The Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Friday made a significant amendment in the Punjab Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2013, annulling a rider that was barring the state authorities from regularising illegal colonies as well as those facing legal cases and FIRs related to land disputes.
"It has been observed that FIRs have been lodged against one-fourth of the total unauthorised colonies (in the state) and, thus, the purpose of improving the living conditions of residents of such colonies and of colonies whose cases are pending in any court of law shall not be fulfilled," the statement of objections and reasons for the said amendment explained.
The ordinances to compound offences of all unauthorised colonies, even where FIRs are lodged or cases are pending in court, had already been given the nod by the council of ministers and the same was needed to be enacted as an amendment in the existing legislation, the statement said.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the housing and urban development minister, said during the discussion on the amendment bill that this was being done to facilitate poor dwellers residing in such colonies.
The opposition Congress termed the state government's act of collecting fees to regularise colonies/buildings from colonisers as well as those residing in such houses as unjustifiable.
Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring (both from the Congress) demanded stern action against officials responsible for allowing mushrooming of illegal colonies.
Jakhar also demanded exemption for poor, ignorant buyers from such penalties to get their small dwellings regularised.
The deputy CM stated that Rs. 1.5 lakh of the total 2.5 lakh families residing in illegal colonies/houses had applied for regularisation so far.
Some members from the ruling benches joined the Opposition in demanding withdrawal of the announcement of lodging FIRs against those not applying for regularisation.
"There are many poor, ignorant people who had purchased houses to live in from colonisers without knowing that the colony was unauthorisedly carved out, said Jakhar.
CM chairman, dy CM co-chairman
An amendment was made in the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, inserting the provision of appointing the state's deputy chief minister as the co-chairman of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), with the chief minister already its chairman, as per the legislation.
The House passed the Punjab State Cancer and Drug Addiction Treatment Infrastructure Fund (Amendment) Bill, increasing the limit of the fund corpus from Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 15 crore.