Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) has delayed legal action against colonisers of around 700 unauthorised colonies under its jurisdiction, even as their inhabitants continue to suffer the absence of basic amenities.
These colonisers enjoy the patronage and support of political leaders, and in turn make a profit even when there’s a dip in the real estate business by selling 50-yard plots in unauthorised colonies to the poor in instalments.
“In absence of basic amenities such as water supply, sewerage, roads, streetlights and sanitation, inhabitants of these colonies face sheer harassment. What was the government doing when these colonies were being constructed? A fresh survey should be conducted and legal action taken against the colonisers,” said Satish Thaman, a member of Ludhiana West grievances redressal committee.
When contacted, GLADA estate officer Ram Singh refused to comment on the issue.
In a survey conducted by GLADA, 1,791 unauthorised colonies were identified till 2012, the list for which is available on the GLADA website.
According to sources, hundreds of additional unauthorised colonies have mushroomed in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of GLADA, including Ludhiana, Moga, Ferozepur, Phillaur and Nawanshahr, that have mostly gone unchecked by authorities.
As per information obtained from concerned authorities, in this case GLADA, there are 636 such cases in Ludhiana alone, and these have been forwarded to police for lodging FIRs since 1995 when the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995 came into being. But the police has managed to register only 414 FIRs against unauthorised colonies in a little over two decades.
In 2013, the state government had introduced a policy for the regularisation of unauthorised colonies and plots constructed before April 1, 2013. The deadline for this was extended up to February 2016.
During this period, colonisers of only 1,158 unauthorised colonies (including 845 unauthorised colonies in Ludhiana) had applied for regularisation, out of which GLADA approved only 31 colonies (including 26 from Ludhiana), while 401 cases were pending. Besides, applications for 698 unauthorised colonies were rejected.
According to a GLADA source, in 2016, the development body took action in the form of demolition drives against around 60 unauthorised colonies constructed after 2013 in Ludhiana district, but no legal action was taken in majority of the cases.
Amarjit Singh, an assistant engineer with GLADA, said complaints against colonisers of 15 unauthorised colonies were forwarded to the police in 2016. On being asked about the status of FIRs against remaining colonisers, he said the field staff had failed to put forward the cases of the same.
Ajay Sood, additional chief administrator, GLADA, said they were in the process of taking action against colonisers of unauthorized colonies, while FIRs were also being lodged against them. He said some complaints had also been filed in court.