Religious structures’ demolition for infra projs cleared after govt approval, L-G cites in notes
New Delhi: Lt Governor VK Saxena cleared the proposal to remove nine “unauthorised” religious structures along the upcoming Delhi-Saharanpur Expressway after the file approving their demolition was sent to him by the Delhi government, officials at the Lt Governor’s Office said on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday appealed to Saxena to prevent the demolition of religious structures for different infrastructure projects, saying these buildings were 40-90 years old and there were police reports that such an action could trigger a law-and-order situation.
Clearing the file for the removal of nine unauthorised religious structures out of the 23 recommended by the National Highways Authority of India on the Delhi side of the Akshardham Junction-Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border for the expressway, Saxena noted that necessary approvals were
given by the chief minister and his deputy before the file was sent to him.
“While (the) deputy chief minister had approved this proposal on December 9, 2022, the chief minister endorsed the same on February 1, 2023, before sending it to this (L-G) Secretariat on February 8, 2023,” file notings by Saxena showed.
The Lt Governor also noted that it was unfortunate that projects to decongest roads and develop residential colonies in Delhi were being “stonewalled” for “political gains” despite clear directions of the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court.
“That this is being done for petty political gains is not only unfortunate but amounts to blatant and willful violation of the orders of the courts by GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi), apart from exhibiting sheer hypocrisy,” Saxena noted.
The Lt Governor also cited various court rulings regarding the removal of unauthorised religious structures.
In an order dated September 29, 2009, the Supreme Court directed that each unauthorised religious structure on public places such as roads and parks would be reviewed on a case-by-case by state and Union Territory governments concerned and appropriate steps taken expeditiously, the Lt Governor noted. Delhi High Court, in an order on March 14, 2022, observed that the government concerned were “duty bound” to remove all unauthorised constructions that might exist on public land.
“The mere fact that the encroachments represents religious structures, a place of worship or are given the colour of a religious structure, cannot possibly detract or dilute from that obligation,” Saxena noted citing the high court observation.
“I have reiterated the above at the risk of repetition with the hope that you would appreciate and accordingly execute the letter and spirit of above mentioned pronouncements in the interests of Delhi, which is the capital of India, and its people to whom you owe good governance.
“It is also expected that the same will be conveyed to your colleagues in the Cabinet and they will also be advised to refrain from politicising issues in the name of religion,” Saxena noted, referring to the chief minister.
Sisodia had claimed that the Lt Governor had sent 19 files to the government for various central and Delhi government projects, seeking demolition of 74 religious structures.
Delhi Police reports mentioned that demolition of these religious structures would lead to huge protests and the national capital’s law and order situation might escalate to “riots”, he had claimed in a press conference.