Election Commission permission for clearance of Pushta

On Friday 12.03.04 media reported EC permission for
Pushta clearance. On Monday 15.03.04, in a repeat of
what had happened in Gautam Puri II just over a month
ago, with massive para-military force deployment MCD
arrived to stage histrionics of voluntary relocation
camps and free trucks. Already a letter about the
problem with EC clearance had been sent on 12.03.04,
in continuation of previous letters about problems
with the EC directive. On 16.03.04 another letter was
taken with intent to meet. Officials were met and they
assured they would take up the matter with CEC on
17.03.04.

---Letter of 12.03.04---
Chief Election Commissioner
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi ¡V110001

Sub: EC approval for clearance of Yamuna Pushta:
Conflict with Delhi Development Act, 1957
Ref: 'Shifting of Yamuna Pushta slums approved', The
Hindu; previous letters

Sir,
Vide my letter of 19.02.04 I had sought an urgent
appointment to place before EC facts about instances
for which permission for evictions was likely to be
sought. I had requested that the ban EC had directed
for fidelity of electoral rolls be an unconditional
one since permission for evictions, and thereby
schemes, on basis of voting rights alone could create
a situation in which EC is misled to endorse projects
infringing development related rights under Delhi
Development Act, 1957.

Such a situation appears to have arisen in case of EC
approval for evictions / 'ambitious project' on Yamuna
riverfront. The project is not part of any Zonal Plan
duly notified u/s.10 and modifies the Master Plan
without mandatory process of s.11A of DD Act, both
inclusive of right to public scrutiny and comment.
Objections under s.11A to another riverbed 'project'
and representations about sub-optimal / ad-hoc
riverbed planning are also pending before authorities.
These facts appear not to have been placed before EC
while securing approval for instant evictions /
project.

Also, in the settlement already demolished for the
same project, authorities have failed to keep
assurances given to courts within ambit of their
mandates apropos development rights and greater
responsibility apropos voting rights is hardly
expected of them. And Public Notice about proposal to
delete from the rolls 1636 evicted electors (please
refer my letters of 04 & 05.03.04) makes, if anything,
a case for a firmer directive against evictions rather
than recall of the same.

The eviction effected on 13.02.04, ie after directive
of 12.02.04 but without EC clearance, along with
evictions started / effected / proposed with and
without EC clearance (please refer my letters of 04,
06 & 08.03.04) and perhaps also evictions during
operation of EC directive prior to Assembly elections,
do merit assessment in terms of implications for free
and fair elections. I apprehend that the protection
intended by EC directive has been rendered illusory by
authorities¡¦ wilful disregard of the directive. What
seems to be happening, instead, is that the special
permission clause is being used to create an
extra-constitutional mechanism for securing, by
presenting incomplete facts, endorsement of projects
and priorities that are not justifiable in law. This
is wholly extraneous to the purpose and spirit of the
EC directive and merits timely assessment before it
becomes established practice.

I am sorry I write rather dense letters, but I assure
you I write out of genuine concern and on basis of
competent chronicling of development events. I request
again an urgent appointment and/or that you please
reconsider your clearance in view of the above.

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
B.Arch (SPA, gold medalist); M.Planning (SPA, gold
medalist); PG Dip-Research (IHS-Rotterdam, top rank);
Dip-Training (DoPT)
Formerly: Senior Fellow (HUDCO-HSMI), Visiting Faculty
(SPA, TVB SHS), Consultant (DfID, IHSP, Nuffic,
UNICEF, etc)
Currently: Independent researcher / writer and
consultant to citizens' groups synergising on Master
Plan Implementation Support Group

encl, for ready reference, previous correspondence as
follows:
1. dt.19.02.04, re DD Act implications of EC
directive, with request for urgent appointment
2. dt. 04.03.04, re Gautam Puri and Azadpur evictions
without permission, ERO notice in former, etc
3. dt. 06.03.04, re inconsistent stands re EC
directive on demolitions in Karampura, Safdarjang, etc

4. dt. 08.03.04, re missing facts re evictions started
/ proposed in Okhla-Badarpur, Masudpur, etc

cc: with request to desist from precipitate action in
view also of prior representations
?h Commissioner, MCD
?h Commissioner, Delhi Police


---Letter of 16.03.04---

Chief Election Commissioner
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi ¡V110001

Sub: URGENT REQUEST FOR HEARING w.r.t para-military
force, demolition notice, etc in Pushta

Sir,
Pursuant to your clearance, amidst massive deployment
of para-military force demolition notice for
17/18.03.04 was pasted on 15.03.04 in Gautam Puri I,
north of Gautam Puri II that was demolished on
13.02.04 and in debris of which ERO Public Notice
about proposal to delete names of 1636 voters from
constituency rolls was pasted for their information in
English on 03.03.04. This is even as:
?h Such demolition notice is illegal in terms of s.30
of Delhi Development Act and such eviction is
untenable in law since slums in Delhi are backlog on
mandatory EWS housing targets.
?h 'Scheme' for which demolition is proposed is not
part of legal Plan for Yamuna riverbed and skirts due
process of law inclusive of mandatory Public Notice
for 90 days u/s.10 or 30 days u/s.11A.
?h The accompanying 'resettlement' is completely
contrary to law and policy.
?h EC clearance for such activity even as it affects
voting rights is inexplicable.

Apropos riverbed, questions about grave implications
(in terms especially of ground water potential for
resolving city water crisis) of 'schemes' not embedded
in the legal Plan are pending disposal u/s.11A Public
Notice for another 'scheme'. And river pollution
justifies only shifting polluting uses and, more
significantly, calls for mandatory legal plan for
riverbed, being delayed and impaired by 'schemes'.

Apropos EWS housing, that Delhi's slum problem owes to
failure on mandatory EWS housing targets of Delhi
Master Plan is confirmed by Planning Commission report
of June 2002 on Delhi slums as well as High Court
order of 12.11.2003 in matters filed by slum
residents, in which subsequent orders have been passed
about failure of respondent to furnish adequate
information as directed by the Court.

High Court order of 03.03.03, compliance of which is
claimed in Pushta clearance, was given in PIL between
industries and authorities. It is pertinent that 80%
of river pollution owes to industrial pollution,
unchecked by authorities despite Supreme Court orders.
This PIL was taken to High Court even after an SLP and
direction about Pushta clearance, beyond scope of the
PIL, came about. It is pertinent that in same PIL,
order of 29.11.02 quashed slum policy and called for
an alternative, which has not been forthcoming on
pretext of SLP, in which authorities have not
furnished relevant facts.

As a qualified planner, I have, for several years now,
been drawing attention (through representations,
reports, notes, web publications, public notice
responses, court matters, etc) to the unaffordable
drift from lawful planned development in Delhi, tip of
which iceberg was exposed as ¡¥DDA scam¡¦ in 2003.

In the instant matter of Pushta, playing out in
indecent haste, I have made several representation
connecting it to prior ones, including in one of
22.01.04 to Standing Parliamentary Committee for Urban
Development, also seized of queries about EC directive
on slums that I have raised with you in letters since
19.02.04 and had raised when it was issued in 2003.
This was copied for favour of information to President
and Chief Justice of India. Vide letter of 11.02.04
(date of current EC directive to MCD, disregarded in
demolition on 13.02.04) I am informed that
representation to President had been forwarded to
Secretary MoUD for appropriate action. Since 13.02.04
I¡¦ve made representations based on qualified
assessments of the eviction, also used to inform an
SLP. While none has cared to respond to questions
based on facts and law, remarkable efficiency was
displayed and touted in media over the weekend after
your clearance was secured, obviously on basis of
selective facts, to gear up to repeat the unforgivable
episode of the previous month, as a result of which
the site was converted to war zone, while Supreme
Court dismissed, without hearing, an SLP based on
points of law, long standing engagements and, in
additional affidavit, rigorously collected recent
facts.

In my letter of 12.03.04 I had requested you
reconsider your clearance and reiterated my request of
19.02.04 for an urgent appointment. With my state on
verge of repeating something that makes me hang my
head in shame, I wait now at the reception in your
office to be heard.
Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
B.Arch (SPA, gold medalist); M.Planning (SPA, gold
medalist); PG Dip-Research (IHS-Rotterdam, top rank);
Dip-Training (DoPT)
Formerly: Senior Fellow (HUDCO-HSMI), Visiting Faculty
(SPA, TVB SHS), Consultant (DfID, IHSP, Nuffic,
UNICEF, etc)
Currently: Independent researcher / writer and
consultant to citizens¡¦ groups synergising on Master
Plan Implementation Support Group



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