Reasons for the Illegal Construction and What the Government Official Can Do to Avoid Them?

Kishan Thakkar K

After the demolition of structures in Jahangirpuri, Delhi in mid-April 2022, the Supreme Court’s ‘status quo’ order halting further demolitions, and the resulting political circus, illegal construction became a national issue. 

A large amount of attention was given to the issue by the electronic and written media, with both sides arguing both for and against the municipal action. Despite being sub judice, the case will undergo intense scrutiny in the Supreme Court, and an order issued by the apex court will finally resolve it judicially.

In this article, we will attempt to put urban illegal construction in a broader context. Throughout the country, municipal statutes govern illegal construction more or less similarly. There have also been a number of judgments on this question handed down by several high courts and the Supreme Court. A very large number of cases across India have been ordered demolished due to illegal constructions in cities. It is unfortunate that illegal constructions in cities have not stopped proliferating. 

Several factors contribute to their continued growth. Cities are complicated, and the problem goes hand in hand with all the growing complexities they bring with them.

The electronic and written media took a unique interest in the matter, either supporting or opposing municipal action.

How is illegal construction in India faring?

Constructions that are illegal in cities are numerous. The expansion of cities results in an increase in construction, and a significant proportion of those constructions are illegal. 

However, despite the high number of violations, most of them can be grouped into two basic types: illegal constructions on public lands and illegal constructions on private lands.

Illegal Construction on Public Land

Municipal commissioners have summary powers to evict transgressors and demolish their structures without warning on public lands, especially on roads and footpaths (defined in municipal laws as part of roads). 

Illegal Construction on Private Land

The service of a notice and due process are required, however, in the case of illegal construction on private properties. By the municipal laws, people who encroach on public property or extend their private structures into public spaces are treated as outright encroachers and subject to summary evictions without past notice. 

As the scenario unfolds, it becomes more complex by the economic profile of the encroachment and by the support that the intruder enjoys at his disposal, which enables him to get away.

Why Illegal Construction? 

As a starting point, let’s examine the poor. Many of them are migrants seeking livelihoods and survival elsewhere. The men and women in this situation cannot afford to buy land and construct a house, or to buy a flat built by an authorised developer.

Despite the fact that migrants can’t legally get home, they are an important part of the city’s economy. Labour is vital to the survival of cities.

“There is a general acceptance of migrants by citizens because of the cheap labour they provide and by the political class because of their votes.”

Some people see opportunities whenever such circumstances arise. Councillors are mostly willing to find space for the poor in slums that eventually grow into slums, despite laws preventing the poor from living in the city. Illegal settlements may lack civic services at first, but over time they acquire infrastructure such as water, electricity, street lights, and others. 

The constructions are classified as illegal, but a whole process of regularization begins and complicates what constitutes illegal construction.

A large number of these migrants look for jobs in the informal sector or start their own small businesses in search of a living. They are most visible in the form of street vendors. 

Due to the lack of planning for such activities in land use plans, vending activities spill onto streets, outside railway stations, bus stands, and other areas where there are ready buyers. There is a great deal of inconvenience caused to pedestrians as well as the city’s mobility because of them. Despite being encroachers under urban planning laws, they are temporarily regularized under the Street Vendors Act. 

Several lower middle classes in Indian cities have constructed small houses for themselves due to high land prices and high density in the cities. Typically, families expand by adding rooms, extending the original building, or enclosing a balcony. 

The planning laws prohibit all such constructions. Although they receive notices from the local body, local arrangements generally allow them to be overlooked. Many rich people do not care about laws. Their unauthorised construction is brazen, and they use political patronage or money to silence any opposition.

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding illegal construction. 

Has the municipal administration the capacity to deal with this issue? In theory, yes; however, as we have seen, the work is extremely complex and large. 

In most municipalities, the municipal administration is not always courageous enough to take on the local actors who are charged with violating the law. We can all see the results.

In Summary

For more insightful and detailed blogs, subscribe to us on The Real Talks and continue reading the latest industry trends. You can also reach out to Roodland India at to get assistance in any service related to the real estate sector.


Subscribe To Our Newsletters

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.


To be updated with all the latest blogs, news and special announcements.