New Delhi: The process to give ownership rights to nearly 40 lakh residents living in 1,731 illegal colonies spread across Delhi under the PM-UDAY (Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi Awas Adhikar Yojana) has been put on the fast track as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has already uploaded maps of 900 colonies. The DDA has also set up 50 helpdesks to facilitate people in getting their property rights for the first time.

Ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, the move to grant legal property rights to lakhs of residents of Delhi’s illegal colonies has made such residents happy. The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019 was presented by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on 28 November; it was later passed by the Lok Sabha and now the bill is awaiting the President’s nod. Registration is likely to start on Monday.

A senior DDA official told The Sunday Guardian: “We have set up 50 helpdesks through which DDA officials will help these residents in availing property legal rights. The helpdesks set up at various locations, including Dwarka, Karkardooma, Vasant Kunj, Azadpur and Mundka, will address the queries of the residents and facilitate all necessary assistance to applicants. A list containing the full information about these helpdesks has been uploaded on the DDA’s new website. Also, at the DDA, we are working hard to finish the map uploading work and currently, we have updated 900 maps. We expect that by 16 December, we will complete this task.”

“Earlier, we launched a portal seeking suggestions from RWA presidents, on boundary delineation of unauthorised colonies and the response had been overwhelming. DDA is looking in to all the suggestions and it will accommodate them in deciding the boundary delineation process,” the same official cited above said.

As per the provisions of the regularisation bill, the ownership rights will be given on the basis of power of attorney, agreement of sale, will, possession letter or any other documents, including papers pertaining to payment made at the time of purchase. For getting the legal rights in these colonies, property owners will have to pay the stamp duty and registration charges on the amount that is mentioned in the original conveyance deed.

Legal experts say that the unauthorised colonies located in Anant Ram Dairy, Mahendru Enclave and Sainik Farms will not be benefitted from the land ownership rights as the bill explicitly says that properties developed on a forest land, ridge, and the Yamuna floodplains or those within a restricted zone near monuments preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, are out the preview of this bill.

Swaroop Kumar Mehra, a former civil Chartered Engineer who served at various urban planning boards across India, said: “The bill may prove to be a poll gimmick if it doesn’t respond to few basic questions. The bill was introduced in a hurry and giving property rights to 40 lakh residents living in nearly less than 20,000 illegal colonies is not an easy task. This bill doesn’t ensure prevention of further expansion of illegal colonies, albeit it will encourage the act. Also, I don’t think there is any development plan for these colonies and in such a situation, legalisation will cause more problem.”

Meanwhile, many residents have raised doubts whether the regularisation process will be completed soon. According to them, there is a possibility that the schedule of the Delhi Assembly polls may come by the end of the month and the model code of conduct will come into effect and, thus, the regularisation process will be stopped.

Political observers suggest that the move could prove to be a game-changer for the BJP in Delhi’s upcoming Assembly polls. The residents living in these colonies may come to vote in favour of BJP candidates, with the hope that the Centre would award them and oblige them property rights in return.