The Supreme Court has ordered the removal of nearly 48,000 slum dwellings around the 140-kilometer length of railway tracks in New Delhi within three months, and has further directed that no court should grant any stay on the removal of the slums.
"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", the top court ordered.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, in an order passed on August 31, further stated "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 order was passed in the M C Mehta case, in which the apex court had been passing a slew of directions from time to time since 1985 in issues related to pollution in and around Delhi.
The bench passed the direction after the Railways stated in the affidavit filed before the Court that there is a "predominant presence" of jhuggies in Delhi along with 140 km route length of track in the region of NCT of Delhi. The Railways stated that out of this, about 70 km route 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 48000 nos of Jhuggies in the region adjacent to Railway tracks, the Court was told.
The Railways further stated that following the directions passed by the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, in October 2018, a Special Task Force for removal of encroachments from the Railway Property has already been constituted.
The Court was further told by the Railways that there was "political intervention" which comes in the way of the removal of encroachments.
The Railways filed the affidavit in response to the report submitted by the Environment Pollution (Protection and Control) Authority stating that the Railways was not in compliance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.
In this regard, the bench - also including Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari - passed directions with regard to removal of plastic bags and garbage from the tracks with the cooperation of the statutory authority like Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, Corporations and the State Governments.
"We direct that let the plan be executed with respect to removal of the plastic bags, garbage etc. within a period of three months and a meeting of all the stakeholders, i.e. Railways, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and concerned Municipal Corporations as well as Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Trust (DUISB) be called next week and work be started forthwith. 70% of the requisite amount shall be borne by the Railways and 30% by the State Government. The manpower be provided by the SDMC, Railways and agencies available with the Government, free of cost, and they will not charge it from each other. SDMC, Railways and other agencies to ensure that their Contractors do not put the waste/garbage on the sides of the railway tracks", the Court ordered in this regard.