Had the top authorities of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) applied their mind in executing Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's directive to raze 28,000 unauthorised constructions on or along storm water drains, lakes and other water bodies, they would not have faced strictures from the Hyderabad High Court on Friday. No doubt KCR had asked GHMC to go ahead with the demolition of all illegal structures without succumbing to pressure from any political party, minister, MP, MLA or any other politician.
That doesn’t mean GHMC should dispense with established procedures. The HC read the riot act and rightly directed the municipal authorities to issue notices to the occupiers before razing such structures. The court asked GHMC to give the occupiers three weeks' time to respond. Thereafter, GHMC may take action after letting the owners know why the structures are unauthorized and why they have to be demolished.
The court passed the orders on a series of petitions filed by the owners of unauthorized constructions, challenging the action of the GHMC. On Wednesday, the HC stayed demolition of a couple of structures. The court observed that, while it can understand the intention behind demolitions, the GHMC should adopt the proper method. The court also wanted to know from the government as to what action it proposed to take against the officials who had turned a blind eye to unauthorized structures all these years. Enthused by the CM’s green light, GHMC’s demolition and enforcement squads, have been razing encroachments on nalas, lakebeds and tanks; invoking Section 405 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act. Section 405 has been invoked to forestall legal battles; for, encroachers can’t approach courts for stay orders as notices need not be served. Section 405 gives powers to the civic body to remove encroachments without serving notices if the structure, temporary or permanent, is on any street, open channel, drain, well or tank. Over the past week the civic body has demolished over 600 structures. Officials say they hope to remove all encroachments before the onset of the next monsoon.