Will artisans make Ravana effigies after Dusshera, an annoyed Delhi High Court has asked the AAP government and municipal corporations which are yet to identify temporary sites to be allotted to them.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation Deputy Commissioner to appear before it.
The court said it was “absolutely appalling” that the situation was the same even after one year of the pendency of the matter relating to destruction and confiscation of several Ravana effigies by the SDMC for allegedly encroaching upon public land.
“It is absolutely shocking that after one year we are where we were earlier. It is absolutely appalling that despite pendency of this plea for one year, SDMC is not able to frame policy and allot land to artisans for making effigies, idols for Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi. They have procured material for making idols and effigies,” the bench said.
The authorities’ submission that the process of identifying temporary sites and notifying locations is in process did not go well with the bench which questioned them for not doing this work yet.
“When will they make Ravana effigies? After Dusshera? Somebody make Ravana, somebody make idols for Durga Puja. Go and allot them the land,” the court said.
The AAP government had earlier told the court that a draft policy has been framed and approved to provide temporary site to artisans who come to Delhi to make and sell idols or effigies for Durga Puja, Dusshera and other festivals.
The court had earlier asked the government and the municipal corporations concerned to identify temporary sites and to notify locations besides ensuring facilities like water, toilets and electricity at sites identified for artisans.
The policy, framed by the government after holding meetings with the corporations and other civic bodies, lays down modalities for utilising land identified for use by the artisans.
The new guidelines state that artisans have to register with the corporations two months before the start of the work and once a site is allotted it would be for only two months.
After expiry of period of allotment the artisans have to vacate the site.
Under the policy, there is a registration fee of Rs 500 per applicant and usage charges of Rs 5 per square feet per month.
If the number of applicants exceeds the land available, then registrations would be granted on first-come-first-serve basis, the document said and added that the artisans have to ensure there is no pollution of any kind at the site allotted to them.
The court was hearing a PIL initiated on its own after it came across a news report saying that several Ravana effigies, built by artisans who came here from Rajasthan for Dussehra, were destroyed or confiscated by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation for allegedly encroaching on public land.
Last September, it had asked the Delhi government and the corporation to formulate a policy for allocating land to the artisans to do their work.
The court had said the plan would also consider providing temporary housing and sanitary facilities to workers.