DELHI: About 1,500 unauthorized colonies, where more than 30 lakh people live, will be legitimized under a plan approved by the Centre. The wealthy unauthorized colonies of Sainik Farms, Anant Ram Dairy and Mahendru Enclave are not part of the proposal, and will be addressed later.
The proposal to ‘regularize’ the colonies settled by squatters over the past three decades on both private and government land will require approval from the Delhi high court, before it can be implemented, urban development minister S. Jaipal Reddy said.
The colonies have helped meet the needs of the Capital city’s rapidly growing population, which quickly outpaced its supply of houses.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Centre’s final approval of the Delhi Master Plan 2021, which will allow increased commercial space, new housing developments, redevelopment, mixed-use neighbourhoods and skyscrapers.
“Regularization is an instrument that needs to be used with an extraordinary degree of caution,” said Ramesh Ramanathan, national technical advisor to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
“Laws are only as good as the credibility of enforcement,” Ramanathan said, adding that the government should be careful not to undermine its own laws.
Reddy said colonies that came up on government land would have to pay for the cost of land along with a penalty. The penalty will be designed to place less burden on poorer people on smaller plots. No fee will be charged for colonies on private land because the people who built houses on those properties paid farmers for the land they occupied.
About 80% of the unauthorized colonies were built on private land, Reddy said. Delhi’s population is estimated to grow to 2.3 crore by 2021, and the city might face a shortage of 24 lakh houses.