Punjab still grappling with illegal housing colonies

Courtesy: Representative Image/TOI

CHANDIGARH: Even as the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority is in the process of finalizing a housing policy, the state currently has 1,565 illegal colonies. As per a report compiled by the housing and urban development department, a total of 3,324 applications for regularization of unauthorized colonies were received and out of these over half have been disposed of despite a change in policy.

Similarly, there are as many as 17,004 unauthorized buildings/plots in the state that have not been approved. This figure remains even after disposing of 1, 36,856 applications over the past few years for individual buildings.

Amritsar Development Authority (ADA) has the highest number of pending applications of unauthorised colonies under it at 335, while Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) has 113 and Greater Mohali Area Development authority (GMADA) has 255.

Almost all key political parties had made promises about unauthorised colonies in their poll manifestos. Congress had assured regularisation of all unauthorized colonies on or before March 31, 2013 or houses, plots, shops, factories till date on “as is where basis is.”. Similarly, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had promised that “unauthorized colonies will be regularised, provided all basic facilities including sewerage within a mandated period.”

Earlier, a detailed survey conducted to identify unauthorized colonies in the State, identified 5,340 colonies which have come up on about 20,600 acres of land in various cities and towns. Although as per the number of applications received under the previous policies, the number of unauthorized colonies was 10,154 with an approximate area of 40,000 acres.

The policy for regularisation of plots and colonies has been framed twice in the past in 2013 and 2014. In December 2016, Punjab government had issued the notification to local authorities for regularization of illegal colonies and plots under them for one month, from December 15 to January 15. After January 15, the local authorities charged three times the compounding charge for six months after which the development charges will be raised by 15% for another six months.

The composition for unauthorized colonies set up before August 17, 2007 was fixed at a minimum of Rs 50,000 and a maximum of Rs 2 lakh per acre. Colonies established after August 17, 2007 will be minimum of Rs 5 lakh and maximum of Rs 10 lakh per acre.

An official said that people in these colonies have not been provided with basic amenities like water supply, sewerage and adequate roads. Compounding of offence of developing un-authorized colony is one aspect of the problem while the other is to make provisions of basic facilities and amenities for the residents who have built houses in these colonies or have purchased land/plots for housing purposes.

Source: Times of India