Mysore, Nov. 3 (BRS)- Roads, footpaths and parks encroached upon by constructing unauthorised structures of worship by different faiths in the city should be vacated within a week, Deputy Commissioner Harsha Gupta has ordered the parties concerned.

The DC had called a meeting of religious leaders related to the structures of their respective faiths to discuss the issue in his Office yesterday. Notice has already been issued to concerned parties after identifying 210 unauthorised structures encroaching roads, footpaths and parks in the city. The issue relating to 25 unauthorised structures that are places of worship coming in the jurisdiction of Zones 1 & 2 of Mysore City Corporation (MCC) was taken up for discussion in the meeting yesterday.

Many of the religious leaders who attended the meeting gave an assurance to vacate the encroached public spaces voluntarily, responding to their request that they would arrange to vacate the encroachment of the original built space after it is identified, City Corporation Commissioner K.S. Raiker answered in the affirmative. While many in the meeting argued that some structures which are places of worship are private property and therefore they do not come under the category of encroachment, Harsha Gupta explained that if valid records are produced relating to those places constructed on private spaces, they need not be vacated. However, structures that are constructed as places of worship unauthorisidely and not supported by valid documents will have to be vacated, he averred.

Banyan trees on public spaces will not be removed. But, idols and structures in the form of places of worship at the base of the trees will have to be vacated, Police Commissioner Sunil Agarwal informed in the meeting.

The Supreme Court has issued orders on Dec. 7, 2009, that unauthorised structures at places of worship encroaching roads, footpaths and parks must be vacated before Dec. 31 and report submitted. Accordingly, measures, are being taken to vacate such encroachments. No decision is taken on vacating encroachments of other Government property by constructing unauthorised structures. However, these encroachments will also be vacated, Harsh Gupta clarified.

When it was pointed out that notice had not been served by MCC while a place of worship which had encroached its property was demolished recently, the DC clarified that the discussion was only about vacating encroachments of public spaces. He sought information on any such public space encroached and notice not served. He advised the speaker Prem Kumar not to stray into other uncalled for matters and distract the meeting from the main issue.

Prem Kumar remarked that MCC had constructed toilets on footpaths and sought to know that if toilets can be constructed why not places of worship. That irked the DC who once again reminded that the meeting's agenda was only about encroachment of roads, footpaths and parks by unauthorisedly constructing structures as places of worship and that no other matter should be raised. Dalit Abhivruddhi Sangha President Y. Venkatesh informed the meeting that the Sri Rama Mandir on the road behind Sarvajanika Hostel in Vidyaranyapuram was constructed by MCC only for the Civic Workers and pleaded for construction of Sri Rama Mandir after demolishing the Mandir in the middle of the road in the locality. K.S. Raiker, informed that the request would be examined.

Speaking at the end, Harsha Gupta requested the religious leaders to vacate the encroachments on their own within a week. Further, if the encroachments are not vacated, the official machinery will take necessary steps of vacating, he cautioned. He also pleaded with them not to give a chance for the official machinery to be forced to carry out the action.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore