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Brief breather from bulldozers

A section of residents, who had encroached on Harmu rivulet in the state capital by making illegal additions to their houses, got more time to vacate the structures after the local councillor intervened on Friday and objected to the way demolition was being carried out by the district officials.

Arun Kumar Jha, councillor of ward No. 37 under which Harmu falls, confronted the four-member demolition squad — led by circle officer (town) Badshah Ali Khan — when it reached the site with earthmover, tractor and security personnel in tow around 11am on Friday.

Jha prevented the team members from pulling down the illegal extensions of the houses, as they were not following the order mentioned on the list. Khan’s team had started the anti-encroachment drive on Thursday from house listed at No. 16, angering the occupants.

“You have a list of 23 encroachers, who have been numbered accordingly. Why didn’t you pull down the extended structure of the house mentioned at No. 1 instead of starting your work randomly?” Jha asked Khan.

He added that the team could not adopt a pick-and-choose method and raze structures from anywhere they wanted because it led to confusion among the residents.

“Your style of functioning has puzzled many families, whose names came far below in the list. They were ready to remove the illegal structures on their own, expecting that their turn would come after 15 unauthorised constructions were razed,” Jha added.

Sensing trouble, Khan immediately stopped the drive and informed his higher-ups.

When contacted, sub-divisional magistrate Ameet Kumar, however, said: “The circle officer (town) is at the site. He will handle the matter.”

Circle officer (town) Khan promised that the issue would be resolved and the anti-encroachment drive would continue full-fledged on Saturday. “The councillor or for that matter anyone else cannot stop demolition as it is being carried out on the order of Jharkhand High Court,” Khan said.

In fact, the matter was resolved within three hours and the drive started from house No. 1.

Why did he in the first place not go about his task serially?

Khan said, “The encroachers listed from 1 to 15 had raised some objections to the measurements that the administration had carried out by comparing the original breadth and length of the rivulet with the existing figures to ascertain how much of it had been unlawfully occupied. We thought we could start work from the ones that had agreed to the measurements and solve this issue simultaneously.”

Harmu can now finally hope for a fresh lease of life.


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