The Congress and the SAD-BJP might be sworn enemies, but both are united in promising the voter that illegal colonies within the municipal corporation limit would be regularised, if elected to power.
Such illegal colonies have mushroomed in the city, allegedly under political patronage. More than 500 of them have sprung up within the last two years alone.
The Congress, incidentally, has been critical of the way colonies had sprung up. It had maintained that the colonies had come up under political patronage of the ruling SAD-BJP combine.
However, it sees little wrong in promising regularisation in its campaign for the civic polls. The SAD-BJP had also promised regularisation in its campaign for the assembly elections, earlier this year.
Most such colonies have been constructed ignoring all mandatory provisions of the local bodies department.
During an investigation, the HT team found that builders were selling plots in illegal colonies by claiming patronage of senior politicians of the ruling alliance. The leaders named include ministers, councilors, local politicians and even SGPC members.
Sources said some Congress leaders had also extended political patronage to illegal colonies. As residents of such illegal colonies are registered as voters in the civic polls, candidates are promising all civic facilities including streetlights, sewerage, water connection and even roads from the funds of the corporation.
District president (Urban) of SAD, Gurcharan Singh Channi, said: "A list of about 300 illegal colonies has already sent for regularisation. It is the duty of the corporation to provide all civic facilities to such colonies, once regularised.
Senior officials of the departments concerned, including the Jalandhar Development Authority (JDA) and the MCJ, said political pressure was bought to bear on them, whenever they have tried to take action against the colonies. They said they were in no position to name anyone.
Outgoing mayor Rakesh Rathour was more forthright. "We tried to take action against unplanned and unauthorized colonies. However, despite my best intentions, I had to bow to political influence."
He also admitted that the mushrooming of illegal colonies in such a high number, (about 500), has adversely affected the Master Plan for the city. The state government had finalized the plan, just last year.
"It was also planned that illegal colonies, in which about 40% of dwelling units are already built, will be exempt from action. However, when the state government hinted at regularisation of illegal colonies, hundreds of more such colonies sprang up within no time."