Crackdown soon on unauthorised construction, task force to file FIRs

The new Special Task Forces of the Delhi government are preparing to file FIRs against owners, tenants and architects of premises with illegal constructions in a renewed push to check unplanned growth.

The STFs, created a few weeks ago, will remind junior engineers (building) and SHOs that they will be “personally responsible” for any encroachment or unauthorised structures coming up in their jurisdiction.

Sources in Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s office said all illegal constructions and encroachment that came up after June 1, 2014 will be targeted by the six-member STFs in each sub-division.

“Apart from prosecution of private owner and occupier, the builder, the labour contractor and architect linked to illegal constructions will be given priority,” said an official.
Each STF is headed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate and includes the area Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Director of the Delhi Development Authority, Zonal Assistant Commissioner of civic agencies, Executive Engineer of PWD and Block Development Officer of Panchayat Department.

To ensure that the STFs do not lose their efficacy, Jung has personally communicated to the Revenue Department that members of the STC “have to attend meetings personally and cannot depute their subordinates to represent them.”
The STFs will function under the monitoring of District Task Force, headed by the area District Magistrate.

Officials fear that anti-encroachment drives may invite complaints of biased action from residents, so the Revenue Department has issued special instructions that the STFs will be supervised by District Task Forces to ensure fairness in their functioning.
During discussions in the Revenue Department, it was decided to dig out an old order of the Delhi High Court of November 3, 1997 in which civic engineers and police officials were made responsible for checking illegal construction.

The order was delivered by court in a petition filed by NGO Common Cause against the central government. An official said that for proper monitoring of STFs functioning, the SDMs have been told to submit monthly progress reports on the 7th of every month to the district Deputy Commissioners.

The report will be presented before the government for updating the authorities about the functioning of the STFs. Sources in the government said the concept of the DTFs and STFs is old and their actions run into political hurdles as voters of the ruling party expect that they would be shielded from any coercive action.“The political will of the AAP government to remove encroachment will be tested in the fresh drive,” said an official.

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