120 Pak Hindu families living on Yamuna floodplains

Last Updated 17 October 2019, 13:55 IST

Over 100 Pakistani Hindu families came to the national capital a few years ago on pilgrimage visa, but instead of returning they started living in jhuggis and semi-permanent structures on the Yamuna floodplains south of Gurudwara Majnu Ka Tila.

Many of them obtained Aadhaar cards, PAN cards and bank accounts based on the Majnu Ka Tila address where they are residing and their children also started going to the nearby government school.

The revelation was made in a report filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in pursuance to a plea filed by one Jagdev seeking action against encroachments adjacent to the south of the gurudwara on the Yamuna riverbed and massive cutting down of the trees affecting the river's integrity.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong note of the report and asked how authorities could allow such encroachment on the Yamuna floodplains.

The tribunal directed the DDA to remove encroachment from the floodplains and file an action taken report in the matter.

Though no electricity is provided to this settlement, it has a water supply through common taps. Some of the occupants have even started small shops near the footpath.

The details were divulged in the report following inspection by officials comprising those from the Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Senior advocate and Rajiv Bansal and advocate Kush Sharma appeared for the DDA in the case.

"During inspection of the site, it was found that 120 families approximately 700 persons of Pakistani Hindu nationals who came to India on pilgrimage visa from 2011 to 2014 are staying in jhuggis and semi-permanent structures. The land under their occupation is nearly 5000 square yards.

"From the information gathered from occupants, it was informed that they were asked to occupy this place by government officials but there was no such written permission with the occupants. The above land belongs to land and development office under Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs which was transferred to DDA on July 7, 1971 for care and maintenance," the report stated.

It said that the land use of this piece of land on which they are residing is green and it falls in Yamuna floodplains.

"The occupants are staying there for last few years and the matter was pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs for grant of Indian citizenship or long term visa to such Pakistani nationals who came to India on pilgrim visa.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs vide letter dated August 7, 2013 addressed by Dy Secretary home/passport, GNCTD directed DCP to complete the requisite formalities and render suitable assistance for the submission of long term visa proposals of the Pakistani nationals at the earliest. The Ministry of Home Affairs also recommended that they may be treated sympathetically in accordance with the extant laws/procedure and legal provisions governing the grant of the long term visa and citizenship," the report said.

The Delhi government was also directed to take stock of the infrastructure facilities and living conditions of the Pakistani nationals and they were asked to submit a status report to the Home Affairs Ministry in this regard, it said.

The plea filed by Jagdev states that jhuggi dwellers have set up commercial stalls all along the outer Ring Road resulting in traffic jams and in the process of this encroachment the footpaths have been rendered unusable for pedestrians, thereby affecting the environment.

The jhuggi dwellers have also fell a large number of trees in the green belt owned by the DDA to make more space for the ever growing jhuggis, resulting in rapid shrinking of the green belt, it said.

"Google Maps of the year 2015 and 2017 showing depleting green cover have been relied on. The encroaching dwellers are releasing sewage and garbage into the Yamuna and on the green belt on the riverfront, thereby causing irreparable damage to the river ecosystem and the flora and fauna on the riverbed," the plea alleged.

(Published 17 October 2019, 13:35 IST)

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