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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities to maintain the status quo on various properties in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park area of the national capital that have been identified for demolition as part of an anti-encroachment drive until February 16.
The high court also ordered the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to respond to a slew of petitions challenging the demolition action and seeking a halt to demolition in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park area of south Delhi until a new “demarcation report” is prepared.
Nearly 20 multi-story buildings, a large number of shops and houses, and a private school building are among the structures built “illegally” in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park over the last few decades, which the authorities have identified as part of the anti-encroachment drive.
Without interfering with the demolition process at this point, Justice Pushkarna issued a notice to the Delhi government and DDA on the petition filed by Mehrauli Minorities Resident and Shop Owners Welfare and directed that the matter be heard by the division bench headed by the Chief Justice, where a similar case is already pending.
The drive, which began on February 10, coincides with a proposed G20 meeting at the park in south Delhi. According to the DDA, the old park is home to approximately 55 monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, the state archaeological department, and the urban civic body.
On February 10, the high court ordered the authorities to maintain the status quo for 400 jhuggis in Mehrauli’s Ghosiya Slum Colony, which were also scheduled to be demolished.
It has been claimed that the land on which the alleged encroachment occurred belonged to a number of agencies, including the DDA, the Waqf Board, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
According to the demolition notice, the land being demolished is part of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, and the ‘existing unauthorised encroachment’ is impeding its development.