‘Reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion is a press­ing need’

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Khirki Ex­ten­sion, which was re­cently in the eye of the storm when Delhi’s chief min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal held a dharna at Rail Bhawan for po­lice in­ac­tion (in ar­rest­ing for­eign­ers al­legedly in­volved in flesh trade), is one of the 1,639 unau­tho­rised colonies await­ing the gov­ern­ment’s nod for reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion. It’s an irony of sorts that the chief min­is­ter’s an­ti­cor­rup­tion cru­sade is linked to an area known for vi­o­la­tion of rules and il­le­gal con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity.

Had the civic bod­ies, de­vel­op­ment agen­cies and gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies not col­luded with law vi­o­la­tors, Khirki Ex­ten­sion would not have come into ex­is­tence to­day. And that’s the case with all the unau­tho­rised colonies in Delhi.

Dur­ing the late 70s, when the mi­grant pop­u­la­tion started in­creas­ing in Delhi, some peo- ple col­luded with au­thor­i­ties to build houses on agri­cul­tural land be­long­ing to Khirki vil­lage. Sur­pris­ingly, 40 years later, rules still con­tinue to be flouted.

“There is no re­stric­tion on con­struc­tion here. You can con­struct as many floors as you want as there are no build­ing by-laws for us. Peo­ple have con­structed even seven-storey build­ings while in Delhi you can’t con­struct more than four floors (ground plus three floors) on any plot. Do you think po­lice and civic bod­ies are not aware of this? You just have to pay a bribe to do what you want,” says a res­i­dent who con­fesses to pay­ing money to au­thor­i­ties.

E ve n RWA s o f va r i o u s blocks agree that their re­peated re­quests to var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties against on­go­ing il­le­gal con­struc­tion went un­heard. “We have been writ­ing to var­i­ous gov­ern­ment bod­ies and to the po­lice but no one lis­tens to us. We hope that the Ke­jri­wal gov­ern­ment will look into the mat­ter,” says A Ge­orge, an of­fice bearer, res­i­dent wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion of J4 block.

Spread across eight blocks, half of the pop­u­la­tion of Khirki Ex­ten­sion com­prises peo­ple living in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Asked i f f or­eign­ers are re­ally a nui­sance in the colony, res­i­dents have mixed views. “For­eign­ers f rom Nigeria, Uganda and some other African coun­tries started set­tling here five to six years ago. Many ini­tially came in from Mu­nirka. How­ever, in due course of time, some res­i­dents grew un­com­fort­able with the life­styles of th­ese for­eign­ers. So, some for­eign­ers shifted to J3 block and J4 block. There were talks of in­volve­ment of for­eign na­tion­als in drugs and sex rack­ets, but I don’t re­mem­ber if any­one was caught com­mit­ting a crim­i­nal act,” says Ma­hen­dra Kaushik, pres­i­dent, R Block, Khirki Ex­ten­sion.

The biggest prob­lem here, though, is lack of civic ameni­ties. “It was only be­fore the last as­sem­bly elec­tion that the Sheila Dixit gov­ern­ment sanc­tioned funds for the con­struc­tion of roads. Work had just about started when the Congress was voted out of power. Ground­wa­ter has al­most de­pleted and wa­ter con­nec­tion has not been pro­vided since it’s an il­le­gal colony. So peo­ple have laid their pipes and got wa­ter con­nec­tion from dif­fer­ent ar­eas,” says Kaushik.

Res­i­dents of J3 and J4 block are happy with chief min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal’s dharna as they say that they were quite up­set with ris­ing pop­u­la­tion of for­eign ten­ants in the area. How­ever, some oth­ers feel dif­fer­ently. “For­eign­ers be­come easy tar­gets be­cause they are cul­tur­ally dif­fer­ent from us. Ev­ery­one seems to be talk­ing about drug rack­ets by for­eign­ers in this area, but is it true? I do not re­mem­ber any­one get­ting caught ever,” says a land­lord who has rented out all five floors of his house to for­eign­ers in J4 block.

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