New Delhi, Dec 1 : As the capital gets ready for another assembly election, the race between the political parties to promise the "welfare" of the unauthorised colonies has again taken a front seat.
Each of three main contenders for the Assembly polls -- AAP, BJP and the Congress -- are blaming the other two for not doing anything for these colonies.
The unauthorised colonies, according to the Delhi government, came into existence as the city was not ready to accommodate the large inflow of migrants in the city.
"These colonies have been in existence right from the time the planned development of the city started with the setting-up of DDA in 1957.
These colonies came up as the DDA was unable to construct enough low-cost housing and there was large scale migration from neighbouring states.
It is estimated that about 40 lakh families are residing in these unauthorized colonies," an official from Delhi's Urban Development Department said.
The official said in 1977 that the Centre issued a policy for regularization of various unauthorized colonies which had come up in Delhi and 567 colonies were regularised till October 1993.
While the BJP and the Congress have been talking about these colonies and their welfare since 1998, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also made regularisation of the unauthorised colonies as part of its poll promises in the 2013 and 2015 Assembly elections.
With the elections drawing close, all three parties are accusing the other two of using these colonies as vote banks.
In 1999, the Sheila Dikshit government decided to get the construction of roads and drains done through the MCD and DSIDC.
The work of building roads and drains in these has started then, according to the official.
However, according to AAP MLA and spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, it was the Arvind Kejriwal government whch decided to spend money on the development of these colonies.
"Before us, it was all tokenism.
The work used to be done in one or two colonies and the rest used to suffer," he said.
"We have fulfilled almost all our poll promises. We have even done more than our manifesto. They don't do that. BJP promised that it will regularise these colonies in 2014 and in 2019 general elections. They won the two elections, but did not take any steps. It was only when Delhi elections are approaching that they are talking about it," the AAP legislator said.
"The Congress too cheated the people.
It too distributed a provisional certificate to the people. The certificate now does not have any value and legal standing," he added.
On the claim of the Congress party that they have started the development of these colonies in 1999, Bhardwaj said they only started constructing roads, that too in a few colonies.
"They never laid sewer and water supply lines.
They never allowed that the MLA funds to be used in these colonies. It was our government who changed the policy. Now, an MLA can use his funds for the development of these colonies," Bhardwaj said.
Kejriwal too has said that the scale of development of the unauthorized colonies in the last five years was the highest in the last 70 years, even as he has blamed the Central government-controlled DDA for the mushrooming of these colonies.
"It has been the responsibility of the DDA to provide affordable housing to the people in Delhi, but unfortunately, the stipulated demand for housing has not been met.
This has resulted in the set-up of unauthorized colonies in the city in large numbers. The previous governments did nothing to improve the conditions of these unauthorized colonies and the people had to continue to live in miserable conditions," he has said.
However, the BJP said that Kejriwal is misleading the public and it was the Centre who fast-tracked the process.
The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has said a committee headed by the Delhi Lt.
Governor was constituted to recommend the process for conferment or recognition of rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage of property, thereby creating the opportunity for redevelopment of such areas in a planned manner.
"Based on the report of the Committee, regulations for conferring or recognising ownership or mortgage or transfer rights to the residents of unauthorised colonies have been notified by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on October 29," Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said.
According to Puri, the Delhi government has been demanding another two years' time to complete the process.
"The Centre wanted to speed up the work and so we started the process.
The Delhi government has sought time till 2021 to complete the task," he said.
Over 40 lakh people reside in 1,731 unauthorized colonies and will be benefited, he added.
The Delhi Congress said the AAP and the BJP have betrayed over 40 lakh people living in the capital's unauthorized colonies.
"The Modi government nullified the notification issued by the Congress government and came out with a new notification only to delay and prevent the regularization of unauthorized colonies," Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra said.
He said that it was the late Shiels Dikshit's government which started working on the development of these colonies, and not AAP.
The tenure of the Kejriwal government is ending in February 2020.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)