After pleasing the residents of the Capital’s unauthorised colonies by regularising their dwellings, the Centre is now keen to appease the gods. On Friday, Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath announced that the government is considering the regularisation of all religious structures in Delhi, which are not fully regularised.
Temples, mosques, gurdwaras and other places of worship that have been built prior to 2007 and are either on land which is unauthorised or partly unauthorised will be given legal sanction. The Minister said a policy is being framed to work out the details of the proposal.
“This is part of our community service. We have to see they [religious structures] have parking space, we will earmark some empty spaces for an allotted parking, we are working on the guidelines for this,” he said.
On the number of such religious structures that will be regularised, Mr. Nath said officials of the Ministry have been asked to make an assessment of all such structures that either do not have a proper title, or the correct land use or are have made encroachments.
“How do you demolish a temple?” he replied to a question on whether the government’s flexibility in granting regularisation to unauthorised constructions is encouraging squatting and encroachment.
On the presence of 1,600 unauthorised colonies across the city, the Minister blamed “faulty” Master Plans and backed the people who have been living in these colonies.
The Minister went all out to offer an explanation on why regularisation of these unauthorised constructions was needed. “We are in principle against demolition. Houses built 20 to 30 years ago can be redeveloped. The evidence of the Master Plan being wrong is the presence of these 1,600 unauthorised colonies; because something was wrong in the execution [of the plan]. Master plans are not meant for files, they have to have complete regard for ground realities.”
While he admitted that the enforcement agencies were negligent in checking the growth of unplanned colonies, the Minister was in no mood for punitive action against the people who call these colonies home. “What do you do to 40 lakh people staying in these colonies? We cannot demolish colonies merely because they stand on land, which on paper is a forest. We have decided that we will find a way to regularise even those colonies that are on land owned by the Forest Department and by the Archaeological Survey of India,” Mr. Nath asserted.
He went on to describe the regularisation as a “practical solution rather than a people-centric one”. “The Government has learnt its lesson, that is why we are revising the Master Plan and making it practical. We should also have better enforcement in future to ensure that the number of illegal colonies does not go beyond 1,600,” he said.
On Monday, the Urban Development Ministry had approved the regularisation of 917 colonies out of the 1,600 plus unauthorised colonies.