Cabinet approves ownership rights to people in Delhi’s unauthorised colonieshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/cabinet-ministers-briefing-merging-of-mtnl-and-bsnl-unathorised-colonies-in-delhi-6084023/

Cabinet approves ownership rights to people in Delhi’s unauthorised colonies

The move comes ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decision "is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies" spread over 175 square km inhabited by people from lower-income groups, Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

The regularisation of unauthorised colonies has been a major poll plank in Delhi and all the major parties. (File)

Months before Assembly elections in Delhi, the Centre has decided to give ownership rights to people living in unauthorised colonies in the national capital. The decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

“The Cabinet has taken historic decision to give ownership rights to 40 lakhs people living in unauthorised colonies in Delhi,” said Union minister Prakash Javadekar at a press conference. The move comes ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls scheduled for early next year.

Elaborating further on the issue, Union Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “Centre will bring a Bill in Parliament winter session for ownership rights to residents of unauthorised colonies in Delhi.”

The decision “is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies” spread over 175 square km inhabited by people from lower-income groups, Hardeep Singh Puri said. “It does not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by the DDA, including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anantram Dairy,” Puri said.

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Reacting to the Cabinet’s decision, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Union Cabinet has prepared road map for regularisation of unauthorised colonies based on our proposal sent in July. We want Centre to start process of regularisation of unauthorised colonies immediately; there should be no further delay.”

The regularisation of unauthorised colonies has been a major poll plank in Delhi and all the major parties — BJP, Congress, AAP — have accused each other of politicising the issue.

An election issue for over 15 years, each party in the fray has promised regularisation to residents of these areas, which cover over 30 per cent of Delhi’s areas and house approximately half of Delhi’s population.

A committee was formed in March to prepare a list of recommendations to recognise rights of ownership or transfer/mortgage of residents of unauthorised colonies and revise norms to help improve road, water and sewage networks. The panel submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in June.

According to sources, the report has suggested that those who own houses in these areas be charged a one-time tax for recognition of ownership rights. Development charges will be levied separately for other facilities.

The Delhi government cleared a proposal earlier this year to map unauthorised colonies using drones after four different methods tried since 2015 fell through.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been entrusted with carrying out the mapping exercise — a pre-requisite for any regularisation process to take shape. The mapping exercise will help determine which houses are eligible for regularisation, in accordance with the cut-off date of January 1, 2015.

Cabinet nod to BSNL, MTNL merger

Besides this, a wide range of decisions was taken at the Cabinet meeting, including the merger of MTNL and BSNL for the revival of state-owned telecom firms.

“Neither MTNL or BSNL are being closed, nor being disinvested, nor is being hired to any third party. The Union Cabinet has approved revival plan of BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) and in-principle merger of the two. 4G spectrum will be allocated to Telecom PSEs (Public Sector Enterprises),” said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Cabinet hikes wheat MSP

The Cabinet also hiked the minimum support price for wheat by Rs 85 to Rs 1,925 a quintal and for pulses by up to Rs 325 per quintal. “In a move to increase farmers’ income, the Cabinet has increased the MSP of rabi (winter-sown) crops for the current year,” Javadekar told reporters.