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1,000 acres of prime Delhi land ripe for cheap housing and infra projects encroached by land sharks and squatters

SHARKS and squatters are eating up gram sabha lands across Delhi. It's a bleak story of how land worth at least ` 5,000 crore has been usurped by those who act with impunity.

While the government and the civic bodies struggle to identify land for developmental projects, the land mafia and grabbers have so far cornered more than 1,000 acres of village land in the national capital. There is an entrenched nexus between the grabbers and influential locals in the villages.

This came to light following an RTI response sought by Delhibased activist Rajhans Bansal. Government records show nearly 1,700 bighas or over 1,000 acres of gram sabha land has been encroached upon by locals and the realty mafia. Over the years, successive governments in Delhi have cited long- standing dispute with the Delhi Development Authority ( DDA) over ownership and unavailability of land as the reasons for poor developmental works. However, official records prove that the governments are themselves to be blamed for the sad state of affairs. Incidentally, the dispute among the land- owning agencies could have easily been avoided had the Delhi government managed to retrieve the land, a major chunk of which is situated in prime South and South East Delhi locations.

Details provided by the Deputy Commissioner's Office under the Right to Information Act show that 1,347 bighas of land has been encroached upon in South and South East Delhi alone. These include major locations like Chhatarpur, Bhati Mines, Fatehpur Beri, Maidan Garhi and Satbari that houses the sprawling farm houses of the rich and the influential.

According to officials, South and South East Delhi house 23 rural villages where encroachment is rampant. These areas include Neb Sarai, Aya Nagar village, Mithapur, Jaitpur, and Dera Mandi. As many as 230 bighas of land has been eaten into by land mafia in Bhati Mines, which is now home to several rich and powerful from the national Capital. Land grabbing in Delhi's villages is rampant despite the Supreme Court's clear-cut instructions to all states in India to get any land vacated from those who hold it illegally.

In a 2011 judgment, a division bench of the apex court had also decided to monitor the progress regularly. "The chief secretaries of all state governments and Union Territories are directed to take necessary steps for speedy eviction of village land. The court will monitor implementation of its directions," the court had said.

The RTI reply said only one FIR -- in East Delhi -- was filed against land grabbers.

Sources said land in these villages is priced between `25,000 and `50,000 per square yard. Arrival of Delhi Metro and commercialisation resulted in escalation of land price, attracting realtors and grabbers. The price of land varies due to its proximity to the Metro stations and commercially developed places. Locals alleged that the nexus between building mafia and authorities result in rampant encroachment of village land. "As these villages have been affected massively by farmhouses, land grabbing is common. Several influential people have also connived with the mafia by developing farmhouses on gram sabha land," said Praveen Bidhuri of Chhatarpur where 95 bighas have been illegally occupied.

Though the government carried out demolition drives to evict grabbers, these were reoccupied. What is appalling is almost 100 per cent of gram sabha land has been impinged upon in villages like Gadaipur, Dera village and Chhatarpur. Areas like Kishangarh, Ghitorni, Asola, Bhati and Jona Pur are other affected villages. Although the DDA in the past demolished a number of farm houses at these places, most of them were reconstructed. Delhi government's revenue department had carried out a similar exercise but in vain.

The gram sabha land is the common land in village communities that can only be used for benefit of villagers. The idea has been that this land shall protect the basic character of villages and it can be allotted to civic agencies, health, education and other departments of the Delhi government for public utility purposes. According to government records, nearly 150 bighas of land have been encroached upon in North West Delhi, while 160 bighas in East Delhi villages have met the same fate.

In North West Delhi, land grabbing is rampant in Nangloi Jat, Kirari, Katewara and Begumpur. Similarly, in East Delhi, grabbers have usurped land in Dallupura and Samaspur Jagir. Official sources said proximity to the IGI Airport and neighbouring Gurgaon put some South West Delhi areas at risk. However, they could not furnish details of the encroached land.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 27, 2015
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