Regularised, but a lot remains irregular
In a matter of days, over 40 lakh residents in the Capital are set to acquire a cartographic and legal footprint of their existence with the Delhi government's decision to regularise over 900 unauthorised colonies in the city.
A primary campaign promise in the run up to the assembly elections in 2008, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had sworn to regularise more then 1, 600 unauthorised colonies. However, after distributing 'provisional' certificates then, the government had made no progress in granting amnesty till now. Last week, the Union urban development ministry approved a list of 917 colonies, which now awaits the final approval of Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna.
Living in such unauthorised colonies came with its set of consequences. One, the locality is not recognised on the official map of the city/district. Two, residents held no title. Three, an unauthorised colony cannot be given or demand 'regular' municipal functions provided by the government — water, power, sewerage and roads.
However, in 1998, the Delhi High Court, allowed civic amenities in unauthorised settlements, but with a rider that this does not make them legal in any sense.
All of that is set to change with the notification that seeks to accept them and integrate within the ambit of what is the 'regular' settlement.
This move takes away the uncertainty of one's existence, but it is here that the scheme has problems to encounter, legacy issues to confront, and several challenges to surmount.
There is also a silver lining in all of this. Regularisation could spawn several developments that if guided well, can see a steady supply of housing with the potential to moderate prices.
The unauthorised colonies date back to the '70s when the city saw increasing numbers of migrants settling here in search of economic opportunities.