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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 17:29 GMT
Delhi told to hasten demolitions
By Shyam Sunder
BBC News, Delhi

Delhi police stand guard in a Delhi market after recent bombs
Delhi's government has increased police deployment for demolitions
The High Court in the Indian capital, Delhi, has told city officials to step up demolitions of illegal buildings.

It said the drive had been "cosmetic" so far, and ordered authorities to target those in power - or ordinary people would think it was unfair.

Nearly 18,000 illegal constructions are being pulled down across the city following a court order last November.

Correspondents say it is the first time the city's better-off areas have seen major demolitions.


The ruling by two High Court judges said Delhi's municipal commissioner, Ashok Kumar Nigam, needed to send a message to the common man that he was not being discriminated against.

"Start demolitions from tomorrow with the powerful and the influential of the city," the ruling said.

The judges expressed their anger at a survey filed by the corporation which said that 80% of construction in Delhi was illegal.

"By this report, did you intend to put a fear psychosis in the mind of the court that demolition on such a scale was not possible?

"By this survey you have put the honest citizen of Delhi to shame."

'No authority'

The two judges also took exception to media reports that some local politicians were trying to influence the process.

"Anybody who is a member of any legislative body has no authority to interrupt the ongoing demolitions," they said.

"And if anyone tries to do that, you tell the court and we will take care of him."

The court also told the commissioner to include rural areas on the outskirts of Delhi which were generally exempted from the city's building bye-laws and where, the court said, most violations took place.

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