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To own a home, irrespective of the size, is a dream cherished by many. I understand this sentiment and that is why I championed the cause to help protect the applicants who were promised homes and felt cheated by the Delhi government.
The collusive corruption of authorities and contractors is a common man's knowledge. Unauthorized colonies mushroomed in a lot of areas that went unchecked. The notices sent to owners in 2001, for the demolition of these buildings, were ignored. MCD failed to take action even after collecting money for it. The illegal tehbazari shops flourished in Lajpat Nagar, Kashmiri Gate and in areas across Red Fort. A few that were demolished or sealed soon set up business again by de-sealing or re-constructing them. Such indifference to the law was something that could not be ignored so I demanded the resignation of the MCD commissioner and also sought a CBI inquiry, fully aware that the BJP was in power. In 2003 when the Bulbuli Khana collapsed I reiterated the need for MCD to take concrete steps to keep in check the rise of these illegal colonies. In 2010 I publically raised an issue to understand the rationale behind increasing the circle rates from 13,800 to 86,000 when the property rates had gone up only marginally. With such high circle rates in Delhi it would be impossible for anyone from the low-income group to own a house or a plot.
This was not the first time I had fought for house owners. In 2003 I was approached by the residents of the slums in the Kabir Nagar and Kishore Nagar area. The power supply in these areas had been disconnected. I helped restore the power supply in these areas and ensured that the residents of these slums would not be displaced by any civic body or private agency until alternate arrangements for the availability of basic amenities were made.
Various reasons were cited by Congress, the then ruling party at the center and state, on the issue of regularization.Â In the previous elections Congress and Ajay Maken stressed on the need for RWA to spend on regularization, layout plans and service plans but the list of colonies could have only been made after the verdict from Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. Due to this difference between the center and the state the fate of 50 lakh residents of the unauthorized colonies was left in the balance. Â The residents of the Jhuggi-Jhopadis had to live without power or water supply. Chandni Chowk and Sadar areas saw erratic, 2-hour, water supply.
I suggested the 500 unauthorized colonies to be regularized in the 1977 pattern. But nothing was done by the Congress government for the regularization of the 1500 colonies. So I led a demonstration against the Delhi CM and sought her resignation for her failure to resolve the issue. I sought Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna's intervention and demanded the constitution of a high power inquiry committee to resolve the issue. I found, when I received a reply to the RTO I had filed, that the Urban Development Department had not authorized a single colony in the last 10 years.
Instead of resolving the issue, in the previous election, Delhi government came up with an idea of issuing Provisional Certificates to the residents of the illegal colonies for which the Residents' Welfare Association was made to spend several lakhs. To the woo the votes of the residents of the illegal colonies an event was organized in Ramlila Maidan where Mrs. Sonia GandhiÂ handed over these Provisional Certificates to the office bearers of the Residents' Welfare Association. I saw this whole event as a Lollipop-promise because the State and Central government could have regularized the unauthorized colonies only after the Supreme Court's permission. This speaks volumes about the real intention behind handing out the provisional certificates. This event, according to me, was just an election stunt as the certificates issued stated that they would only be accepted after the colonies have fulfilled the conditions of notifications sent on March 24th, 2008.Â So I led a massive rally against the event, with a tableau that read â€œSheila ka Lollipop, to Ramlila Maidan on Oct 4th, 2008. Our main accusation against the Delhi CM was that she had doled out false promises on regularization and the issue still remains pending.
I continued to fight for the JJ cluster dwellers even after the March '09 elections. Large number of residents from JJ protested against the attempts to displace them in the name of rehabilitation under the In-Situ model of development. This protest happened because I reminded the residents of a similar In-Situ Scheme by the Delhi Government in 2006 at Tehkhand, near Badarpur. They had promised to build over 3500 flats to be distributed to the economically weaker sections but then no flats were ever built.
One of the biggest demolition drive happened in February '06 due to the failure of the Delhi government to present the trading community's viewpoint. Drive began as part of implementing the court orders for the demolition of illegal commercial establishments. Several trade unions argued that the action would cause serious economic and social impact. They accused the government of not providing sufficient alternate space required for the shops and offices. I had to intervene at this stage as the government had not submitted the facts (supported by notifications) and mandates from the earlier master plans before the courts. I requested the authorities to suspend the sealing drive till the submission of T. Khanna Committee's report as it would cause major unemployment issue.Â I also warned the authorities that all the aggrieved traders and shop owners would organize a "Vyapar Bachao Sangharsh Yatra" till the demolitions stop. I led a large delegation to meet Mr. Advani to ask him to raise the demolition issue in the parliament. We requested him to get the center to convene a special parliamentary session to discuss the sealing issue to save the livelihood of lakhs of people.
With no response from the Sate or Union government against the sealing drive I began the "Jail Bharo Andolan" that began with demonstrations and rallies and ended in court-arrests and bandhs. We took the "Gandhigiri" way of protest and presented the Delhi CM with flowers stating that she would be in peace if she relieved us of the sealing issue. I urged the Union government to take this issue to the Supreme Court again and let the court appoint a "Monitoring Committee" to help the large number of affected traders. I followed this up by leading a delegation to meet Mr. Shivraj Patil, the then Union Home Minister, to discuss this sealing issue in the GoM (Group of Ministers) meeting. While the Urban Development Ministry continued to delay notifying on the new Master Plan for Delhi-2021 I setup another Janta Adalat to seek suggestions from the trading community on the sealing issue and forwarded the same to the Monitoring Committee.
But the Monitoring Committee's functioning style turned autocratic and it not pay any heed to the arguments or appeals of the residents and traders before sealing their shops. This forced me to lead a demonstration, with the BJP activists, against the Monitoring Committee. After all our agitations we got the Union government to issue a notification against the sealing drive. I urged all the people to de-seal their properties and not to wait for the officials. I asked the MCD and Delhi government to put up advertisements asking people to de-seal their own property.
The aim of setting up Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was to provide plots and houses to the poor who could not afford a lump-sum payment. But gradually the DDA started behaving like a private builder. They were earning heavy profits through auctioning of industrial and residential plots. With this only the rich could afford these properties and they were in turn selling these lands at even higher price. DDA earned crores in interest alone through this flat allotment scheme. Though the Delhi Police conducted an inquiry into the scam the officials never announced the inquiry results and certain officers were even transferred.
This was something I could not let go. I had to raise my voice for the 6,00,000 aggrieved householders. I did that through a series of demonstrations and rallies at various places. We demanded the resignation of the Union Minister Mr. Jaipal Reddy and of Mr. Ajay Maken for allowing DDA to work in the interest of the mall lobby and land mafia. The charges were vindicated when the Supreme Court censured DDA several times. The Delhi High Court in its verdict accused the DDA officers of behaving like property dealers.
I questioned DDA's decision to seek applications for the flats from across India. I demanded that the flats be sold to Delhi residents because these flats were built on the land acquired from the Delhi residents. The Urban Development Minister, Mr. Jaipal Reddy, had assured me that DDA flats were meant for all Indian citizens who were living in Delhi or held jobs here. But it was later clear that these flats were being purchased, as an investment, by people from outside of Delhi as they were cheaper than the market rate. If a survey was to be done to identify the number of flats owned by people from outside Delhi it would surely show them as a majority. That would mean that the Delhi residents would be forced to live in unauthorized colonies as the DDA flats would become unaffordable to them.
This issue arose again when the Delhi government came up with the "Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojana". The government promised to construct 50,000 houses for the poor but not a single jhuggi-jhopriwala was allotted a flat. When I demanded to see the list with the names of the people to whom these flats were allotted the Delhi government refrained from making the announcement or disclosing the location or the number of completed units.
I demanded that all government employees be allotted a house at least 10 years before they retire to be able own a house and lead a secured life post-retirement. I suggested the NCR Development Corporation be set up free from governmental pressure after the dissolution of the DDA.
One must appreciate how Vijay Goel is working so hard and looking out for all sports. One can feel the change. Best wishes!
Simply will appreciate Vijay Goel's working style, witnessed his personal attention to west Delhi - Paschim Vihar ppl even at late hours.
No cricket with Pak until terrorism stops, says sports minister Vijay Goel Finally! Kudos for a much needed call!
Vijay Goel is a national leader with wider vision and worked on the ground in Delhi.