- Nearly 1,800 colonies have been marked for the big move
- People can now take loans to construct homes in these colonies
- The decision comes months before Delhi votes for a new assembly
Around 40 lakh people living in unauthorised colonies in Delhi will be given ownership rights, the government said today. Nearly 1,800 colonies have been marked for the big move, ministers said after a cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Ownership rights will be conferred to people who are living there, whether they are on private or government land," said Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri.
People can now take loans to construct homes in these colonies. Mr Puri called it the most "far-sighted, progressive, revolutionary step" for Delhi since independence.
The decision, described by the ministers as "historic", comes months before Delhi votes for a new assembly and has predictably set off a fight for credit between the centre and Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which accuses the BJP of blocking most of its plans.
The three Union ministers who addressed the media denied that the move had anything to do with politics or elections.
"This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's thinking, that we can do this. This is not politics...the people will get parks, electricity and a sewer system," said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Mr Puri said the decision had been taken to "ameliorate" the lives of people living in pathetic conditions. "Since 2008 the Delhi government has not done anything. This government would have taken till 2021," said the Union Minister.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government had invested much work and funds into these colonies. "We didn't wait for all this colonies to be legal. They lived in inhuman conditions. We invested Rs 6,000 crore and water, drains and sewer work was done in these colonies," he said.
"We want the centre to start the process of regularisation of unauthorised colonies immediately; there should be no further delay," Mr Kejriwal said, adding that the union cabinet prepared the roadmap for the colonies "based on our proposal" earlier this year.
The centre had accepted the Delhi government's proposal, Mr Kejriwal said. "Only when people get the registry will we will know this is for real...or else, people will think this is another poll gimmick," the Chief Minister said.
Unauthorized colonies, where thousands of residents live without legal water or power connections and land rights, have been a core theme for years for parties during elections in the capital. The colonies range from the densely-populated Jamia Nagar to the upscale Sainik Farms.
Mr Kejriwal's AAP and the BJP - which was decimated by AAP in the 2015 Delhi election - have been trading blame for the delay in regularizing the colonies.
In June, the Delhi government had sent proposals to the centre for regularizing 1,797 colonies.
Today's decision will apply to colonies for the lower income groups, said Mr Puri. It will not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anantram Dairy, he explained.
The Delhi government had proposed to charge one per cent cost of land circle rate for up to 200 square metre plots from occupants.
Delhi is a partial state, which means certain subjects, including decisions on land, come under the central government.
To enable the step, the centre will bring a bill in the winter session of parliament beginning November 18.