The union cabinet Monday gave the go-ahead to regularise 1,939 colonies in the poll-bound Capital, a move that will benefit six million people occupying government or private land.
The decision legalises almost all illegal colonies in the Capital, which is expected to go to elections early next year. The BJP-led NDA government’s move is seen as an attempt to woo residents of these largely low-income settlements, many of who are believed to have played a vital role in the Aam Aadmi Party being voted to power in the city in 2013 on its poll debut.
Regularisation decisions have often coincided with elections in the city. In 2004 and 2008, the Congress benefited greatly from such moves. Regularisation puts colonies on civic map, allowing them access to amenities such as regular power and water, roads and playgrounds.
Till now, only those colonises that had come up by March 31, 2002 could be legalised. Monday’s move extends the benefit to the settlements that came up as late as June 2014. “This will benefit some 300 colonies that have come up since 2002,” a government official said.
There was no word on the fate of the colonies that have come up after June.
The government also left out 17 affluent unauthorised colonies such as Sainik Farms and Anant Ram Dairy in south Delhi.
Recently, Parliament gave nod to a legislation that protects from demolition and sealing till 2017 all unauthorised constructions that came up till June 2014.
Urban planners, however, are worried about the impact the “blanket” regularisation, to be notified next week, would have on the Capital’s overburdened infrastructure.
“Unauthorised colonies are an urban reality in India and you cannot wish it away. But do our civic bodies have the requisite resources to beef up civic infrastructure?” noted urban planner AGK Menon said.
The government should ask residents of these colonies for development charges so that tax-paying residents don’t feel cheated, suggested administrators. “Every political party encouraged such colonies. But now that they are there, effective development charge should be levied for providing municipal services. Not doing so will be tantamount to bleeding the honest tax-paying citizen,” Shailja Chandra, former Delhi chief secretary, said.
A majority of these colonies have poor sanitation and the city’s bodies do not have the manpower or the resources for their upkeep. Almost, 30% of the city’s population does not even have access to piped drinking water.
“The civic agencies would have to work on a war footing to come up with a fool-proof plan to upgrade basic amenities,” an official told HT on condition of anonymity.