Chandigarh bears burden of 395 illegal colonies on its periphery
Punjab survey: 395 unauthorised colonies have mushroomed in Mohali, Kharar, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Nayagaon; in absence of amenities, residents rush to Chandigarh for basic needs.punjab Updated: May 20, 2018 11:08 IST
The growth of illegal colonies around Chandigarh has put a question mark on the city’s sustainability. According to a recent survey of the Punjab government, which preceded formulation of a policy for regularisation of unauthorised colonies, out of 8,000 illegal colonies in the state, 395 are on Chandigarh’s periphery, including Kharar, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Nayagaon.
Unplanned and devoid of requisite government approvals, such as environment clearances, these colonies — that house lakhs of people — lack basic amenities and infrastructure and are marked by haphazard growth.
Most illegal colonies have mushroomed in violation of the Punjab New Capital Periphery Control Act 1952, which designates a belt of 16km around Chandigarh as controlled area.
“There are already restrictions under the periphery act but state governments failed in its effective implementation. Illegal colonies on the periphery prove that,” said UT chief architect Kapil Setia.
Illegal colonies are not equipped to handle basic social, educational, health and recreational needs of residents, and so the burden passes on to the mother city, Chandigarh, said Setia.
SD Sharma, who was architect of Chandigarh Project from 1963 to 1973, said the city’s infrastructure capacity wasn’t planned keeping in mind the future mushrooming of illegal colonies on its periphery.
“Now, residents of these colonies have to rush to Chandigarh for even meeting their basic needs. Such a scenario is not sustainable, both socially and ecologically,” he said.
Who is to blame?
At the time of state reorganisation, in 1966, only 3% of the controlled area came under Chandigarh, 23% went with Haryana and 74% fell under Punjab control, said Jit Kumar Gupta, former director, College of Architecture, Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal.
As most of the peripheral areas came under Punjab’s jurisdiction, “it was Punjab government’s responsibility to preserve it. But, it failed to do so, and instead, regularised these colonies,” said Surinder Bahga, architect, Saakaar Foundation.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh authorities express helplessness.
“We have repeatedly requested the state governments to go for coordinated planned development but that hasn’t happened,” said Setia.
Authorities turned blind eye
First, the authorities turn a blind eye to illegal development around villages on the city’s periphery. “Then on the pretext of providing civic amenities to residents, a new municipal area is formulated or limits of the existing municipalities are extended, leading to creation of vicious cycle of unauthorised urbanisation,” said MS Aujla, former director, town planning, Punjab local government department.
By repeatedly bringing regularisation policies, an impetus is given to illegal urban expansion, he said, adding that not even a single violator has been identified or action taken by the committees constituted for the purpose.
“Rather, now the violations taken place till March 19, 2018 have been covered under the policy,” said Aujla.
In order to check future expansion of illegal colonies, Punjab local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said: “Exact inventory and mapping of illegal colonies must be done.”
“Only resident welfare associations should be encouraged to legalise unauthorised colonies and not the colonisers, who created the mess,” he said.
Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, housing and urban development minister, Punjab, said: “The state government is committed to end the menace of illegal colonies once and for all. We are looking to bring in law to put a stop to growth of illegal colonies.” When questioned on laws being there but their effective implementation lacking, he said: “We will bring more effective and stringent laws.”