 22nd November 2013. The MCF senselessly wrecked the greenbelt developed by the residents to beautify the surroundings of their plot as shown in Pic.02 below:
The MCF, however, left untouched the long pucca driveway ramps, which constituted one flank of the hard core encroachment of the green belt as shown in Pic. 01 (taken on 22-12-2013 after the ‘encroachment removal’ drive of MCF on 22-11-13). Court’s orders specifically referred to that encroachment opposite the commercial shops in Sector 21-A. This was in the full knowledge of the Municipal Commissioner and the Joint Municipal Commissioner, but there is appalling apathy from top to bottom in MCF.
As indiscriminate destruction of the landscaping of the 5 feet greenbelt to maintain a clean environment and improve the ambience of the sector (Pic.02), did not make any sense, at the request of residents, Joint Commissioner (Encroachments), accompanied by Subdivisional Officer (Encroachments), an engineer, inspected Sector 21-A on the 25th November 2013, three days after the demolition drive. JC(E) told the MCF engineer that the next drive should commence from the 21-A commercial sector to remove the hard core encroachments as ordered by the Hon. High court. JC(E) unequivocally assured the residents that no further action will be taken to demolish the greenbelt put up by them to beautify the sector.
The discussion with JC (E) was followed up with a representation dated 26-11-13 in which the residents sought her decision on the following broad policy in regard to the greenbelt in the sector:
- It should be open to public view for any passerby to enjoy the greenery;
- It should have no access from inside the plot which might be construed as creating an easement right on the public land;
- It should improve the ambience and aesthetics of the colony by keeping the plot surroundings neat and tidy, and
- The driveway ramp should not extend more than 5 to 6 feet beyond the plot boundary, the typical width of a footpath in urban areas, where provided by Authority, and the greenbelt must be accommodated within this width.
The MCF did not reply to any of the representation, nor did it take any action for the next seven months to remove the hard core encroachments from the commercial sector mentioned in the Hon. Court’s orders, hoping that the matter will die down and no action would have to be taken against the plots in question (Pic.01).
As the petitioner, who filed the suit against the encroachments, was disgusted with the tardy progress of the compliance of the court’s orders by MCF, he filed a contempt petition in the Court. Goaded by the Court’s strictures the MCF again made a second show of taking action to remove the encroachments on 25-06-2014.
In the name of the compliance of Court’s orders the MCF functionaries wreaked havoc on the greenbelt of all the plots in the sector as would be seen from Pic.03 below:
However, the brazen encroachments against which the Hon. Court had passed the strictures have been left untouched and exist even today in all their glory being in the commercial area, as would be seen from Pic. 04 below.
The MCF technical wing responsible for removing the encroachments have no system of documentation and removal of encroachments. They have even forgotten what constitutes an encroachment of public land. The long driveway ramp extending into public land, which provides a flank for the encroachment of the green belt has been left untouched as, in their perception, it does not constitute an encroachment! This is the result of the demise of professional leadership in the technical departments. The entire administrative machinery is now engaged in defending the action of the Municipal Engineer who made the perverted interpretation of the Court’s orders.
~ M.M. Goyal, Former Additional Member, Railway Board, blogs and shares his knowledge at: Construction Handbook