NEW DELHI: A bill to extend the deadline of a law to protect slums and unauthorised colonies in the national capital till 2020 was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri urging officials governing the city to assume a more responsible role.
The Bill was passed amid protest by Congress members over controversial remarks by Union Minister Anant Hegde that the ruling BJP was "here to change the Constitution" and also demands by the TRS members for a separate High Court for Telangana.
The Bill will extend the validity of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011 for three years from January 1, 2018 -- the current deadline for relocation and rehabilitation of slums and other unauthorised colonies in Delhi.
Puri said the Bill provides protection against punitive action on a number of categories and unless it was passed, "Delhi will witness unprecedented chaos".
"Some of the chaos was started by my friends in the Congress whose actions for many years that they were in power resulted in irresponsible, unauthorised constructions and failure of governance of a very high order," he said.
Referring to the demolition of hostel for blind students in the city, Puri said it was an unauthorised construction on the DDA land. He said four notices had been served and the DDA had offered an adjoining hostel in order to shift the blind students who were there. "But for a variety of reasons they decided to make it an issue in the press."
Referring to the sealing drive, he said there have been some discussions that those affected by this sealing could pay an interim charge of 25 per cent, which comes to Rs 22,000 by way of misuse charge as part of an undertaking till the issue is finally settled.
Noting that Delhi's population was 17 lakh in the 1951 census and it had been estimated at 186 lakhs in 2016, he said "growth has consequences", which was reflected in encroachment of public land, a growth of slums, unauthorised constructions, large-scale commercialisation of residential areas and inadequacy of housing.
Puri said the Delhi Laws Special Provisions Act was enacted in order to be able to provide cover against punitive action and the Act is being extended on an "as is where is basis" till 2020, adding that the Delhi Government gave an affidavit before the High Court in September this year saying that they require two more years in order to be able to complete the delineation of what is an unauthorised colony and what is an authorised colony in terms of the cut-off dates which are provided.
He also cited a Supreme Court judgment which lamented: "Invaders have pillaged Delhi for hundreds of years, but for the last couple of decades it is being ravaged by its own citizens and officials governing the city Capital".