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A ray of hope for 5 million residents of Delhi's unauthorised colonies

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre will move swiftly to execute the decision and bring a bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 18 to this effect

India, city, town, slums, urban
While Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who also addressed the media briefing on Cabinet decision, said the number of beneficiaries is 40 lakh, Puri said the figure nears the 50 lakh figure.

Ahead of the Delhi assembly polls, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to grant ownership rights to the people living in unauthorised colonies in the city, a move that will benefit 40 to 50 lakh people.

Making the announcement, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre will move swiftly to execute the decision and bring a bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 18 to this effect.

He also slammed the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government, accusing it of trying to "delay" the decision to grant people from low-income groups ownership rights.

Puri said the city government had sought time till 2021 to give the inputs sought from it for taking the decision and added that the Modi government decided to "take the initiative when it became clear that the Delhi government will do nothing".

The decision is politically significant as it will benefit millions of poor migrants who hold key to the assembly election results and had backed the AAP in large numbers in the 2015 assembly polls.

The Delhi Assembly elections are due early next year.

As per the existing regulations of 2008, the process of regularisation was to be coordinated and supervised by the Delhi government.

"Delineation of boundary of unauthorised colonies is the starting point of the process as per regulations. However, the Delhi government could not delineate the boundaries of these colonies even after 11 years of issuance of the regulations and has sought more time up to 2021 to complete this exercise," an official statement said.

The decision "is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies" spread over 175 sq km that are inhabited by people from lower income groups, he said.

While Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who also addressed the media briefing on Cabinet decision, said the number of beneficiaries is 40 lakh, Puri said the figure nears the 50 lakh figure.

It does not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anantram Dairy, Puri noted.

Welcoming the decision of the Union Cabinet, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the road map for it was based on a proposal sent by the Delhi government in July and that the Centre should start the process immediately.

"The Union Cabinet has prepared road map based on our proposal sent in July. We want the central government to start the process immediately. There should be no further delay," he said.

According to the statement, the proposed bill is aimed at recognising general power of attorney (GPA), will, agreement to sell, purchase and possession documents, which will be a one-time relaxation for this purpose for the residents of these colonies.

The bill will also provide for registration charge and stamp duty on last transaction and also address the issue of income tax liability on account of less than circle rate charges.

The minister said people living in these colones have neither invested in safe structures nor could the government create any social infrastructure on account of these colonies having developed without approved Layout Plan (LOP).

In the absence of basic amenities, the residents of these colonies are living in uninhabitable conditions. Though the Master Plan Delhi-2021 allows for redevelopment of colonies with 50 per cent additional floor area ratio (FAR) as an incentive, no redevelopment has taken place so far as the residents do not have ownership rights the statement said.

In July, the Delhi government had proposed a set of parameters to regularise the 1,797 colonies, which include charging one per cent cost of circle rate of land for up to 200 square metre plot from occupants besides a nominal penalty.

The rights will be conferred on payment of nominal charge based on carpet area/plot size. For colonies on government land, the charge will be 0.5 per cent (for less than 100 sq m), 1 per cent (for 100-250 sqm) and 2.5 per cent (for greater than 250 sqm), of the circle rate of highest category of locality of the residential area surrounding the unauthorised colony.

For colonies on private land, the charge will be half of the charge on government land, the minister explained.