HT Estates - - HT­ES­TATES -

Khirki Ex­ten­sion is one such ex­am­ple. Peo­ple here have con­structed houses on pri­vate agri­cul­tural land,” says San­jeev Gupta, a Delhi High Court lawyer.

“The Delhi Devel­op­ment Act, Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion of Delhi Act and a Supreme Court or­der pro­hibit any con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity in unau­tho­rised ar­eas. How­ever, with the silent ap­proval from the au­thor­i­ties, it’s be­ing car­ried out openly ev­ery­where,” Gupta al­leges.

Adds a se­nior MCD of­fi­cial, “Let alone the con­struc­tion in unau­tho­rised colonies, even in reg­u­larised colonies peo­ple can’t con­struct stilt plus ground fl oors plus three fl oors ( i t shouldn’t’ ex­ceed 17.5 me­tres) on any plot. How­ever, this pro­vi­sion has been openly flouted in colonies like Laxmi Na­gar, Bola Nath Na­gar, Shakarpur and many other sim­i­lar reg­u­larised colonies in other parts of Delhi.”

“Peo­ple are con­struct­ing six and seven floors in Khirki Ex­ten­sion by brib­ing po­lice and civic bod­ies. It’s il­le­gal and we ap­peal to the gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion against these peo­ple,” says Ge­orge.

Emi­nent ur­ban plan­ner and Padma Bhushan awardee, M N Buch, says, “It re­quires se­ri­ous ef­fort and de­tailed plan­ning to ad­dress the is­sues at hand. With checks on il­le­gal con­struc­tion, it’s equally im­por­tant to de­con­gest Delhi and ad­dress the hous­ing re­quire­ments of the mi­grant pop­u­la­tion.”

Buch claims that in 1996, Sahib Singh Verma, then chief

min­is­ter of Delhi, had asked him to sug­gest ways to solve the Cap­i­tal’s ex­plod­ing pop­u­la­tion and hap­haz­ard devel­op­ment prob­lems.

“I sug­gested sev­eral mea­sures l i ke mov­ing out t he ap­ple mandi from Azad­pur to Am­bala, cre­at­ing good in­fra­struc­ture and im­prov­ing con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Delhi and other cities so that many busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties could be shifted to those cities to ease pres­sure on the Cap­i­tal.”

A be­liever in strin­gent mea­sures to counter il­le­gal con­struc­tion, Buch, who was vice chair­man of Delhi Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (DDA) for 19 months in the late ’70s, had de­mol­ished sev­eral il­le­gal colonies, in­clud-

ing Ma­hen­dra En­clave (near GT Kar­nal Road) de­spite strong crit­i­cism from some politi­cians.

“When I had de­mol­ished sev­eral houses in Ma­hen­dra En­clave, the then prime min­is­ter Mo­rarji De­sai asked me to see him the very next day at 6 am as he was un­der the im­pres­sion that the colony was in ex­is­tence for over a decade and that it had been wrongly de­mol­ished.”

“So I car­ried bricks from the de­mo­li­tion site in a lorry to the prime min­is­ter’s house. The year of man­u­fac­ture on the bricks was 1978. I told the PM that a decade- old colony would use bricks man­u­fac­tured in 1968 or be­fore that. I tried to show how it was im­por­tant

to nip the prob­lem in the bud,” Buch adds.

An­other vet­eran city plan­ner, RG Gupta, who was with DDA from 1965 to 1994, says that he has seen how unau­tho­rised colonies have grown in Delhi from 101 in 1,965 to more than 2,000 colonies to­day un­der the po­lit­i­cal pro­tec­tion of var­i­ous gov­ern­ments.

“Where the Delhi gov­ern­ment is con­cerned, as far as I know, no thought process is go­ing on in con­nec­tion with the is­sue of reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of unau­tho­rised colonies. Hav­ing reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of colonies on the Aam Aadmi’s elec­tion man­i­festo doesn’t make any sense if il­le­gal ex­pan­sion of colonies and land en­croach­ment con­tin­ues,” says Gupta.

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