Delhi High Court Slams MCD Over Illegal Constructions and Flooding Woes

Last week, record rain brought the city to its knees as roads were flooded and water entered homes and offices due to drainage issues.
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In a scathing rebuke, the Delhi High Court recently criticized the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for failing to tackle illegal construction, which has exacerbated the city’s flooding problems. As record rains left Delhi submerged last week, the High Court highlighted how unauthorized constructions are blocking drainage systems, worsening the impact of heavy rainfall on the city.

The Court’s Tough Stance

During a virtual hearing, Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela confronted MCD Commissioner Ashwani Kumar, underscoring the civic body’s inaction against its own officials and the unchecked rise of illegal buildings. The bench expressed frustration, stating, “Your officials have no idea. How can illegal construction take place like this? How can they turn their backs on it? We are being used as pawns in this process.”

The judges pointed out that a regular inspection, even “one round once a week” by MCD officials, could significantly curb the proliferation of unauthorized structures. They urged Kumar to “break the nexus” between corrupt officials and those involved in illegal construction.

The Impact of Unauthorized Constructions

The backdrop to the court’s stern remarks is the severe flooding that hit Delhi after unprecedented rainfall. With roads turning into rivers and water seeping into homes and offices, the city’s drainage issues were laid bare. The High Court noted that unauthorized constructions play a significant role in these drainage problems by blocking essential water outlets.

In response to the court’s concerns, Commissioner Kumar promised strict action and assured that MCD officials would be “sensitized” and a “strong message” would be sent to curb such activities. He acknowledged the need for the corporation to take decisive steps to address the issue.

Legal and Moral Implications

The case in question originated from a plea by a 20-year-old woman seeking to halt and demolish an allegedly illegal construction on a plot in Paharganj. However, the High Court noted a deeper issue, pointing out that “motivated petitions” and the involvement of MCD officials in these unauthorized constructions suggest a broader systemic problem.

“There are people collecting money through this entire process. Our process is collapsing,” the bench stated, revealing the depth of corruption and mismanagement that has led to the current state of affairs.

In an earlier order dated July 1, the court had expressed its prima facie view that the judicial process was being manipulated by both the petitioner and MCD officials for ulterior motives. The court had consequently directed Commissioner Kumar to attend the subsequent hearing to address these concerns.

Moving Forward

The Delhi High Court’s admonition of the MCD highlights a pressing need for accountability and reform within the civic body. With the city’s infrastructure and residents bearing the brunt of unchecked illegal construction, the court’s call for strict action and regular oversight is a step towards mitigating these challenges.

As Delhi continues to grapple with the aftermath of the recent floods, the hope is that this judicial intervention will prompt more rigorous enforcement of building regulations and a crackdown on corruption. The resolution of these issues is crucial for the city’s resilience against future climatic events.

Stay tuned as we follow this developing story and its impact on Delhi’s urban landscape and governance.

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