Illegally yours

Increasing incidence of lawlessness shows hand of corruption

Published: Sunday 31 March 2002

The Supreme Court has said it all -- Delhi is the best example of lawlessness in the world. "You take water, air and ground pollution as well as encroachments and law and order situation -- tell us if one law is followed in letter and spirit," an exasperated apex court bench asked while hearing an application on non-extension of building by-laws to Laldora (village) areas in the capital. And hit the nail on the head.

What the judges touched upon was the core of the rot in urban governance and illegal action that leads to corruption. We are glad the apex court has deemed it fit to bring up this issue. Violation of laws is so routine today that it has come to be accepted as a necessary evil. With a weak enforcement structure and a lax government, a mushrooming of illegal activities, whether in rampant construction, water usage or civic amenities, is only normal.

Take for instance the 'hafta' extracted by the so-called law keepers of this city. A recent report on rickshaw pullers by Madhu Kishwar of Manushri brought to fore the entire system of bribes. She estimated that the total extortion money in Delhi amounts to Rs 2.5 crore per month. For the poor it's pay and be damned and don't pay and be damned.

Building bylaws is another circus for the authorities. Case after case is coming to fore to show how deep the rot of corruption has set in. How is it that the authorities are unaware of building laws being flouted. It is amazing how they can remain blind to a structure coming up in a public place or extensions being made. The recent Lajpat Nagar market demolition drama, where extensions built by shopkeepers in residential areas were demolished, just reiterates this point. Rules are flouted with blatant connivance of the authorities, money changes hands -- when first the breach of law takes place, then to keep perpetrating it. When matters reach a head, it is the poor homemaker who suffers.

The only way out is to make the illegal legal. In other words, remove the cause for corruption. This is the only way to move from the dark labyrinths of lawlessness into light.

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