BJP MLAs praise Sheila, join hands with BSP to criticise Walia

There was major ruckus in the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday over the issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies with Opposition members from both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party joining ranks to criticise Urban Development Minister A. K. Walia for stopping “development works” in those colonies which prima facie do not comply with the regularisation norms.

It was during a Special Mention that BJP MLA Mohan Singh Bisht raised the issue and demanded that the Government allow the approved construction activity in these colonies.

The issue surprised many as the Delhi BJP has filed cases before the Lokayukta to demand that stern action be taken against those involved in usurping Government land in the garb of non-existent unauthorised colonies.

Mr. Bisht was also all praise for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for listening to the complaints of all MLAs, even if they belonged to the Opposition BJP. In the same breath he criticised Dr. Walia for not listening to the MLAs and directing his department to stop all construction activity in the unauthorised colonies which according to him did not conform to the regularisation guidelines. He soon found support from Sahab Singh Chauhan and Manoj Shokeen of his own party and Surender Kumar and Ram Singh Netaji of the BSP. Mr. Netaji, whose party leaders have been accused of grabbing Government land in South Delhi in the name of regularisation, also accused the Minister of not giving time to the MLAs to say their part.

While normally under Rule 280, discussions are not allowed and the Minister is at liberty to reply to an issue or not, Dr. Walia chose to speak up. He said while the Irrigation and Flood Control Department has been taking up development works of less than Rs.1 crore in unauthorised colonies, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and Municipal Corporation are taking up works worth of over Rs 1 crore.

But as per the directions of the Finance and Planning Department, he said, the maps have to be first authenticated of these colonies as that was not done by the MCD earlier.

“This job has been given to the Survey of India and we have got about 300 maps from it so far. As we will get more of them, we will take up the work in more colonies,'' he said.

This, however, did not satisfy the BJP members and Chief Whip Sahab Singh Chauhan said “maps are not required. Even if the colony is coming up on the government land, only a penalty can be charged. You can charge the rates for regularisation and resume work by just leaving out the ASI and forest land.''

At this Dr. Walia accused the BJP members of adopting double standards.

“The Lokayukta is seized of the matter. As per the Government of India and court orders the rules are clear that the boundary has to be fixed on the basis of the 2002 aerial survey and the population has to be determined on the basis of the 2007 aerial survey. Now that we are adhering to the rules, you are criticising us.''

The Minister said in the next 10 to 15 days, the Delhi Government is expected to get all the maps from the Survey of India and then the work would start in all the unauthorised colonies.

When the members persisted that the Minister relent on the issue, Speaker Yoganand Shastri said “this is a serious matter and both sides want immediate action. The Chief Minister should call the Cabinet or some people to sort it out. The Government has to act, how it would, it knows. At least the works started in colonies should not be stopped. A large population lives in these colonies, they want quick work.''