Turning the tables on encroachers : The Tribune India

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Turning the tables on encroachers

Turning the tables on encroachers

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Surinderjit Singh Sandhu

MORE than two decades ago, there were news reports that a legislator had illegally occupied a rest house of the Irrigation Department. He later made it his residence. The subdivisional officer concerned made half-hearted efforts to get the premises vacated by writing letters to the subdivisional magistrate, the deputy commissioner (DC) and the executive engineer. He feared that all-out action might result in his ‘punishment’ transfer. The authorities took more than a decade to get the rest house vacated with the use of force. The eviction resulted in high-decibel allegations of injustice, accompanied by dharnas and road blockades by the legislator and his supporters. His loyalists lamented overzealously: ‘Look at this honest man. He does not even have a house. This is the reward of his honesty!’

Recently, there were reports that a DC, who was using the Irrigation Department’s rest house as his residence, had allegedly allowed a private party to encroach upon more than two kanals of land adjacent to the place. He also reportedly got an old wall demolished to facilitate encroachment and got a new boundary wall illegally constructed. However, the principal secretary of the department decided to set the matter right. He paid a visit to the site and gauged the situation. Thanks to his intervention, the possession of the property was restored. It was not common to witness a senior officer taking the bull by the horns.

About three decades ago, it was the talk of the town in a certain district that the DC had managed to get an encroachment removed on a part of his palatial government residence. In the early 1960s, that part had been encroached upon by an influential lawyer, who had his house in the neighbourhood. It had been a thorn in the flesh of successive deputy commissioners. Adding insult to injury, the lawyer would often abuse the officers at night in an inebriated condition. It was also said that one DC got himself transferred out of the district due to this harassment. The custodians of government land helplessly endured misery and insult.

The new DC was also subjected to the old tricks of abuse and intimidation by the lawyer. Three months after he joined, he called me and said: ‘ADC sahib, we have to get back the land from that lawyer within a week.’ He had thoroughly examined the lie of the land and decided to retrieve it in a simple way. A bulldozer to demolish the wall around the encroachment was requisitioned from the local Army unit. As per the DC’s plans, on a particular afternoon, the illegally built wall was demolished and the government land was recovered. This firm action was roundly applauded across the district.


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