“Illegal Construction Is Major Problem” —Sajjan Singh Yadav, MCD Commissioner
Coming from a humble background, Sajjan Singh Yadav, MCD Commissioner (East), Delhi, studied veterinary science and wrote the civil services with the relevant subjects and made it. He has served as an SDM Mizoram, DM Arunachal Pradesh and also held office for Corporate Affairs GoI. In an interview to Uday India, he talked on various issues. Excerpts:
Working as an MCD Commissioner what are the challenges lying ahead of you?
Encroachment and illegal construction is a major problem. We are tracking such complaints. I personally go about taking routine rounds just to check this menace. People have grown smart these days. They either construct a new structure in a corner of the terrace which is obscured from the public view or they paint the newly constructed part with old paint so as to make it seem an old construction.
Illegal construction has become a common feature in Delhi, particularly when we talk about east Delhi. How do you look at it?
We are open to public views and reviews, we have different other ways that help us stay watchful. We do get online complaints and through the way of SMSs and whenever we have one we in no time take action and redress the issue.
Most residents and visitors to east Delhi do complain of a massive space crunch to park their vehicles. What is being done to curb this problem?
The unified MCD was divided into three parts after which the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) was formed. What we inherited was less than 20 legal parkings across the entire east Delhi which has a population of 17 lakh plus. Naturally, that space was woefully inadequate. In the past few months, we have managed to increase the number to 40 and are hoping to add more.
Not a single multi-level parking lot has come up in the area. Is there any plan in the pipeline?
A few plans were made but never took off. We had earlier planned to make four underground parking lots in Mayur Vihar, Krishna Nagar, Dilshad Garden basement parks. But we were denied permission from the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). We are now exploring the possibility of constructing multi-level parking lots once land is provided to us by the Delhi Development Authority.
Since there are no legal parking lots, parking mafia has turned every vacant piece of land into a parking space and charging at will. Are you taking action?
As and when we get complaints, we forward them to our enforcement team and they conduct regular raids. We are also trying to take over illegal parking lots and convert them into legal ones.
Residential and marketing areas are also facing parking problems. Is a policy being formulated to address parking problems?
A policy should be formulated for residential colonies too as demand for parking space in these societies has been increasing over the years. But one needs to keep in mind that parking needs of residential areas are different from that of commercial areas. Usually, people are unable to distinguish between legal and illegal parking lots. There have been times when vehicles have been stolen but contractors are not held responsible.
There are a lot of parking lots being run illegally, maybe many with the connivance of the local police. What’s your take?
The local police if involved should be taken to task and the erring person should not be let off. Parking crunch is an issue but then why run a parking where there is no allotment of the space, and many are being run under so-called MCD but as a matter of fact they do not have a record with us.
How can this menace of unauthorised parking be curbed?
It’s a matter of grave nature and needs a remedy. This can be sorted only when we sincerely start working for the very cause of society rather than blaming each other.
What are the other problems in Delhi and how do you handle them?
People here in Delhi are well connected. There is no major problem as such. Delhi is all about dropping hefty names. I know the way with such elements.
What do you have in the offing other than what we’ve already talked?
Planting more and more trees in the area is our main focus. Earlier 10,000 trees were planted in the district but this time’s figure is 1 lakh trees plantation. There are already around 1500 parks in east Delhi alone and we have to take care of their maintenance. To add more parking lots and multilevel parking will be a major task ahead.
What would you have chosen the best alternative had you not got through this?
I would have gone for university teaching.
By Syed Wajid Ali