New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s decision to announce the regularisation of illegal colonies in New Delhi has invited a sharp rebuke from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
On Thursday, while announcing that those living in the 1,797 unauthorised colonies in the national capital will soon receive ownership rights for their properties, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had accused “all central and state governments” of having betrayed residents of these colonies.
Though Kejriwal did strike somewhat of a conciliatory note, thanking the Modi government for the accepting AAP’s 2015 proposal on the issue, he insisted it was his government that began working on regularising colonies “from day one”.
In response, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has written to the Delhi chief minister, accusing him of spreading patent misinformation with regard to the regularisation of unauthorised colonies in the national capital.
“I allowed sufficient time to lapse in the hope that there would be some clarification from your side at the patent misinformation being spread,” reads Puri’s letter dated 19 July. “Since that is not forthcoming, I will put on record the facts as they are. It also appears to be a concerted smear campaign unleashed to divert attention from the real issues and mislead the citizens of Delhi.”
The letter, accessed by ThePrint, goes on to add that the Modi government has always been “empathetic to the cause of the people living in these unauthorised colonies”. It claims that it was the BJP-led government at the Centre that extended the cut-off date for regularisation from 1 April, 2014, to 1 January, 2015.
Puri claims that rather than working to quicken the process, the Delhi government had delayed the regularisation process. His letter mentions that despite repeated reminders and reviews sent by the Centre, the Kejriwal government failed to create a separate cell to finalise the boundaries of each identified colony. “As per regulations, the Delhi government has to play the lead role in identifying and carrying out the process related to regularisation,” the letter adds.
Despite repeated attempts to reach Nagendar Sharma, the AAP media advisor, he was not available for comment. This copy will be updated if and when he comments.
Delay on the part of Delhi government: Puri
Puri’s letter claims that at a number of stages, the Delhi government delayed the process. It states what while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue, the Delhi High Court had asked the AAP government to furnish details related to these unauthorised colonies.
As per Puri’s allegations, the AAP-led government repeatedly informed the court that it would take a minimum of two years, between 1 August, 2017 and 31 July, 2019, to collect and submit this information as a proper survey was required.
The Union minister has further alleged that in a meeting on 21 October, 2018, a Delhi government official said that the survey, which was initiated by then, had to be stopped in March 2018 as deficiencies were found in the survey report by the agency carrying it out and hence its contract was terminated.
Puri claimed that the AAP government informed the Centre that the survey would be completed by July 2019, which the latter then conveyed to the high court through an affidavit.
Puri letter, however, states that again on 29 January, 2019, the Kejriwal government told the Centre that the survey would take another two years. “This means that government of Delhi had been delaying the report continuously and it may extend to July 2021,” stated the minister adding that these facts were on record and were being conveniently suppressed from the public.
Among other things, Puri towards the end of the letter requested Kejriwal to advise his colleagues not to spread misinformation on the subject and instead concentrate on completing the survey and getting work done.