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It was on January 3 that the Mohali Municipal Corporation (MC) issued notices to a long list of residents for encroaching upon government land around their houses. The notice gave residents 20 days to remove their encroachments or face action. However, the residents have claimed that they received the notices on January 26. The issue raised a lot of heat at the general house meeting on February 1. Following this, the house decided to give residents time till the end of the month to remove the offending railings and green walls, erected outside their houses.

Encroachments around houses came into focus after Justice Amol Rattan Singh at the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the administration to free Sector 19, Chandigarh, of such encroachments to open up space for parking and pedestrians. In Mohali, the problem is rampant in areas like Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 6, and Phase 4, besides Sector 70 and 71. Phase 3 B2, one of the posh areas of the city, is also notorious for illegal encroachments.

N S Kalsi, a retired engineer of Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and president of Residents Welfare Association (RWA), Phase 4, said many people have installed iron grills and concrete walls to encroach upon prime areas, leading to shortage of space for parking vehicles.

Kalsi, further said that there is no provision in the master plan to build a wall or install any grill. “I have been fighting for vacating the government land for long, but the results are not encouraging,” he added.

Encroachment by MC

Claiming that MC had itself encroached government land outside its office, he asked, “How can it enforce rules among others?”

As per the bylaws, all house owners have to leave 5-feet space around their houses. In case the area around the houses is more than five feet, the house owners can put a grill which can be removed anytime.

The president of Confederation of RWAs, C L Garg, said they have given many representations for removing the illegal encroachments but to no avail. He added that there are many retired bureaucrats who have gobbled up public land but the civic body is turning a blind eye to them.

Anita Sharma, a resident of Phase 2, groused that they have no space to park their vehicles because of such encroachments.

Mayor Kulwant Singh said they have given a month’s time to the people to remove the encroachments. “Otherwise MC will remove it. No one will be spared”, he added.

MC sent the notices under Section 246 A of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act. In case the owner does not remove the encroachments, the MC will impose a fine of Rs 10,000 and the encroachment will be forcefully removed by MC.

Residents object

Meanwhile, those who received the notices, seemed quite unfazed. “We received the notice and we have asked to remove the grills from outside from our house. We have installed the grills only up to a permissible limit,” claimed Mahinder Singh Maloya, a resident of Sector 67.

Baljeet Singh, a resident of Sector 67, seemed quite angry at this move of the MC. “This way the entire city will have to be rebuild. You go anywhere and there is an encroachment. What was the MC doing till now? Why have they suddenly woken up?”

Mastan Singh, a resident who also received a notice, appeared in no mood to relent. “We will consult with the resident welfare associations and also go for legal opinion before filing our replies. We are also wondering whether the MC will remove the encroachments from outside the houses of retired bureaucrats and other influential people in the city.”

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