The Supreme Court ordered the removal of 48,000 jhuggies (shanties)along 140 kilometres of railway track around Delhi within three months.
The three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari also held that if any interim order is passed in the meanwhile staying the removal of the encroachments along the railway tracks, such an order for Smog Towers will not be effective.
“The encroachments which are there in the 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. In case any interim order is granted with respect to encroachments, which have been made along with railway tracks, that shall not be effective.”
The Railways had submitted before the Court that there was a predominant presence of jhuggies along the 140 km 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 take off of all these routes.
Out of this, about 70 km length of track is affected by large jhuggie-jhopri clusters existing in close vicinity of the tracks. These clusters sum up to a total of about 48,000 jhuggies.
The Court further noted that there were certain “political interventions” which had affected the removal of these encroachments earlier. The Bench stated,
“Special Task Force for removal of encroachments from the Railway Property has already been constituted by Railway in terms of the directions and order dated 01.10.2018 passed by the NGT PB New Delhi. There seems to be some political intervention against removal of such encroachments which are coming in the way.“
The Court was told that the smog towers to be set up to curb air pollution in the capital would be constructed within ten months. The Court noted,
“Any violation on any ground whatsoever shall be treated as contempt of the order passed by this Court as there is already huge unjustified delay in making the compliance of the order.”