Af­ter six failed at­tempts, will Pun­jab govt’s sev­enth amnesty do the trick?

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - ESTATES - Mu­niesh­wer A Sa­gar mu­niesh­wer.sa­gar@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CHANDI­GARH: The fu­ture tra­jec­tory of the Pun­jab ur­ban growth will be largely de­ter­mined by the suc­cess or fail­ure of the soon to be im­ple­mented new pol­icy on reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of the unau­tho­rised colonies and plots/ build­ings therein.

The Pun­jab cab­i­net ap­proved the fi­nal draft of the pol­icy ear­lier this week.

If the suc­cess and fail­ure of the pre­vi­ous drafts are to be mea­sured on the ba­sis of twin ob­jec­tives of num­ber of il­le­gal colonies reg­u­larised and check­ing of growth of il­le­gal colonies, then they can be cat­e­gorised as fail­ures.

UNAU­THO­RISED COLONIES SAGA

The state gov­ern­ment came up with the def­i­ni­tion of an unau­tho­rised colony only in 2010 af­ter it in­tro­duced amend­ments in the Pun­jab Apart­ment and Prop­erty Reg­u­la­tion Rules (PAPRA), and in­cor­po­rated rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions for com­pound­ing of the of­fences in the rules.

In rule 31 (3), some con­di­tions were laid down for com­pound­ing of the of­fences of unau­tho­rised colonies to ful­fil cer­tain con­di­tions so as to make an of­fence un­der the PAPRA el­i­gi­ble for com­pound­ing.

But, as per pro­vi­sions in­cor­po­rated, only a few col­o­niz­ers ac­tu­ally opted for get­ting the of­fences com­pounded.

In fact, most of the colonies did not ful­fil the pro­vi­sions as laid down un­der Rule 31(3) (b), (c), (d) and (e). This was the first at­tempt at reg­u­lar­is­ing il­le­gal colonies. There­after, poli­cies were in­tro­duced in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018, which also were un­able to solve the prob­lem.

SCALE OF FAIL­URE

On an av­er­age, only 428 il­le­gal colonies were reg­u­larised per ev­ery pre­vi­ous pol­icy. As per gov­ern­ment fig­ures, of more than 8,000 il­le­gal colonies, only 2,565 colonies were reg­u­larised.

In 2014, there were 5,340 il­le­gal colonies (as per the 2014 reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion pol­icy), now the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials claim there are more than 8,000 il­le­gal colonies fall­ing un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of hous­ing and lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.

The acreage un­der il­le­gal colonies has also in­creased in the last eight years. The 2014 pol­icy es­ti­mated 25, 000 acre un­der il­le­gal colonies. This jumped to 40,000 acres (on the ba­sis of ap­pli­ca­tion re­ceived from colonis­ers for reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of il­le­gal colonies) in 2016. The state gov­ern­ment hasn’t given an es­ti­mate on the to­tal acreage un­der il­le­gal colonies in the cur­rent reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion pol­icy.

Of­fi­cials of both the lo­cal gov­ern­ment and hous­ing depart­ment are not sure about the acreage num­ber as the ex­act in­ven­tory (size, bound­ary) is not avail­able with them.

Blam­ing the gov­ern­ment for fail­ure of the pre­vi­ous poli­cies, Gur­winder Singh Lamba, gen­eral sec­re­tary, Pun­jab Colonis­ers and Prop­erty Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, who also at­tended the group of min­is­ters meet­ings dur­ing the de­lib­er­a­tions on the new pol­icy, said, “Pre­vi­ous poli­cies didn’t pro­vide ad­e­quate re­lief to col­o­niz­ers. The im­ple­men­ta­tion was faulty as of­fi­cials had too many dis­cre­tionary pow­ers, charges were too high and con­di­tions for pro­vi­sion of in­fra­struc­ture were also im­prac­ti­cal. In­stead of amnesty poli­cies, these were pun­ish­ment poli­cies.”

FU­TURE IM­PER­FECT

While colonis­ers and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials as­so­ci­ated with for­mu­la­tion of the new pol­icy are con­fi­dent that this time re­sponse will be pos­i­tive, but, there are also voices of con­cern that con­tend new pol­icy is bound to fail.

“Loop­holes in pre­vi­ous poli­cies led to their fail­ure. These loop­holes still ex­ist. Reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of a plot can be done ir­re­spec­tive of whether the colony is reg­u­larised or not, which is a big dis­in­cen­tive for the coloniser to reg­u­larise the colony,” said MS Au­jla, for­mer di­rec­tor, town plan­ning, Pun­jab lo­cal gov­ern­ment depart­ment.

So far, only 2,565 colonies have been reg­u­larised out of to­tal 6,662 ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived.

“It is pre­sumed that only those colonis­ers pur­sued the cases for reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion who cre­ated new il­le­gal colonies to avail the op­por­tu­nity to have saleable area up to 70 to 80% with just pay­ing 10-20% of the ap­pli­ca­ble charges, with no re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­velop and pro­vide in­fra­struc­ture, and no com­pul­sion to take com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate,” says Au­jla.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Navjot Singh Sidhu was also vo­cif­er­ous in his ob­jec­tions to the pol­icy la­belling it as an ope­nended of­fer to colonis­ers to cre­ate il­le­gal colonies. Sidhu had em­pha­sised that the built-up area should be the ba­sis of reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion and not saleable area.

The new pol­icy has re­placed built-up area with sold area (as was the case in the April 2018 pol­icy) as the ba­sis of clas­si­fi­ca­tion of il­le­gal colonies.

Even colonis­ers are not sure about the suc­cess of the new pol­icy. “The most im­por­tant is­sue here is the im­ple­men­ta­tion qual­ity. Some of the pre­vi­ous poli­cies were poorly for­mu­lated, though the 2013 pol­icy could have met with higher suc­cess. But, it was not im­ple­mented in a proper man­ner. We have our con­cerns that the lat­est for­mu­lated pol­icy might be­come a vic­tim of poor im­ple­men­ta­tion,” said Lamba.

HT FILE

The fi­nal draft of the pol­icy was ap­proved ear­lier this week.

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