At a time when the Delhi government and the Centre are pushing to regularise over 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, a Monitoring Committee constituted by the Supreme Court has said that a land distribution scheme begun by the government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi over four decades ago has turned into a “scam involving hundreds of crores of rupees”.
The scheme was part of Indira Gandhi’s 20-Point Programme; after being launched in 1975, the Programme was re-structured thrice and is now called TPP-2006. Under the scheme, plots were allotted to the poor in two batches: 12,500 plots between 1981-85, and 9,576 between 1985-89. The plots were meant for residential use only.
On March 24, 2006, the Supreme Court set up a Monitoring Committee “to oversee the implementation of the Law, namely sealing of offending premises in terms of the letter and spirit of (the) court’s directions”. The Committee comprised K J Rao, former adviser to the Election Commission, Bhure Lal, chairman of the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) for the National Capital Region, and Maj Gen (retd) Som Jhingon.
The EPCA was itself constituted by the Centre in January 1998, in compliance of an order by the Supreme Court.
Monitoring Committee’s observations
In its report to the Supreme Court on August 8, 2019, the Monitoring Committee said that during a field visit in October 2018 to an area behind sector 7 of Dwarka sub city in the Najafgarh Zone, it noticed “major unauthorised constructions by way of huge showrooms, restaurants, gyms, etc”. “These shops/commercial activities were being carried out in/on small plots amalgamated, though allotted for weaker sections under 20 Point Programme,” the Committee said.
Supreme Court order and afterwards
In response to a previous report submitted by the Committee in December 2018, the Supreme Court had said on January 14 this year: “Let the SDMC explain as to why they have not taken any action under the provisions of DMC (Delhi Municipal Corporation) Act for unauthorised constructions.”
The Committee’s latest report said that no follow-up action had been taken as per the SC’s order.
At a meeting on July 1, the Committee asked for details of houses sites and plots allotted under the TPP, and on August 3, received the lists of original allottees from the Revenue department. But the Committee’s recent report noted that there was still no clarity about the large-scale commercialisation, transfer of ownership, amalgamation of plots and the “obvious dubious deals”.
What happens next
The Committee acknowledged that the efforts to identify the rightful allottees and the defaulters had reached a “dead end”. The Committee urged the Supreme Court to issue orders to the Revenue department and other local bodies to carry out a detailed survey of all the plots and properties that come under the ambit of TPP. Further action will be taken by the Committee after it receives relevant information from the concerned authorities.
Regularisation of unauthorised colonies/plots
Unauthorised colonies are a result of unplanned growth, but since they are often densely populated and offer large vote banks, politicians are inclined to get them “regularised”. In other words, they are approved, and residing in them becomes legal, so that infrastructure related to water supply, drainage, roads, educational institutions etc. can be set up.