The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Mohali municipal corporation and Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to remove all encroachments from public spaces along roads and in commercial and residential areas within six months.
The authorities have also been directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings within three months against the officers in whose tenure the encroachment and unauthorised constructions have taken place.
“The public paths, footpaths, open spaces, parks, corridors, streets, roads cannot be permitted to be encroached upon. It is the duty cast upon the statutory authorities to ensure that no unauthorised construction takes place in public places… (It) causes immense hardship to the public at large,” the bench of justice Rajiv Sharma and justice Harinder Singh Sidhu observed.
The court was hearing a plea from Area Social Welfare Association, Phase 11, a registered body of residents. It was alleged in the petition that a large number of street vendors and daily fruit and vegetable vendors have encroached upon open spaces in front of houses of high income group in Phase 11.
“They have also set up temporary kiosks on the footpath without getting the licence from the competent authority,” it was submitted, seeking direction to local authorities to remove the vendors.
In fact, in August 2018, the MC had conducted a survey and identified 4,200 encroachers in residential areas of Mohali, but have not issued any notice to date. The situation has gone bad to worse, especially in 3B1, 3B2, 7, 9, 10, and 11, where vendors are fearlessly operating in parking lots and on the main road.
‘State is custodian of public property’
The HC bench, taking serious note of the plea, enlarged the scope and issued directions for whole of the Mohali city, observing that the state is the custodian of public property and in the present case, the statutory authorities are remiss in discharge of their statutory duties.
While disposing of the plea, the HC has now directed the MC and GMADA to remove all illegal and unauthorised encroachments from public paths, footpaths, open spaces, parks, corridors, street, road and pavement within the municipal limits within a period of six months. However, it has been made clear that the principle of natural justice be followed, which means that encroachers be served notices before eviction.
The MC commissioner and GMADA chief administrator have been told that they would be personally responsible to implement and execute the HC order while the senior superintendent of police has been directed to render all assistance to the statutory authorities in the process.