‘Regularisation is a pressing need’
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.