All major cities turning into slums: SC

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ByAbraham Thomas, New Delhi

Encroachment on government land is a sad story going on in the country for 75 years, said the Supreme Court on Thursday as it directed the demolition of nearly 1,200 slum units in Gujarat and Haryana and directed the Indian Railways, state governments and concerned municipal authorities to equally bear the cost of compensating the affected residents for a period of six months till those eligible under existing government schemes are provided with alternative housing.

The slums situated in Surat and Faridabad were located on railways land; in the case of the Surat slum, the demolition was necessitated by the Surat-Udhna-Jalgaon railway line project, sanctioned in 2018.

The cases wound their way up to the Supreme Court, which clubbed them since both concerned railway land.

Ruing the fact that encroachment of public land is preventing planned development of cities at the expense of taxpayer money, a bench of justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar said, “This is a sad story going on in the country for 75 years and it is ultimately the taxpayers’ money that goes down the drain.”

The court added: “It is time that local authorities get activated…All our major cities are turning into slums. If you (corporations) do not allow encroachments to happen, there will be planned development everywhere.”

While the Court said that the primary responsibility to prevent encroachment and protect government land is that of the local authority, it also apportioned the liability equally upon railways (owner of land in question) and the states. Together, the three will have to pay a solatium of 2000 per month to each of the households affected by the demolition for the next six months.

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