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Bulldozer Back at Shrikant Tyagi's Noida Colony, Locals Say 'Caught in Politics'

At least 17 'illegal' structures were demolished by the Noida Authority at the Grand Omaxe on Friday.

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“It is tuition time for my children right now but instead of studying in that shed right now, they are watching this,” said a dejected Ankit Khara, a resident of Grand Omaxe, which is a high-rise in Noida’s sector 93B.

At 2 pm, Khara and his family watched workers dismantle the shed he had built in front of his house as a 'study room' for the four children in his family. “I found out that the Noida Authority is demolishing ‘encroachments’ in front of homes in the complex, so I called workers myself to dismantle the shed,” said Khara.

Next door, residents screamed as a bulldozer razed ‘illegal’ structures to the ground in the colony. This is the second time in over a month that bulldozers returned to the Grand Omaxe.

On 9 August, Shrikant Tyagi – a resident of Grand Omaxe, who claimed to be a part of the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Kisan Morcha – was arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman who objected to the ‘encroachment’ outside his house in the colony.

Within two weeks, bulldozers razed Tyagi’s ‘illegal’ shed, and also removed the palm trees he had planted there.

Over a month after this, as bulldozers razed at least 17 ‘illegal’ structures at Grand Omaxe, residents told The Quint how they are “collateral damage in Tyagi’s political tussle.”

Children watch sheds being demolished on Friday. 

(Ashna Butani/The Quint) 

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From Palm Trees to Sheds,'Illegal Structures' Removed

On 28 September, residents told The Quint that the palm trees that had been removed from outside Tyagi’s house in August, were replanted at the same spot.

On the same day, the Noida Authority announced that the residents have 48 hours to remove all their encroachments by themselves. Many such as Khara, however, claim that they did not know about this notice.  

On Friday, Noida Authority CEO Ritu Maheshwari told news agency ANI, “Flat owners were told about illegal constructions that needed to be demolished, but they did not oblige. With police’s help, Noida Authority demolished the illegal construction in the open areas of (Grand Omaxe) society in 17 cases.” 

Bulldozers in Grand Omaxe. 

(The Quint) 

The ‘illegal’ structures included balcony-like sheds that were constructed by residents in the past. Almost each building has sheds right in front of these buildings, and they are linked to the ground floor houses. Some have used it as empty space, while others have tried to make the most of the space by using them for gardening or as a room.

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 ‘Will Take Legal Action’ 

On Friday morning, at least three bulldozers were stationed outside the society. In the afternoon, bulldozers entered the society and the sheds in front of people's homes were broken down – amid protests.

Pankaj Garg, a Supreme Court advocate, was among those residents whose shed was demolished on Friday. He told The Quint, “I will incur loss of at least Rs five lakh. I did not receive any prior notice from the Noida Authority. Without a show-cause notice, no demolitions can take place. We will take legal action and will file an FIR if needed.” 

Garg argued with Ishtiyak Ahmed, General Manager (Planning) of Noida Authority. The official said, “On 7 July, 2020, all the ground floor residents were given a notice that they should remove the encroachments in front of their homes.” 

When residents questioned him about whether there was a recent announcement, he said, “Yes, our ACO came and announced it. Your Resident Welfare Association had made a complaint about the encroachments.”  

‘We Are Struggling Because of Political Vengeance’ 

Sunaina Sarup, a ground-floor resident whose family had constructed a shed, said, “We did not get any notice; people are at work, only elderly and children are at home.”

Defending the construction of ‘illegal’ structures, Sarup said that the “sudden demolitions are unfair.” She said, “People have spent money. It was made for safety and security purposes only.”

Meanwhile, Khara said that “overnight due to political issues, this happened. You will see such sheds across societies in Noida, but only Grand Omaxe is being targeted.” 

SC advocate Garg too called the action “political vengeance.”

Those whose sheds were being broken held posters that read, “Save houses of innocent people.”  

(The Quint) 

As bulldozers removed sheds, many residents on the top floors stood in their balconies and watched the drama unfold. Those whose sheds were being broken held posters that read, “Save houses of innocent people.”  

Before the demolitions started on Friday, Tyagi’s wife Anu said, “It pains me that the residents’ sheds are being broken. Despite what happened to us, I do not want the same to happen to other people. Today, people realised how painful it is to lose parts of your home, and they are now speaking up.”   

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