Games Municipal Corporations play?

A thriving businessman living in New Brij Puri in EDMC’s Shahdara South division, Mehboob Ansari believe that everything is up for grab in this country, by hook or by crook, if you have the money to purchase it. Needless to say, he blatantly uses his money to “purchase” services and favours from erring clerks in municipalities who are ever willing to pass on favours for a little bribe. In one of those rare moments when he opens out in front of others, consequence of a boastful sway of character, Ansari told this correspondent how he has paid money so that the officers look the other way while he got his buildings constructed. Ansari who owns several houses in the locality, which are given on rent, is a habitual offender none of whose houses have been constructed after obtaining the requisite permissions from the authorities. On the contrary all of them, he boasts, have been constructed by paying the floor rate to the junior engineers in the municipal corporations to look the other way.

Look the other way, this is exactly what the municipal corporations do! Social Workers Association which claims itself to be a watchdog since 1987 for implementing, rectifying, altering and/or reforming the society, in the larger interest of the common public, brought the case to the knowledge of the then EDMC commissioner Amit Yadav through a letter dated December 4, 2015 (the copy of which is available with this correspondent) in which it highlighted how few house-owners were targeted for constructing their houses while few others were let go for the same offence.

It so happened that few houses were being constructed in New Brij Puri at the same time. EDMC officers swooped in on the colony and sealed all the houses, including the house of Mehboob Ansari which too was getting constructed. Ansari swung into action and by evening the seal of his house was removed while the remaining houses in the colony remained sealed for more than a year. All construction remained suspended in the other houses while Ansari completed the construction, in a blatant mockery of the law and its executioners. No heed was paid to the complaint by the Association, nor was a need felt by the EDMC to respond.

Without naming Ansari, the letter written to Amit Yadav refers to the 4-5 houses in the colony (New Brij Puri) that had been sealed and said: “it is true that civic rules need to be followed but what is the logic of few houses being sealed while rest continue to be made at a stone’s throw distance. Both were equally flouting the rules, but the authorities decided to seal some and leave some.”

Signed by the secretary, the letter further said: “I wish to bring to your notice that other houses were being built even when few others were sealed and houses are being built even now when the earlier ones remain sealed. Gossip is that owners of those houses which got sealed didn’t do ‘something’ which the others who were left did.”

“It is also being said that one of the house owners, who had shifted on rent to another premise, so that his house could be built,  had taken loan for the purpose and was expecting to return it through rent when the house would be complete, died of heart failure a few days after his under-construction house was sealed. I have heard that even the sealed houses are given a green signal by officials to rebuild, when the file goes to some corners of the MCD office, that too in lieu of certain ‘favours’. Incidentally, some of the sealed houses, have already started rebuilding after opening up the sealed lock.”

The letter asked EDMC to respond whether any policy decision has been taken in this regard. It said: “We wish to know what policy decisions have been taken in this regard and how is it that the same fate does not befall two different people, who both are guilty of the same ‘crime’.”

Social Workers Association, claims its Secretary, is yet to get a response for the letter sent through registered post, way back in December 2015. Meanwhile, the status quo continues wherein houses in all municipalities are getting constructed on regular basis, but at the same time erring junior officers see to it that construction is stalled unless their palms are greased.

The million dollar question is how it is possible that the houses are sealed and de-sealed, without documentation. When asked, a junior clerk in EDMC gave away the answer. Some houses need to be sealed to show that the zonal officers are not keeping a blind eye to the rampant illicit construction. The house owners who try to ‘act smart’ by paying no heed to the JE’s repeated visits or try to negotiate fall to the guillotine. Once sealed, the construction has to remain stalled for some time, until the matter subsides and the file gets buried under the heap of more files. Then, if the house owner pursues ‘in the right earnest’, he is given a go-ahead to remove the seal silently and finish the construction. This is the modus operandi, which could not be substantiated because the EDMC Commissioner did not respond to the pointed questions sought by the Social Workers Association.

The question that remains unanswered to this day is how Mehboob Ansari’s house was sealed and then unsealed the same day so that he could continue with his construction. Apparently, despite his boastful self-aggrandizement, there are some secrets that people like Ansari still do not divulge.

The incumbent LG at Delhi is known for strictly enforcing the regulations. It remains to be seen how he pulls up the municipalities to fall in line and make their houses in order, particularly amid the repeated rhetoric of the Aam Aadmi Party regarding corruption in our municipalities.

RNI (Real News Intl) News Agency

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