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'Deploying Bulldozers Not the Answer': Bombay HC on Demolition Drive by Railways

The court was hearing a petition against the demolition drive by Western railways which razed 101 structures.

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'Deploying Bulldozers Not the Answer': Bombay HC on Demolition Drive by Railways
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The Bombay High Court in an interim order observed 'deploying bulldozers' is not the solution since it brings to the fore 'the problem of human displacement,' and called for a considerate approach to deal with alleged encroachments.

The case: While hearing a petition against the demolition drive initiated by Western railways to raze 101 'illegal structures' to the ground, a bench of Justice Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale said on 8 February:

“Throughout, we bear in mind that merely labelling these persons as “encroachers” is not going to answer the problem. This is a serious problem in the city and it is a problem of human displacement. Sometimes, the scale of the displacement is beyond the imagination. It has to be addressed in a more considered fashion than by merely deploying bulldozers on the site."

'No further demolitions': The court added that "no further demolitions are to be carried out until the next date in contravention of the Supreme Court order anywhere on Western Railway lands in Greater Mumbai."

What else was wrong with the demolition? The High Court pointed out:

> Although the Supreme Court was told that the people would be rehabilitated under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana Scheme (PMAYS) after scrutiny with regard to their eligibility, "none of that seems to have been done"

> Nor do the eviction notices mention any rehabilitation scheme or the eligibility requirement for the scheme.”

> The notices weren't issued under the mandated Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971

>  After the demolition drive the debris was thrown into a low-lying area, with the presumption is that it will get washed into the Arabian Sea, which the court "most emphatically" does not approve of

What next? Noting that the drive did not even keep with "even the letter, let alone the spirit, of the Supreme Court orders," the court listed the case for further hearing on 1 March.

(With inputs from LiveLaw)

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