Hardeep Singh Puri
File photo of Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has excluded affluent neighbourhoods and those built on forest land from its decision to regularise some of Delhi’s unauthorised colonies.

Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Puri introduced the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019, in Lok Sabha Tuesday, granting ownership rights to those living in unauthorised colonies in Delhi. The bill, however, has excluded 69 of the affluent colonies.

The decision to leave out these colonies had been taken in a Union Cabinet meeting on 29 October. The colonies include Sainik Farms, Freedom Fighters Enclave, Neb Sarai Extension area, Chattarpur Enclave, Shanti Kunj, Mahendru Enclave, Sultan Apartment and Anant Ram Dairy, among others.

With the bill in Parliament and assembly elections in Delhi scheduled for early next year, there is no clarity on the fate of the affluent colonies.

Puri told ThePrint that the Modi government was first prioritising colonies of low socio-economic groups before addressing the affluent ones. “The rationale for inclusion and non- inclusion is the socio-economic conditions of the residents of these unauthorised colonies and ground realities to facilitate development or redevelopment to improve existing infrastructure, civic and social amenities which will lead to better quality of life,” he said.

DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor told ThePrint that he believes that the regularisation of the affluent colonies will be delayed till after the assembly elections. “The 69 colonies belonging to affluent people have not be registered so far. We are waiting for the government to get back to us,” he said.

Kapoor added that the if the affluent colonies were legalised, residents will have to pay a higher regularisation fee. A senior DDA official, however, said the colonies on forest land will not be regularised.

ThePrint reached out to AAP officials to comment on their efforts on this front, but they didn’t respond. The report will be updated as and when they do.

Also read: In poll-bound Delhi, AAP and BJP face-off over quality of water 

Regularisation ahead of elections

The regularisation of unauthorised colonies is expected to be a major poll plank in the national capital. As such, it has sparked a credit war between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP, which is in power at the Centre.

Their regularisation has been a key promise in the manifestos of both the AAP and the BJP in various elections. Just last week, AAP MPs in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha protested in Parliament against what they termed was the government’s delay in introducing the bill for legalising the colonies.

According to Puri, the Modi government will ensure the registration of 1,731 of the 1,797 unauthorised colonies, a move that is expected to benefit nearly 50 lakh residents. The minister had said last week residents can start applying for ownership rights from 16 December and would receive ownership certificates within 180 days of applying.

The decision is expected to benefit a number of migrant workers who are seen as the key voter base of the ruling AAP.

Both the BJP at the Centre and the AAP government in Delhi have been keen on regularising the colonies. Even in 2013, the urban development ministry sought to get an in-principle approval from the Union cabinet to regularise these colonies and decide on the regularisation charges after consulting the Delhi government and civic bodies.

In June this year, a committee chaired by Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal submitted its recommendations for conferring ownership and transfer rights to unauthorised colonies to the ministry. Following this, the Cabinet note was circulated among stakeholders, including the Delhi government.

Also read: Why the new Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t badmouth anyone, only talks of AAP’s successes 


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