The Sheila Dikshit Government is expected to announce a number of far-reaching changes in the laws governing land and ownership rights and construction norms at a meeting planned by the party on June 15. This follows a meeting of senior Congress leaders from the rural areas of the Capital recommending to the Delhi Government 10 specific steps for improving the lot of the rural population.

The meeting on Saturday at Talkatora Stadium would be addressed among others by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who is expected to make her Government’s position clear on some of the long-standing demands of the rural leaders of the city. It would take place within hours of a Cabinet meeting that has been called to discuss the issue.

The Cabinet meeting is expected to discuss two major issues. One would be the regularisation of the abadi areas of the extended lal dora (ELD) around the villages. In 2007-08, when Raj Kumar Chauhan was the Urban Development Minister applications had been sought by the Delhi Government for regularising the ELD. About 80 of the nearly 350 villages of Delhi had applied and many of them have since benefited from development works which have been undertaken in these regularised areas.

The Delhi Government is now going to give another opportunity to the remaining villages to apply through their RWAs for regularisation of ELD.

The other major issue pertains to Section 33 of the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954. Party sources insist that this has been a ticklish issue as it pertains to vesting of the agricultural land with the Gram Sabha if it is used by the owner for any purpose other than agriculture. “This was breeding corruption as owners would be threatened with notices which would only be withdrawn following payment of huge amounts to the corrupt staff. The Government wants to ensure that such notices are not issues and rural land owners are not harassed in any way,” said a senior Delhi leader.

These steps being contemplated by the Sheila Government are in line with the recommendations of a meeting of senior Delhi Congress leaders about a fortnight ago which was convened by All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Delhi Birender Singh.

That meeting held at Mr. Singh’s residence was attended by former Delhi Speaker Prem Singh from Ambedkar Nagar, Balram Tanwar from Chhattarpur, Shish Pal from Tughlakabad, MLAs Jaswant Rana and Kanwar Karan Singh, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Naresh Kumar and Delimitation Committee chairperson Chhattar Singh.

It put out a 10-point charter of demands to the Sheila Dikshit Government to improve the lot of the farmers and residents of rural areas as a prelude to ensuring party’s success for the record fourth consecutive term in the Delhi Assembly elections.

The demands from the Government had included regularisation of the abadi (habitation) in the extended lal dora land around the villages; increasing the compensation granted for acquisition of land to the farmers and clearance of all pending cases; repealing sections of the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954 pertaining to selling less than eight acres of land (section 33), use of agricultural land for other purposes (section 81) and grant of ownership rights to farmers in possession of Gram Sabha land.

The Congress leaders had also demanded that land acquired from farmers be returned to them if it is not used for the designated purpose within five years and notification of land acquisition be withdrawn for such lands lying idle for over five years. They also demanded that land for which compensation has not been taken be also returned.

In the recent past, many Congress leaders, such as South Delhi MP Ramesh Kumar, have also raised these issues.

On Tuesday, Dr. Naresh Kumar is also scheduled to take a delegation of farmers to Ms. Dikshit to apprise her about the problems being faced in the villages and seek solutions for them.

Apart from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party has also been campaigning on these issues for the past many years. Its Election Committee chairman and senior politician Ramvir Singh Bidhuri has had frequent meetings with Ms. Dikshit and Delhi Urban Development Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely on the issue. At one such meeting on Monday, he again demanded a repeal of Section 81 of DLRA 1954 to benefit a large number of land owners in the rural areas.

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