People in unauthorised colonies in Delhi will not have to live under lurking fear of sealing and demolition of their houses and shops as Parliament on Wednesday passed a Bill for maintaining a status quo in regard to these areas up to December 2014.
After a brief debate, the Rajya Sabha passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Bill. The Lok Sabha has already passed it.
Winding up the debate, urban development minister Kamal Nath said the government needs three years to come up with a comprehensive plan for development of the National Capital. Till that time, people living in the unauthorised colonies and village settlements should not fear from demolitions.
"People live under fear all the time as to when monitoring teams or demolition squads will come...There are absurdities in our Master Plan which we have today...In next three years we will see a clear, realistic Plan," he said.
One lakh housing units will be constructed by the Delhi Development Authority for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). When asked about the cost of these houses, the Minister said they would be given at "affordable prices."
Status quo will be maintained up to 2014-end with regard to unauthorised colonies including village abadis (settlements) and their extensions, storages, warehouses and godowns for farm produce etc.
Commercial establishments operating illegally in farm houses and other places in nearly 400 rural areas and urbanised villages are expected to get a reprieve.
The Bill was enacted in 2008 after demolitions started in unauthorised commercial and residential areas at the instance of the Supreme Court. It was extended year after year since then.
Nath said while urbanisation of Delhi is a major challenge, the city's Master Plan was "antique" as it did not take into account the realities at the ground level.
Revision of the Master Plan 2020 has already started and the review will take into account the realistic aspects like floor area ratio (FAR) and floor space index (FSI).
With increase in FSI and FAR, the height of the buildings can be raised, he said.
Nath said there are traditional areas like Karol Bagh and Gaffar Market.
"Can we say these should be demolished," he asked, adding instead these areas should be re-developed.
The minister said there are absurd terminologies in the Master Plan -- 'urban village' which is neither a village nor urban, 'farm house' which is neither a farm nor a house.
"These are absurdities in our Master Plan," he said.
Nath said he has set up an apex committee in his ministry for revision of the Master Plan to address these issues.
Besides "we are trying to develop skills in areas like land economics," he said adding new methods will have to be found for financing urban projects which could be under public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
On concerns by members that Yamuna was highly polluted, he said the Delhi government and the ministry of environment and forest are working on a model, of which the Delhites will be proud.
Earlier participating in the debate, Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP), who is also an eminent lawyer said, "Please take the initiative back in your hand. Delhi has become a mess because of the Court's intervention."
He also demanded that the Yamuna should be cleaned and its lost glory restored.
Participating in the debate Vasanthi Stanley (DMK) drew Nath's attention towards leaking roofs in MP Flats at North Avenue and South Avenue while Syed Azeez Pasha (CPI) said the condition of Batla House was miserable.
Others who participated in the debate included Ram Kripal Yadav (RJD), Kishore Kumar Mohanty (BJD), Sudarshan Natchiappan (Cong), SP Singh Baghel (BSP), N K Singh (JD-U), Prasanta Chatterjee (CPI-M) and S S Ahluwalia (BJP).