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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

AAP, BJP on same page over unauthorized colonies. But there’s fine print |Opinion

In March this year, just before the Lok Sabha elections, the Centre constituted a committee under the Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal to recommend the process for conferring ownership rights to residents of these colonies.

opinion Updated: Aug 01, 2019 20:41 IST
Risha Chitlangia
Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times
Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal.
Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal.(PTI image)
         

It is an election year and the issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies in Delhi is back in news. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government, for once, are on the same page.

Both the Centre and the state governments are trying to get the process started at the earliest (before the election code of conduct kicks in) to confer ownership rights to residents of 1,797 unauthorised colonies.

In March this year, just before the Lok Sabha elections, the Centre constituted a committee under the Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal to recommend the process for conferring ownership rights to residents of these colonies. Based on the Delhi LG’s report, the Centre has formulated a process for the implementation of the ambitious plan. The Delhi government has agreed to it and also given suggestions to make the process smooth.

This has upped the hopes of people living in these colonies that soon they will be able to get their properties registered with the government, apply for a loan against it and also get their building plans sanctioned/regularised from the civic agencies.

But many are confusing the decision to give ownership right with regularisation of the unauthorised colonies. According to municipal officials, a colony can’t be declared regularised until its layout is prepared and passed by the civic bodies.

While residents will get ownership rights once the plan is implemented, they will not be able to get their building plans sanctioned/regularised from the civic bodies. For this, the Centre and the state government will have to set the norms for preparing the layouts of these colonies. Urban planners say that the layouts of most of the colonies can’t be prepared as per the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 norms. There is a need to relax the development control norms for these colonies.

Until both the governments state the process for regularisation of these colonies, the legal tag will not guarantee protection from action against unauthorised construction.

With nearly four million people living in 1,797 unauthorised colonies (Economic Survey of Delhi 2018-19), it is a crucial vote bank for all political parties. Once considered a Congress stronghold, the unauthorised colonies had played an important role in AAP’s sterling performance in the 2015 assembly election.

While the ruling party has been focusing on infrastructure development work in these colonies to keep its vote bank intact, the BJP is trying to woo the residents of these colonies to end its “21-year-long exile” from power in Delhi.

With both the political dispensations pushing the ambitious plan, it is yet to be seen how much of it will be implemented before the elections code of conduct kicks in.