NEW DELHI: In East Delhi’s Pandav Nagar, the narrow lanes speak of official apathy and a lack of will among political parties, due to vote bank politics, to take action against unauthorised construction. Pandav Nagar, in a microcosm, represents the national capital’s ugly face - encroachment on government land and unauthorised colonies standing on them.
The erstwhile Congress government led by Sheila Dikshit distributed provisional certificates to around 800 colonies in a stopgap arrangement, but these areas still await a permanent solution. The AAP, which now holds the reins of governance in Delhi, promised to regularise these areas, but blames the Narendra Modi dispensation of hindering it.
It is not that the BJP is unaware of the heft of the votes from these crammed but thickly populated colonies. In one of its last Cabinet meetings, the Modi government approved the formation of a panel under Lt-Governor Anil Baijal to suggest a process for conferring transfer rights to residents of nearly 1,800 unauthorised colonies.
According to the AAP government, it has either spent or is spending around Rs 2,500 crore for the construction of roads and drains at about 650 unauthorised colonies in the last four years. “As much as the government is to blame, the people should be no less held responsible for the haphazard way that construction is taking place… Political will is lacking in every party, as the residents are voters and disturbing lakhs of voters means a disaster,” said a government official.
According to official estimates, only 1.45 lakh units of the nearly 44 lakh dwelling units in Delhi have layout plans approved by the four municipal bodies. In such a scenario, experts question the implementation of rules laid down under the Master Plan Delhi 2021.
Land being a Central subject, a bulk of the responsibilities related to the unauthorised colonies lies with the Central government. “The last survey of unauthorised colonies was done in 2003. If any regularisation of encroachment has to be done, a fresh survey is required, first by the Ministry of Urban Development. The problem also lies with the people. They think if they are paying property taxes, then they own the properties which they have built over government land,” said Jagdeesh Mamgain, former Works Committee Chairman, North MCD.
Of the nearly 1,800 colonies, 500 are on gram panchayat land, 900 colonies stand on individual agricultural land, and around 300 fall in the Ridge area. The remaining are on DDA, railways and MCD land. Construction on forest land is strictly prohibited. The revenue department identifies illegal constructions, which are demolished by the forest department. When it comes to agricultural land, land use norms have to be changed first before residential properties are allowed, even if the plots are owned by individuals. “Whatever the AAP government tries to do, DDA and the urban development ministry sit on the files to score political points,” said Kuldeep Kumar, AAP councilor in East MCD.
Back in Pandav Nagar, the people long for wide roads, parking lots and playgrounds for children. “The councilor opened an open air gym, which is a good step, but the park is so small that there is no space left for outdoor sports. Children now play in streets,” said Suraj Tiwari, a shopowner, summing up life in these colonies.
Just a paper plan
According to official estimates, only 1.45 lakh units of the nearly 44 lakh dwelling units in Delhi have layout plans approved by the four municipal bodies. So experts question the implementation of rules in the Master Plan Delhi 2021.