• Dispute between Delhi government, highway authority stalls NH-24 widening

    A dispute between the Delhi Government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) over encroachment along NH-24 has stalled widening of the highway.
    While preparatory work has started on the NH-24, the Delhi Government is yet to hand over land to NHAI. The biggest contentious issue is removal of a slum cluster at Patparganj in East Delhi which is necessary for widening of the highway.
    The slum called Nehru Camp houses nearly 1000 shanties. Widening of NH-24 is important for smooth traffic flow between Delhi and Ghaziabad. This stretch of NH-24 from Sarai Kahle Khan to UP Gate is accessed by nearly three lakh vehicles every day. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has recently taken up the matter with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for swift action for removal of encroachment.
    However, sources said the Delhi Government has not shown much keenness given the Aam Aadmi Party’s vote bank in the slums. The Nehru Camp falls in the constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
    Sources said the Delhi Government would get the land vacated only after the NHAI assures adequate compensation to the slum dwellers.
    A senior Transport Ministry official said they are working out the amount of compensation. “Widening of NH-24 will offer a big respite to lakhs of daily commuters between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has spoken to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and the latter has agreed to provide land. We are working out the amount of compensation. A decision will be taken soon,” said the official.
    However, sources said there was also a dispute over paying compensation. Since the land in question belongs to the Public Works Department (PWD), the NHAI wants the Delhi government to compensate the slum dwellers, sources said. According to Delhi Government officials, the slum is situated over PWD land which has to be handed over to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for converting NH-24 into 14-lane road.
    The notice to vacate the land was issued by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in August 24. However, the demolition was stopped by the Delhi Government. Angry slum dwellers alleged that the Delhi government has not offered any alternate location for them. A police team was attacked by the slum dwellers when they were asked remove the encroachment from the roads.
    The AAP government has taken a decision against demolition of slums in Delhi unless a rehabilitation plan is put in place. Immediately after taking oath as Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal had issued a notification prohibiting demolition in Delhi. Carlton Fisk Womens Jersey

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