Call it irony or whatever else, the unauthorised colonies have been a boon for the citizens of Delhi. These colonies have allowed the real needy people to construct houses and thus checked black marketing of land. Many people put up an argument that the DDA’s control over the developed land has led to high land prices by creating artificial scarcity. But, actually the reverse is true. I need to speak a little about the land laws and the land market in Delhi to substantiate my point.
In Delhi, the major development of residential land is controlled by the DDA. In other words, all residential land in Delhi has to be owned by the DDA unless it decides to make the status of lands/flats/houses freehold and convey the same to the lessees. There are also some low income lands/flats/houses developed by the DDA and handed over to the MCD for management purposes, which lands/flats/houses are owned by the Government and licensed out to the residents. I don’t have much knowledge of the cantonment area land. Also, there is some land owned by the Government directly. Obviously, the DDA has badly failed in providing well developed land in Delhi leading to two ramifications: first, the price of land in the DDA developed land has sky rocketed, and, secondly, large number of unauthorized colonies have sprung up. Now, let us see how the unauthorized colonies come up. Unauthorized colonies are unauthorized not because the ownership is unauthorized but because the construction of residential units on a bonafidely owned agricultural land is unauthorized. In other words, if there were a mechanism for identification and transfer of small pieces (as small as 50 square yards) of agricultural land (which obviously can’t be put to any kind of agricultural use, but only to residential use), the ownership of individual residents on these plots had also been complete though the constructions had still remained unauthorized but only like any other unauthorized fourth floor in the so called authorized DDA colonies. But fortunately that has not happened in Delhi, let us see what has happened.
In Delhi, the agricultural land owners made some haphazard site plans with maximum possible utilization for residential use and minimal dedication to public use and, accordingly, sold the so-demarcated small plots to bonafide purchasers, but the registrar failed to register these transfers, for being unable to identify the transferred land. So, a person buying a plot of land this way has no recourse in a court of law because he is unable to identify his land legally. The courts don’t recognize the haphazard site plans prepared by the agricultural land owners and also want registered transfer documents in all cases of transfer of property; however, the courts do recognize bonafide possession. So, in other words, these small plots can be utilized only by those who actually live there, which means the black marketing of land is minimal as the initial development of land has to be done by the bonafide residents themselves; and the retention of unutilized land for speculative purposes carries very high risk, not only legally but also practically as no speculator likes employing resources for keeping a constant vigil on his visually identifiable but legally unidentifiable plot of land. This, in fact, has been a boon for the citizens of Delhi. This way, the resourceful citizens of Delhi have been able to find affordable land and make their houses over it. The vote bank politics has also ensured the provision of basic amenities in good time. Of course, these basic amenities only include paani, bijli and sadak; not parks, shopping centres, community hall, etc. Though I agree that, with the provisions of basic amenities, the land prices in these unauthorized colonies have also sky-rocketed, and all kinds of builders, politicians and land mafia have benefited, but the initial development benefited the bonafide residents. Burari is a recent example of such a phenomena, where the migrants have benefited the most.
Well, I think the Home Minister is definitely misinformed: The unauthorised colonies in Delhi are a boon for the bonafide residents, not criminals. BTW, the ninty-five percent of Delhi live in slums and these unauthorised colonies with a large proportion of migrant population in it, so, obviously, no less than ninty-five percent of crimes should also originate from these colonies. The Home Minister need not have retracted his statement; it is indeed a statement of fact; though no genius, except an evil genius, would make it at the first place.
©2010 Ankur Mutreja