Multiple sub-city-level committees formed to curb illegal encroachments in Faridabad are no longer operational, despite being mandated to carry out inspections, demolition drives and to submit timely reports of their work. Senior officials in the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad (MCF), district administration, and the police department were unaware of the existence of such committees but said that action against illegal encroachments in Faridabad has been ongoing through other channels.
Ahead of a 2012 High Court order demanding action against illegal encroachments on public and government land, the then deputy commissioner, Faridabad, had formed 17 committees to “detect unauthorised constructions made in contravention of building bye-laws and encroachments made on MCF/government land,” on March 30, 2012. Each committee consisted of three members: one SHO from each of Faridabad’s 17 police stations, one MCF official, and a third from one of the various arms of the district administration (including the revenue department, panchayat department, town and country planning department).
The committees were empowered under Section 12-A of the Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas Restriction of Unregulated Development Act (1963) and Section 350-B of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act (1994), which vests in every police officer the duty to report and take action against “commission of any offence” against these Acts, which include illegal occupation of, or construction on, government land. The committees were also instructed to submit reports of their activities on the fifth of every month to the district administration.
Hindustan Times spoke to at least three SHOs in Faridabad who, requesting not to be identified, said they were unaware of such committees. Yash Garg, commissioner, MCF, was also unaware of them. “I do not know if any such committee is presently active. However, a multi-department effort against encroachments is needed. If such committees had indeed been formed, I will look into reviving them.” Yashpal Yadav, deputy commissioner, Faridabad, did not respond to requests seeking comment for this story.
According to documents obtained by Hindustan Times, the committees were active till at least April 2015, but were yet to submit any reports on action against illegal encroachments. A communique issued by the police department to SHOs and officials in the MCF and district administration on April 17, 2015, notes, “We have not been notified via any police officials of action in this regard.” Similar letters (seeking compliance with the committees’ duties) were also issued by the police department on April 10, 2012, April 15, 2013, December 19, 2014, January 1, 2015, and April 8, 2015.
In 2018, Faridabad resident Vishnu Goel sought information on the workings of these committees via an RTI request, namely the number of reports submitted by them since their inception. The RTI response, provided by the PIO, Faridabad police, dated July 2018, states, “For stopping illegal constructions in the city, committees were constituted vide letter dated March 30, 2018... there are no available records in relation to the information sought.” However, the RTI response also contains information on 42 FIRs which were filed against illegal constructions on government land between 2012 and 2017. These were registered based on independent complaints by the MCF, DTCP, and others.
“At present, the three joint commissioners in Faridabad are responsible for taking action against such encroachments, which has been ongoing. They are also submitting regular action taken reports. We will look into the reconstitution of these committees, which would be a huge help to the city,” municipal commissioner Garg said.