Recalling how former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had set up resettlement colonies for giving proper tenements to poor jhuggi-jhonpri dwellers, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri on Friday criticised the decision of the Delhi Government and the Centre to charge 100 per cent circle rates from residents of these colonies in lieu of ownership rights.

“I had worked closely with Ms. Gandhi then and she always had the welfare of the poor on her mind. It was in 1977 that she had decided to grant ownership rights in these colonies. The residents of these resettlement colonies had paid full cost upfront at the time of allotment of plots. So it is criminal to ask them again to pay circle rates, which vary from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.40,000 per square metre for their properties,’’ he said.

Noting that this demand would defeat the entire purpose of the exercise, Mr. Bidhuri said the Congress governments should not forget that about 80 per cent of residents of these resettlement colonies belonged to the below-poverty-line category. “So we demand that the charges be waived off and ownership papers be given to all the residents of these colonies without any conditions and delay.’’

He said a large number of representatives of the 45 resettlement colonies, which have a population of around 30 lakh, met him on Friday to discuss the situation arising out of grant of ownership rights to the residents of these colonies.