Punjab Cabinet meet: Amid Sidhu protests, policy to regularise illegal colonies passedhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/punjab-cabinet-meet-amid-sidhu-protests-policy-to-regularise-illegal-colonies-passed-5283871/

Punjab Cabinet meet: Amid Sidhu protests, policy to regularise illegal colonies passed

Sources said Sidhu raised his objections in the Cabinet meeting and said that while GMADA charge Rs 2.38 crore as development charges per acre for every new colony, government was not doing the right thing by charging Rs 10 lakh for every colony.

Punjab Cabinet meet: Amid Sidhu protests, policy to regularise illegal colonies passed
Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu (File)

DESPITE PROTESTS by Punjab’s Local Bodies Minster Navjot Singh Sidhu, the state Cabinet Monday cleared a policy to regularise all unauthorised colonies, plots and buildings in these colonies.

The Cabinet nod paves way for developers of each illegal colony to pay a compounding fee and get clearance as an authorised colony. The policy will turn all illegal colonies, houses and even plots, that were developed March 19, 2018, into legal colonies after payment of the compounding fee.

The agenda was taken to the Cabinet meeting Monday after the policy was finalised by a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Housing Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa recently. The sub-committee also had Sidhu on the panel but both the ministers were not on the same page. Sidhu had decided to take his objections to the Cabinet meeting on the issue.

Sources said Sidhu raised his objections in the Cabinet meeting and said that while GMADA charge Rs 2.38 crore as development charges per acre for every new colony, government was not doing the right thing by charging Rs 10 lakh for every colony. He is learnt to have said this was peanuts and the move would only end up developing slums rather than colonies.

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While, several ministers including O P Soni, Vijay Inder Singla and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria are learnt to have sided with Sidhu in the meeting, several others sides with Bajwa by stating the government needed revenues and by charging the fee from illegal colonies the government would be able to make Rs 500 crore to Rs 700 crore as there were roughly 5,000 unauthorised colonies.

Sidhu is learnt to have told the Cabinet that the government had regularised colonies seven times from 2005 to 2018 and yet illegal colonies were mushrooming.

He said regularisation of so many colonies at such meagre price would mean an extra burden on the state as it would spend about Rs 1 lakh crore for providing basic amenities to all these.

He also said the government had not even prepared an inventory of the unauthorised colonies. So, the number could even be more. Sources said, as Sidhu raised objections, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh intervened and the Cabinet decided to leave it on the CM as the latter told Sidhu that he could trust him for taking a final decision. Minutes after the Cabinet got over, the government issued a press statement that the Cabinet had given its nod for the policy.

Sources said Sidhu then wrote to the Chief Minister highlighting his points.

Sidhu and several party MLAs have been at loggerheads over the issue of illegal colonies in the recent past. Sidhu had even got several buildings in Jalandhar demolished and party MLAs had protested against him.

A government release said, as per the policy, any developer, Resident Welfare Association (RWA) or Cooperative Society can apply for regularisation of unauthorised colonies. However, in case of plots, compounding of colony is not mandatory for regularization of plots and plot owners can directly apply for regularisation.

The policy will be applicable to the entire state, including municipal limits falling under the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act, 1952, but shall not be applicable to the rest of the periphery area. This policy shall also not be applicable to the colonies having apartments.

Sidhu to meet RahulUpset at being ignored before clearing the illegal colonies policy, Sidhu will meet AICC president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday. Sources close to him said he had scheduled a meeting with him and several issues confronting the state would be discussed with him.

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