They were meant to be homes for the not-so-affluent. But EWS (economically weaker section) flats in Gurgaon are increasingly falling prey to rampant commercialisation.
Many owners have opened their doors to liquor vends, property dealers’ offices, beauty parlours and cell phone towers. In addition to putting additional burden on the civic infrastructure, the owners of such properties also violate construction and zonal norms set by civic authorities.
Government’s enforcement agencies and developers have failed to check the menace.
Worse affected are privately developed colonies that, in keeping with the town and country planning norms, have to allocate at least 10 per cent of the plotted area of their township to sell as EWS plots.
DLF City, Sushant Lok, Palam Vihar, Southcity and colonies in Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) sectors are examples.
The 60-sq-yard EWS flats essentially cater to people with a monthly family income of less than Rs 1,500-3,300. The owners, however, earn monthly rentals amounting to anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 40,000 as residences are expanded in blatant violation of construction norms.
B.K. Saini, the district town planner (enforcement) admitted there was a problem. His department, he claimed, had issued notices to the guilty for violating the Control Area Act. “It is a hide and seek game,” he said.
“We have issued notices to about 500 owners of EWS houses. But such people move court and get stay orders and restrain us from action. We have the sealing powers which we would use at the appropriate time."
J.C. Kapoor, the president of the Residents Welfare Association 'U' Block, DLF Phase III said that a liquor vend had been operating in an EWS house in his locality since 2008. Repeated complaints to the excise department and other authorities, he said, had yielded no results.
"Apart from the liquor vend that fetches its owner a monthly rental of Rs 40,000, a number of restaurants, property dealers' offices and other shops have opened up in EWS houses," Kapoor said. "The owners earn between Rs 10,000 and 30,000 every month. We have about six cellular towers in our locality alone and each towers earns the EWS house owner about Rs 20-25,000 a month as rental,"
H.B. Sharma, the deputy excise and taxation commissioner, said he was not aware of a liquor vend being run from an EWS house in U Block in DLF City (Phase III).
"I will get it verified and if it is found operating from an EWS house it’ll be shut down," he assured.
R.G. Vaish, another DLF City resident, expressed his concern about the rising number of cell phone towers.
When questioned, government enforcement agencies and developers pass the buck.
"The town and country planning department says it was the responsibility of the developers in whose area the EWS houses are constructed to check commercialisation,” said R.S. Rathee, former president of DLF Qutub Enclave RWA.
"The developers wash their hands off saying they cannot do it for the want of enforcement or regulatory powers.”