Delhi Elections in Mind, Centre Passes Proposal to Grant Ownership Rights to Unauthorised Colony Residents

File photo of Hardeep Singh Puri. (PTI Photo/Subhav Shukla)

File photo of Hardeep Singh Puri. (PTI Photo/Subhav Shukla)

The move to legalise unauthorised illegal colonies comes ahead of the Assembly polls in the national capital, scheduled for early next year.

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New Delhi: Ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls next year, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to grant ownership rights to the people living in unauthorised colonies in the city, a move that will benefit 40 to 50 lakh people.

Making the announcement, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre will move swiftly to execute the decision and bring a bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 18 to this effect. He also slammed the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government, accusing it of trying to "delay" the decision to grant people from low-income groups ownership rights.

Puri said the city government had sought time till 2021 to give the inputs sought from it for taking the decision and added that the Narendra Modi-led government decided to "take the initiative when it became clear that the Delhi government will do nothing".

The decision is politically significant as it will benefit millions of poor migrants who hold key to the assembly election results and had backed the AAP in large numbers in the 2015 assembly polls.

The Delhi Assembly elections are due early next year.

War of words

The Cabinet approval started a war of words between the ruling AAP and the opposition BJP, with the former accusing the saffron party of delaying the decision and asking if the decision was taken now considering the upcoming Assembly elections.

"Why now, just before the Assembly elections? Why did the BJP delay the process for four years when we wanted to complete it at the earliest? The BJP should stop drama and complete the rest of the process at the earliest," said AAP leader Sanjay Singh.

Singh requested the Centre to not waste any more time in mapping the colonies and not get caught up in any other issue.

"We have done the mapping. I request the Centre to use that. I hope the BJP would not create any more hurdles in regularising these colonies. We promise the day the Centre completes the process we would get the registry done within 24 hours," he said.

Attacking the Congress and the AAP, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the two parties took no concrete steps to give any relief to the residents of these colonies.

"Now the DDA will complete all the formalities. This Diwali, (we) will give ownership rights to lakhs of people. The truth is, this is possible only because of Modi ('Modi hain toh mumkin hain')," Javadekar said.

Senior BJP leader Vijay Goel said the government has given the "biggest gift" to the people of Delhi on the occasion of Diwali.

"Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had been creating obstacles in regularisation of unauthorised colonies. The Centre will now do everything through the DDA. The Delhi government will have no role to play in it," he said.

Welcoming the decision, Kejriwal said the road map for it was based on a proposal sent by the Delhi government in July and that the Centre should start the process immediately.

"The Union Cabinet has prepared road map based on our proposal sent in July. We want the central government to start the process immediately. There should be no further delay," he said.

Protracted process

As per the existing regulations of 2008, the process of regularisation was to be coordinated and supervised by the Delhi government.

"Delineation of boundary of unauthorised colonies is the starting point of the process as per regulations. However, the Delhi government could not delineate the boundaries of these colonies even after 11 years of issuance of the regulations and has sought more time up to 2021 to complete this exercise," an official statement said.

The decision "is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies" spread over 175 sq km that are inhabited by people from lower income groups, he said.

While Javadekar said the number of beneficiaries is 40 lakh, Puri said the figure nears the 50 lakh figure. It does not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anantram Dairy, Puri noted.

According to the statement, the proposed bill is aimed at recognising general power of attorney (GPA), will, agreement to sell, purchase and possession documents, which will be a one-time relaxation for this purpose for the residents of these colonies.

The bill will also provide for registration charge and stamp duty on last transaction and also address the issue of income tax liability on account of less than circle rate charges.

The minister said people living in these colones have neither invested in safe structures nor could the government create any social infrastructure on account of these colonies having developed without approved Layout Plan (LOP).

In the absence of basic amenities, the residents of these colonies are living in uninhabitable conditions. Though the Master Plan Delhi-2021 allows for redevelopment of colonies with 50% additional floor area ratio (FAR) as an incentive, no redevelopment has taken place so far as the residents do not have ownership rights the statement said.

In July, the Delhi government had proposed a set of parameters to regularise the 1,797 colonies, which include charging one per cent cost of circle rate of land for up to 200 square metre plot from occupants besides a nominal penalty.

The rights will be conferred on payment of nominal charge based on carpet area/plot size. For colonies on government land, the charge will be 0.5% (for less than 100 sq m), 1% (for 100-250 sqm) and 2.5% (for greater than 250 sqm), of the circle rate of highest category of locality of the residential area surrounding the unauthorised colony.

For colonies on private land, the charge will be half of the charge on government land, the minister explained.

(With inputs from agencies)

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