Centre constitutes panel to confer ownership rights in illegal colonies in Delhi
The Union Cabinet on Thursday constituted a 10-member committee under Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal to recommend the process of granting ownership and transfer rights to residents in 1,797 unauthorised colonies that are home to nearly a third of the Capital’s population.
Announcing the decision, Union housing and urban affairs minister of state Hardeep Singh Puri said the committee will submit its report to the ministry within 90 days.
“Nearly 30% of Delhi’s population lives in these colonies. We have made several efforts to get the Delhi government moving on the regularisation issue. But they have been delaying the process,” said Puri. “The committee under the LG will suggest the approach and modalities for conferring the ownership rights to people.”
The Union cabinet’s decision comes at a time when the announcement of dates for the Lok Sabha elections, which will entail the enforcement of the model code of conduct, is expected soon.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the move ‘pure politics’. “The thought of unauthorised colonies has struck the BJP today? Mr Modi had promised the move before the 2014 elections? Why did Mr Modi not do this in the last five years? For the past 20 years, the BJP and Congress have been cheating the people over this issue. They make this promise every time and then forget about it after elections,” Kejriwal said.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) main votebank lies in the unauthorised colonies, which it wrested from the Congress in the 2015 Assembly elections. The party had won almost all constituencies which have a major concentration of illegal colonies. The Bharatiya Janata Party has already launched campaigns to win over support from these areas with the party’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari spending a night with citizens in slums.
A senior ministry official said, Thursday’s decision will help hundreds of thousands of residents in property transactions. Currently, all property transactions are done on General Power of Attorney (GPA) and the properties can’t be registered with the Delhi government. “Some states have given ownership rights to the residents living in unauthorised areas. This has resulted in various economic opportunities for redevelopment of such areas,” said a ministry official.
Another official pointed out that this is just a step in the regularisation process. “The ministry will have to pursue the matter related to fixing of boundaries with the Delhi government. The regularisation process, which includes demarcating the boundaries of the colonies, making provision for parks, hospitals, schools and other social infrastructure, will go on parallelly,” the second official said.
The mandate of the committee, a third official said, is to suggest measures and methodology to recognise the ownership/transfer rights. “It will also recommend measures to be taken in urban planning norms to trigger redevelopment for improving living conditions in these colonies. It will also suggest the roles and responsibilities of various agencies involved in the process.”
Puri said that the Delhi government has not yet finalised the agencies to start the mapping work for the colonies.
A Delhi government official said, the government has decided to get the survey for fixing the boundaries done using drones. “In the past, we have tried to get the survey done thrice. But all the processes have proved to be futile. The urban development department has roped in two companies to do the survey, but they were removed as they didn’t do much work in the stipulated time frame. We have decided to get a survey done using drones.”
Apart from the L-G, the committee will consist of DDA vice-chairperson, additional secretary of the ministry of housing & urban affairs, Delhi chief secretary, commissioners of east, north and south Delhi municipal corporations, Prof PSN Rao, who is chairperson of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Prof Sanjay Gupta from the School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Jagan Shah from National Institute of Urban Affairs, GC Mishra who is director, Delhi Fire Services, and DDA principal commissioner.
Residents of some unauthorised colonies have, however, kept their expectations low. “Considering that the elections are near, this does not come as a surprise,” said Shiv Kumar, 62, a resident of an unauthorised colony in Delhi’s Sagarpur area.
Regularisation of unauthorised colonies has been part of the election manifesto of all political parties since 2008. “Unauthorised colonies have been a political issue for every party over the past many years. But nothing has changed. How can one afford to have high hopes now?” he said.
“For us, any promise about unauthorised colonies have never taken shape beyond newspapers,” said Motilal Baitha (45), resident of an unauthorised colony in Delhi’s Durga Park area. “There is no hope. We will read about more plans and changes in the law but nothing will happen once the elections get over.”
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- In terms of overall vote share, the AAP got 46.1% of the total votes cast. The Congress and the BJP got 27.29% and 21.84% respectively, according to election commission data.
- To be sure, Mr Hashim admits he has good feelings for a few other dishes, too.