Staff Reporter

Brainchild of Jaipal Reddy, the move comes in for sharp criticism

It has reduced the role of the Authority to that of a builder by doing away with the social responsibilityIt would take DDA flats beyond the financial reach of most middle class families 3,000-odd flats of HIG and MIG category are lying unsold after completion

NEW DELHI: The good old days of getting a Delhi Development Authority flat allotted that they could call a home may now be well beyond the reach for millions of middle class families in the Capital. The Union Urban Development Ministry on Tuesday sent out a note to the Authority directing it to auction all Higher Income Group (HIG) and Middle Income Group (MIG) flats henceforth.

The move - a brainchild of Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy -- has come in for sharp criticism from both within and outside DDA as it has reduced the role of the Authority to that of a builder by doing away with the social responsibility and it would take DDA flats beyond the financial reach of most middle class families.

Sources said the immediate effect of the decision would be felt on those 3,000-odd flats of HIG and MIG category that have been lying unsold after completion. Ever since its hugely successful Festival Housing Scheme2004, the Authority has not been able to come out with another HIG/MIG scheme as the Ministry was opposed to the idea of allotment of flats. The argument was that the low price was leading to mass speculation that was only helping the rich who could afford to block sizable amounts of money in the hope of being allotted a flat.

It was also felt in the Ministry that as most of the flats were being resold within a few months of allotment, most of the allottees were actually not needy people but speculators, and so why should DDA lose its money to them?

However, DDA officials insist that this is not the right approach and allotment of flats is the only way the middle class can be provided cheap housing. "The norms for allotment can be made stringent and through proper professional verification it can be ensured that those already possessing a house in Delhi are not allotted another,'' said one official. It is pointed out that DDA so far has constructed and allotted over 3 lakh flats in which over a million people live. All of them were allotted and therefore a sizable section of the population had benefited from them.

A non-official member of DDA and MLA from Nasirpur, Mahabal Mishra said the Union Ministry's move was not only anti-people and anti-middle class, it would also harm the interest of the ruling Congress party in Delhi as it would be seen playing into the hands of the property dealers who would corner most of the flats during the auction by forming cartels and later sell them off at much higher rates. "It would also push up the prices of residential properties and take them beyond the reach of the masses.''

Holding the view that some people were bent upon harming the interest of the party in Delhi, he said "some people appear to be misguiding the leadership": "Such moves would not lead to development, they would only ruin the existing structure.''