The Delhi High Court, on Friday, directed creation of a standing unit or cell, which would be tasked with the formulation of effective land management policies.
Elaborating on the functions of the cell, the Bench comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice S.P. Garg observed, "This cell shall also evolve the appropriate task force (or task forces), which shall clear encroachments on public lands in a systematic, and time-bound manner. The task force or cell, in the opinion of the Court, should be given statutory status and manned by high ranking officers; it should have a separate office, all under the authority of the DDA."
The Court further opined that the cell should be entrusted with the task of monitoring the land management policies already in place, as well as implementing Court orders whenever necessary. It is also expected to design a software to cater, real time, to the needs of the agencies.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has now been directed to file an 'action taken report' within ten weeks, after consulting the Centre, the State, Delhi police and other local and municipal bodies operating in Delhi.
The Court had initiated suo motu proceedings in April, 2005, taking cognizance of a newspaper report claiming that up to 42,000 acres of land belonging to the DDA was either encroached upon or not under DDA's possession.
During a recent hearing, the Court noted the discrepancies in the details provided by the Union Land and Development Office and the DDA, with regard to the land under its possession and that encroached upon. It lamented the fact that the DDA was not certain about the extent of encroachment and opined that the DDA's record in securing its land from encroachers is "appalling".
Rapping the authorities for their incompetence, it then observed, "Without using strong language, it is clear that at considerable public expense and cost, acquisition proceedings are undertaken, with a view to execute a planned public project. Even before the implementation of such project (be it extension of roads, construction of highways or any other public utility work) acquired land- vacant or otherwise is encroached upon – in most cases, partly. The DDA or the concerned agency is unable to execute the project – at least in a timely manner."
The matter has now been directed to be listed on 19 January to ensure that the consequential action is taken.