Hap­pi­ness and dis­con­tent­ment

HT Estates - - Front Page - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Some­times, a good lo­ca­tion might not just trans­late to great res­i­den­tial op­tions. Ma­jnu Ka Tilla is one such ex­am­ple in Delhi. De­spite be­ing in the pre­mium Ring Road area in north Delhi, it has noth­ing much to boast about by way of qual­ity ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Ma­jnu Ka Tilla has three prom­i­nent res­i­den­tial ar­eas, namely Aruna Na­gar, New Aruna Na­gar and Old Chan­drawal Vil­lage. It also has two huge jhuggi jhopadi clus­ters which, lo­cals al­lege, has grown with the con­nivance of civic au­thor­i­ties and land mafias.

The old­est among all these ar­eas is Old Chan­drawal Vil­lage, which was pop­u­lated dur­ing the early 1900s when the British gov­ern­ment gave dwelling space to labour­ers en­gaged in the con­struc­tion of the secretariat.

Aruna Na­gar came into ex­is­tence in 1958-59, when the land and de­vel­op­ment wing of the ur­ban de­velop- ment min­istry gave 925 plots mea­sur­ing 40 square yards to peo­ple from var­i­ous parts of north Delhi un­der a re­set­tle­ment plan. While they were be­ing set­tled there, a Ti­betan camp came up across the road on the Ya­muna riverbed for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Ti­betans flee­ing their coun­try af­ter the Chi­nese oc­cu­pa­tion. Though they had taken shel­ter in ar­eas around the In­doChi­nese bor­der, they had to move again af­ter war broke out be­tween the two nations and some opted to move to Delhi. It was named New Aruna Na­gar.

“There are 3000 to 3500 dwelling units in these three colonies but none of the res­i­dents has own­er­ship rights. Now the gov­ern­ment has in­cluded New Aruna Na­gar (Ti­betan refugee camp) in the list of 895 to-be-reg­u­larised colonies. This has caused a re­sent­ment among the res­i­dents of Aruna Na­gar and Old Chan­drawal Vil­lage,” says a res­i­dent.

The res­i­dents’ wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion of Aruna Na­gar com­plains that the Delhi gov- ern­ment is be­ing bi­ased and dis­crim­i­na­tory. “While refugees at Ti­betian camps are unau­tho­rised oc­cu­pants, we were prop­erly re­set­tled un­der a plan by the gov­ern­ment of In­dia. I have noth­ing against any­one as ev­ery­one has the right to a shel­ter. But if gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to reg­u­larise their colony, why are we be­ing not treated equally?” says Milkhi Ram Sharma, pres­i­dent, Aruna Na­gar RWA.

Res­i­dents’ also com­plain about the gov­ern­ment’s flip flop on the own­er­ship is­sue. Both Aruna Na­gar’s and Old Chan­drawal Na­gar’s sta­tus in mu­nic­i­pal records is of unau­tho­rised-reg­u­larised colonies. In 1984, the gov­ern­ment mooted a scheme un­der which res­i­dents were given the op­tion to pay de­vel­op­ment charges and get their plots con­verted to free­hold.

“Some went for con­ver­sion while many de­cided to wait. But even the for­mer cat­e­gory of res­i­dents didn’t get free­hold sta­tus,” says Tir­lok Singh Sachdeva, Pres­i­dent, Pun­jabi Kalyan Samiti.

On the other hand, peo­ple in New Aruna Na­gar are up­beat about the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion. “As of now, we don’t have own­er­ship rights but we are happy to know that the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to give us that right. We are very grate­ful to the In­dian gov­ern­ment for giv­ing us shel­ter. We have no com­plaints re­gard­ing any­thing,” says Karten Tsering, pres­i­dent, New Aruna Na­gar Colony Res­i­dent Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion.

Over the years, New Aruna Na­gar has emerged as a for­eign tourist hotspot. Many big ho­tels and restau­rants have come up, cater­ing to the needs of the tourists. Nu­mer­ous shops of woollen clothes, or­na­ments, mo­mos, and noo­dles have opened which also make one ques­tion the open vi­o­la­tion of civic laws.

“How can you make a fivesto­ried ho­tel on a river bed? Some peo­ple here think they can do any­thing they want. They should re­spect to our civic laws,” says a stu­dent, who lives on rent in one of the colonies.

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