Glaring lapses in 1976 housing scheme for poor

Most of the 154 plots in Nehru Colony allotted to the poor and landless residents for housing in 1976 have subsequently been resold in violation of allotment regulations,it has been learnt.

Written by Dharmendra Rataul | Amritsar | Published: February 7, 2009 3:36:42 am

Most plots resold against rules; conditions ignored

Most of the 154 plots in Nehru Colony allotted to the poor and landless residents for housing in 1976 have subsequently been resold in violation of allotment regulations,it has been learnt. Conditions restricting allottees’ legal ability to sell,mortgage or transfer the plots have been ignored as over 100 properties have since been sold,sometimes with the alleged participation of revenue officials.

The 100 square-yard plots were originally issued by the then Governor through the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO),Verka. Though granted full ownership rights over the properties,allottees were required to build houses on the land within two years and were not allowed to resell or transfer the plots,which were to remain hereditarily in the allottees’ possession.

A 2008 inquiry conducted by former Amritsar SP (Detective) Manminder Singh into land-grab charges against ASI Lakhbir Singh,accused of forcibly occupying a plot owned by one Prem Sagar,brought the violations to light. In his complaint against Singh,Sagar said,“Most of the plots are now owned by the rich and powerful,who have either bought or forcibly occupied plots meant for the poor.” In addition to finding Lakhbir Singh guilty,the inquiry report submitted to the Punjab DGP also made mention of the resold plots.

Many of the plots’ “new” owners have since built their own homes on the land – for which Municipal Town Planning (MTP) officials approved building plans without verifying plot ownership details. In further breakdown of diligence,the Punjab State Electricity Board provided electricity to the homes,while the local Municipal Corporation furnished sewerage and water connections.

The condition that houses be constructed on the allotted land within two years of possession has also been disregarded,with five to six plots still lying vacant and many other houses having been built long after the time-limit had elapsed.

Colony residents said that government officers and revenue authorities rarely visited the area to check whether regulations were being met,even as plot ownership was exchanged with impunity.

On being contacted,Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu said he intends to order an inquiry into the issue,adding,“It is a serious matter that the government’s basic objective of providing housing to deserving persons has failed or is on the verge of failing. We will hold a full-fledged probe into the matter and erring officials or persons will not be spared.”

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