Every time when Delhi elections are round the corner, the issue of regularising unauthorised colonies in the Capital is taken up by the Government and the political parties. It is estimated that approximately 40 lakh people i.e. more than 30 percent of Delhi’s population live in these unauthorised colonies that form a significant part of the vote banks of the petty politicians, who are intrinsically disabled from seeing beyond the end of their nose.
But what are these unauthorised colonies? In simple words, officially unauthorised colonies are categorized as illegal as such colonies are either constructed against zoning regulations, or developed by violating Delhi’s Master Plans (for 1962, 2001, and 2021) or built on “illegally subdivided” agricultural land. Delhi currently has more than 1,600 unauthorised colonies.
Though slightly better than slums and jhuggi jhopri clusters (JJCs) but families living in unauthorised colonies receive poor or insufficient services and legally they cannot transfer the land they own.
Regularising these colonies means giving these properties a legal status and property title to be recognised by law and registered with the State.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) claims that unavailability of low cost or affordable housing is the major reason for the rise in unauthorised colonies in Delhi. It was the responsibility of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to provide LIG, MIG and EWS housing. Moreover, Delhi’s swift growth rate in terms of number of residents is another reason often cited by the Government. The lack of coordination among the municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council, Delhi Cantonment Board and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the State Government too has led to this chaos.
Beginning of regularisation
For the first time regularisation was taken up in the 1970s.
In 1993, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) thought of regularising 1071 colonies but NGO the Common Cause Society intervened and asked about the manner of regularisation. The Delhi High Court then stopped the process and asked GNCTD to submit guidelines.
In 2007 GNCTD submitted the guidelines followed by regularisation in 2008 and 1639 colonies filed application for regularisation. The GNCTD regularised 895 unauthorised colonies in Delhi.
On September 4, 2012, the GNCTD issued orders listing the 895 unauthorised colonies eligible for regularisation. Out of this, 312 were regularised with effect from September 4, 2012.
Formulation of guidelines
The present policy guidelines were prepared on March 24, 2008 with the title, ‘Regulations for Regularisation of Unauthorised Colonies,’ under Section 57 of the 1957 DDA Act.
As per the guidelines, any colony that wanted to apply for regularisation must establish and register a residents’ welfare association (RWA). A layout including information like names of streets, neighbouring areas, boundaries and a detailed list of residents were other requirements.
Draft policy on regularisation
The Central Government has embarked upon the task of preparing a draft policy on regularisation of unauthorized colonies in Delhi. Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay met Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu regarding this. He wanted to clear all the hurdles and requested the Centre to give permission to regularise colonies constructed till 2013. He has also requested to initiate development work related to basic amenities in these unauthorised colonies.
On the other hand, a significant number of people living in unauthorised colonies often complained about the work done so far. All the political parties include in their pre-election promises regularisation as one of the main agenda but as soon as the Government is formed this promise takes a back seat.
The Government has formulated a set of policies for regularising the unauthorised colonies in Delhi. And it goes on and on, nobody knowing what it is all about, where it is heading. The birth of the problem itself is a disastrous consequence of our past electoral practices, like everything else we see around. Elections in Delhi are expected in February next and the issue again heats up. Everyone cries the Government must take “actionable” decision to uplift the life of the people! What action?