Saturday, November 25, 2017
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encroachments road side

Where are the footpaths? As one steps out on the roads one looks around to see where have the footpaths gone—the footpaths on which pedestrians would once upon a time walk with absolute safety? It doesn’t take one long to notice that all those footpaths--or the space which once upon a time comprised the footpaths –has been swallowed by the encroachers of all varieties.

We are paying for the  administrative laxity shown by the previous officials who are supposed to have safeguarded the integrity of our roads but who allowed the public thoroughfares to be turned into private, undeclared property of the encroachers and who, in turn,  just refuse to leave  them despite being thrown out from there repeatedly .
The courts in the past have issued stern warning that in case an encroacher reappears the police will face the axe of accountability. But nothing seems to scare either the encroachers or their benefactors whose double game is so glaringly evident as not to escape the attention of even those with an impaired vision. These  officials obey the court orders, go out with bulldozers (after secretly warning their ‘friends’ about the impending raid), remove all the encroachments and come back with a report that would satisfy the courts. On the other hand some of them presumably once again shake hands with the encroachers. What that handshake means  need not be elaborated. And the results are there for all to see. The real losers are those who were initially allowed because they ‘satisfied’ those concerned but who are now bulldozed because they failed to realize that in this work, ‘recurring deposits’ are a must to earn extra ‘interest’ by way of unhampered freedom to embark upon the encroachment adventure afresh till the Court once again comes heavily down on them and the whole story is repeated.

This recurring drama will go on and on like the fresh episodes in a TV serial that also goes on and on, with new artistes replacing the same characters. The point is: Where lies the fault? Obviously it is the leniency of the senior staff to come down with an iron hand on defaulters—especially the habitual defaulters. And many still feel that things may improve if the court charges the officials with repeated contempt of court and sends them to jail.  I would suggest that for  future action and accountability it would first of all be essential to fix the responsibility on officials of different departments—the Nagar Nigam, the ADA, the police and the district administration. The officers along with their designations should be named in advance and warned that in case there is recurrence of encroachment they will all be hauled up for the contempt of court. And once if some of them are sent to jail for defying the court orders, they may realize that no longer can they bluff  anyone. If the law of the land applies to an ordinary man, it should apply with double the force to the erring officials. But this can be done if their combined responsibility is fixed so that the practice of shifting the blame on others may stop.

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