Illegal shrines get in the way
delhi: the demolition man may rave and rant but the capital is
in a construction mode. and especially so in the name of politics
and religion. so a tiny stone idol gathers the aura of an "ancient
temple", has a fence put around it by "devotees"
and then it is housed, tiled and "maintained" as a full-fledged
place of worship, right on pavements, along a road or even on
service lanes. from tughlaq road to chandni chowk, from janpath
to vikas marg, from wide roads to bylanes, one cannot miss the
ubiquitous places of worship, be they temple, mosque or mazhar
. take the case of the hanuman temple on tughlaq road. expanded,
tiled and well-stocked, the structure has grown from a small idol
- people claim it has been there since the mughals ruled - to
a full-fledged temple in the last five-six years. cars and scooters
lined up in front are a common sight, the largest crowds being
on tuesday evenings during the rush hour. "this is a proliferating
nuisance. besides being a traffic hazard, it is a drain on our
manpower," said maxwell pereira, joint commissioner of police
(traffic). during his term as union urban development minister,
jagmohan had voiced his intention to raze such structures. the
idea has failed to materialise and the enforcing agencies find
their hands firmly tied. "they are illegal encroachments,"
said v s sharma, mcd additional commissioner (engineering). "but
the issue is a touchy one. demolitions lead to tense situations,
with communal overtones," he said. he did not rule out the
connivance of mcd officials with the encroachers. sources allege
that the agencies are sometimes under political pressure to keep
off such structures. agrees ndmc spokesperson madan thapliyal.
"there is a clear misuse of land and religious sentiments.
but people flock to such places for prayers, leaving us with little
support," he said. all these agencies put the ball back into
the public's court. a change in attitude is a must. this is a
social problem, they say. the traffic police want a policy to
check such illegalities. and while we wait for the "change"
to happen, the agencies are depending on court orders. once a
citizen files a pil against such a structure and wins, the agencies,
armed with the order, carry out demolitions much more easily,
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