When the issue of illegal colonies has forced the Punjab government to issue various guidelines to stop the rot in the state, a close look at the sites of various bodies – under the Department of Housing and Urban Development Punjab – revealed the callous attitude of such bodies while carving out planned colonies. They generally leave open spaces for rampant ‘unplanned’ growth of illegal colonies set up by unscrupulous colonisers in connivance with the officials of these bodies.
These bodies include Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) set up in 1995, GLADA (Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority), GMADA (Greater Mohali Area Development Authority), Jalandhar Development Authority (JDA), Amritsar Development Authority (ADA), Bathinda Development Authority (BDA), Patiala Development Authority (PDA), etc.
Against the development of the legal planned colonies, around 20 times illegal colonies have come up in the state in the past 27 years ever since the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act (PAPRA), 1995, (amended in 2014) – which defines every aspect of a legal colony – has come into force right under the nose of these bodies which were set up to keep a check on development of illegal colonies.
The details collected from the websites of these bodies revealed that 638 colonies could only be developed on 10,377 acres across the state barring Dera Bassi, Lalru, New Chandigarh, Zirakpur, Kharar, Nayagaon, Kurali in 27 years (from 1995-2022) outside municipal limits of Punjab. Almost similar number of colonies could be developed within the MC limits.
Over 20,000 illegal/unplanned colonies have come up in the state – both within and outside the MC limits – in these 27 years, according to informal reports collected by the government.
Punjab Revenue Minister Brahm Shanker Sharma Jimpa had recently told The Indian Express that 10,000 to 15,000 illegal colonies exist in the state which is nearly 20 times the legal colonies.
Of the 638 colonies, 489 colonies were developed before 2013 and 110 colonies post-2013, while 11 affordable colonies were
developed during this period. The Punjab government had brought in several policies from 2013 to 2018 for the regularisation of the illegal colonies/plots.
Records of the Housing and Local Bodies Department revealed that from 2013 to 2017, as many as 6,662 applications were received for regularisation of illegal/unauthorised colonies, including 3,377 such colonies falling within municipal limits and the remaining 3,285 colonies outside MC limits. Apart from this, 3,80,912 plot/building owners had applied for regularisation of their plots/buildings to the different local bodies and special development authorities.
Government sources said that from 2017 to date, the number of illegal colonies has grown by leaps and bounds.
A GLADA survey revealed that in 2018, as many as 1,416 illegal colonies were found in Ludhiana, 190 in Phillaur, 137 in Nawanshahr, 72 in Ferozepur, 68 in Moga and 19 in Khanna.
In the JDA area also, there were 563 unauthorised colonies, including 248 in Jalandhar, 281 in Hoshiarpur and 34 in Kapurthala.
Similarly, under ADA, PDA, BDA, and GMADA, thousands of unauthorised colonies were found in internal surveys.
As far as legally licenced colonies are concerned, they were also mostly developed before August 2013 (when the policy was brought in to regularise illegal colonies).
According to ADA, it has developed 108 colonies, including 90 before August 2013 and 18 post-August 2013. Out of these, about 80 colonies were developed in Amritsar, including 66 before August 2013 and 13 post-August 2013; in Gurdaspur 13 colonies, including 11 before 2013 and two post-2013, were developed; in Tarn Taran one each before August 2013 and post-August 2013; 13 in Pathankot, including 12 before August 2013. All these colonies were developed on 2,225 acres.
GLADA developed 194 colonies, including 165 before August 2013. GLADA developed 154 colonies in Ludhiana, including 130 before August 2013; 10 colonies in Ferozepur, all before 2013; six in Moga; 11 in Nawanshahr; and 13 in Phillaur, including 11 before August 2013. All these colonies were developed on 2,750 acres.
BDA developed 73 colonies on 1,360 acres, including 68 before August 2013. Out of these, 47 were developed in Bathinda, including 42 before August 2013; seven were developed in Mansa; nine in Faridkot; four in Fazilka; and six in Muktsar Sahib – all before 2013.
PDA developed 70 colonies on 715 acres, including 65 before August 2013. Out of these, 58 colonies were developed in Patiala, including 55 before August 2013. PDA developed two, three and seven colonies in Fatehgarh Sahib, Barnala and Sangrur, respectively, all before 2013 barring two post-2013 in Sangrur.
JDA developed 106 colonies on 1,100 acres, including 74 before August 2013 and 32 post-August 2013. Out of these, 58 colonies were developed in Jalandhar, including 36 before 2013 and 20 post-2013; 25 in Hoshiarpur, including 21 before 2013 and four-post 2013; and 23 in Kapurthala, including 17 before August 2013.
GMADA, which covers Mohali, Dera Bassi, Lalru, New Chandigarh, Zirakpur, Kharar, Nayagaon, Kurali, Rajpura, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar, could provide the details of the colonies in Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rajpura and Ropar. In these four places under GMADA, just 73 colonies – including 27 before August 2013 and 31 post-2013 – could be developed on 2,227 acres.
Sources said that the number of unauthorised colonies under the GMADA area is very high.
The data revealed that from 2013 to 2018, several policies were brought in for the regularisation of illegal colonies, but only 81 licences could be issued under PAPRA, 1995, (amended in 2014). But the growth of illegal colonies was in thousands despite a complete ban on developing unauthorised colonies under PAPRA.
“The purpose of the government’s move to bring one policy after another from 2013 to 2018 for regularisation of illegal colonies was not to stop illegal colonies but to allow the development of such colonies and then apply for regularisation. Every government department was flouting norms while registering plots in such colonies, not taking stern action against the colonisers,” said a senior officer in PUDA.
An expert on the issue said that high development charges for approved colonies were also the reason behind the mushrooming of illegal colonies in the state.
In Ludhiana, the development charges are Rs 30 lakh per acre. It’s Rs 25 lakh per acre in Jalandhar, while it’s Rs 18 lakh per acre in Amritsar and Patiala.
Minister for Local Government Inderbir Singh Nijjar could not be reached for his comments on this issue.