Colony regularisation: gap too wide between plan and execution


People living in unauthorised colonies are sceptical of the decision actually being implemented. They say it is unlikely to have a bearing on Assembly polls

The Centre’s decision to give ownership rights to those living in 1,731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, regulations for which were notified recently by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, is unlikely to be an electoral game changer. Most people The Hindu spoke to in some of these colonies are sceptical of the regularisation plan actually being implemented and said the decision would not have a bearing on their vote in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Vimal Sharma, a property owner in the narrow lanes of New Ashok Nagar who purchased her plot in 1997, said the regularisation promise was something every party has dangled ahead of polls in Delhi. “It was promised during [former Congress Chief Minister] Sheila Dikshit’s time also and we had even paid house tax. The Centre has promised it and even [Delhi Chief Minister Arvind] Kejriwal has said that he will do it if he comes back to power,” she said. She doubts the policy will even go through. “There’s no chance of it happening. I don’t see it being implemented,” said Ms. Sharma, who has a master’s in political science from Meerut University.

Unfulfilled dream

Others here echoed her views. Regularisation would be a huge relief for 55-year-old Jayant Akhuli , a lab technician. “There is this constant fear in our hearts that something could happen to our house. If the colony becomes authorised, we will not have to worry about it,” he said. But Mr. Akhuli is also sceptical if ownership rights would finally be a reality. “Every government in the past has promised this. New settlers here may get swayed by the announcement but the people who have been staying here for a long time won’t. They know that it’s just an election ploy,” he said.

In south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, a small pocket of about 120 plots makes up an unauthorised colony with its own Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) which runs a gated society manned by private guards, a private sewer system and independently employed garbage collectors.

RWA president Harbans Nagpal is opposed to the area falling in the list of 69 ‘posh colonies’ excluded from regularisation. “We don’t have a park or a club like at Sainik Farms...we will demand to know the guidelines under which we are included in the list. We put together our money and set up these systems independently; that doesn’t make our colony posh,” he said.

Mr. Nagpal welcomed the regularisation decision but said the credit for it could not be taken by any one government. “Even though the Centre finally approved it, the Delhi government after all made the application,” he said. He hoped the announcement is not some election propaganda.

“The guidelines should come out at the earliest so that we can be assured,” he said. He has already started collecting details of all residents in order to be prepared for if and when the registration process starts.

‘Neutralised’ impact

Yagavendra Singh, former RWA president of the area who also owns a plot in Bhawani Kunj, said that with both the Centre and the State government taking credit for the move, its electoral impact is likely to be neutralised. “Even though the [Union] Cabinet has passed it, the Delhi government is saying that it made the recommendation first,” he pointed out.

In nearby Harijan Basti, also in Vasant Kunj, a different kind of problem persists. Separated from Masoodpur village about 30 years ago, up to 18 plots here were awarded to people from SC and ST categories, residents said. “Sewers here are always clogged, the roads have not been fixed ever. On paper, CCTV cameras have already been set up, but there are none here,” said Rakesh Kumar, a resident. “The other unauthorised colonies in the area have regular upkeep. Who’s going to listen to Harijans?” asked Mr. Kumar.

He said through the regularisation move, the BJP had managed to do something that the Congress could not do in several years of its existence. He, however, insisted that the same issue would continue to come up: “Go to Tughlakabad,the way properties were once built here, they are now coming up there. As long as MPs and MLAs do their jugaad, this is going to continue. People pay local politicians a price to protect their illegal constructions, unauthorised colonies come up and the cycle continues,” said Mr. Kumar.

Shekhar Saroloya, also a resident of Vasant Kunj Harijan Basti, thinks that his colony may fall under the posh colonies list. “Though the civic infrastructure is poor in the locality, land rates here are as high as in RK Puram’s Aman Dairy,” he claimed. Mr. Saroloya is not too concerned though. “With no clarity yet on the way forward, voting trends are a far-off question,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 7:57:25 AM |

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