Encroachments being removed by the Municipal Corporation near the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Amritsar, Punjab: The civic authorities removed the encroachments on both sides of the road leading to the Golden Temple from Fountain Chowk to Shani Temple here yesterday. The corporation authorities were accompanied by a large posse of policemen to avoid any resistance from the encroachers who had made small shops and kiosks on footpaths. The authorities also brought down the temporary and permanent sheds erected by shopkeepers.
As soon as the civic authorities’ brigade, accompanied by the police, arrived on the scene to remove the encroachments, the rehriwalas and kiosk owners tried to resist the move of the corporation. However, they had to relent in view of the presence of a large number of policemen.
D.P.S. Kharbanda, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, said the step was taken to widen the roads leading to the holy shrine, visited by thousands of devotees and tourists from all over the world. He said the tourists were finding it difficult to walk on the pavements due to encroachments by vendors.
He said their main aim was to make the walled city as zero encroachment area under the beautification plan. He said coloured tiles would be laid on both sides of the pavements up to the Golden Temple.
Meanwhile, Dilmegh Singh, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), while lauding the step taken by the civic authorities, said the encroachments were causing great hardships to the devotees in particular and public in general. He said the administration should have done it long before while adding that still the removal of encroachments was a welcome step. He said the shopkeepers should not encroach upon the footpaths, thus inviting the wrath of the officials.
Although, social activists who have been crying hoarse for removing encroachments in various parts of the holy city that lead to frequent traffic chaos, especially in and near the walled city, appreciated the move of the corporation, but they were critical about the pick and choose method followed by the administration. They said the authorities should come up with a proper plan to remove encroachments not only on the pavements, but also on roads and government lands as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Meanwhile, the Congress condemned the demolition of shops and kiosks outside the Golden Temple saying that the owners should have been given enough time to remove their valuables. The Congress MLA, O.P. Soni, along with other party leaders visited the site and said the government should compensate them for loss of their valuables and rehabilitate them at the suitable site as the government had no right to displace them without giving them proper opportunity to set up their shops elsewhere.
Kahan Singh Pannu, Deputy Commissioner, said the encroachments were removed as per the orders of the High Court and added that the shopkeepers at Chowk Ghanta Ghar Market had also been warned to remove their items till June 30. He appealed to the people to extend their cooperation to clean the city and make it free from encroachments.