Different rules apply?
DDA’s draft policy on farmhouses draws flak
A draft of the muchawaited policy for farmhouses in Delhi, which has been hailed by property owners, has drawn flak from the nonofficial members comprising Delhi MLAs and municipal councillors, who want a rethink on it.
The joy of farmhouse owners, many of them affluent and powerful, is understandable as the proposed policy allows for regularisation of these properties, even on notified land. Unauthorised construction in farmhouses that came up before February 7, 2007, too will be regularised as will those whose sanctions had been sought prior to that date by payment of specified dues to the authorities. The regularised properties are to be called country homes and permitted in all zones, barring some specified areas. Also to be allowed is built-up area of 30% as against just one per cent till now. And wait, this is not enough. There is also a suggestion included that the farmhouses of specified sizes be permitted to have fitness centres, naturopathy clinics, noninvasive health clinics. Plots of more than five acres on roads least 18-metre wide may be used for socio-cultural and recreational purposes — be it an amusement park or a resort.
This grand booty of concessions allowed to farmhouse owners in the proposed policy has been slammed by the DDA nonofficial members — three MLAs, Subhash Chopra and Naseeb Singh both from the Congress as well as former BJP president Harsh Vardhan (BJP MLA). The other two members are municipal councillors, Rajesh Gahlot and Sudesh Bhasin, both from the BJP. According to Subhash Chopra, any policy that provides amnesty for unauthorised construction should benefit all. “Why only the farmhouse owners? There should be amnesty for the poor, the middle class and also traders. Let the unauthorised colonies and unauthorised construction in DDA flats or even markets — be it South Extension, Model Town or Daryaganj — be regularised. When a low income person in a DDA flat builds an extra room, the officials rush to demolish it and here it (DDA) wants to regularise the farmhouses immediately. Why should there be different rules for different people?” he asks.
The proposed policy draft smacks of “favouritism for the rich”, says Vardhan. “The priority should be to help the economically-weaker sections. But if a small shop owner breaches the rules, the officials throw the rule book at him. Instead of regularising the colonies and unauthorised constructions in middle-and low-income colonies, the government seems to be in a tearing hurry to provide succour to the rich who have built palatial ‘farmhouses’. Rules are made for people and not people for rules. What is also objectionable is that many of the existing farmhouses are on the land that under the present Delhi master plan can be used for housing and even much-needed facilities such as schools, hospitals or roads. The proposed policy is cheating the masses of Delhi,” he said.