Farmhouses await new policy

NEW DELHI: It has been about four months since the urban development ministry put the farmhouse regularization policy on hold. About a couple of months after it decided to extend the deadline for regularization of these structures to March 2015, the ministry issued an order pausing the implementation of the policy that let farmhouses which hadn’t been regularized so far approach authorities with their applications. This means that thousands of farmhouse constructions, which have overshot the stipulated limit of 30% constructed area, are technically unauthorized and at mercy of authorities.

There are 4,000-5,000 farmhouses in the capital. According to sources, only 400-500, or a mere 10% of them, have applied for regularization. The urban development ministry had paused the regularization, saying DDA will come up with a new rule that will relax several criteria and make application for regularization easier. However, no new policy has been introduced over the last four months. DDA’s next board meeting is on April 1 and, according to sources, regularization of farmhouse policy isn’t on the agenda.

Some farmhouse owners say that policies are being withheld deliberately. “The government has been dangling a sword over our heads. All this has happened earlier, we were told that the current policy is impractical and contradictory, after which it’s withdrawn. But no new policy has been introduced or any exemption given to us,” said a farmhouse owner.

According to the owner, who did not wish to be named, farmhouse owners were told that the policy was being revoked because of confusion over what exactly makes up the Ridge Area. Since the Ridge is a protected area, private constructions cannot be allowed here. Another farmhouse owner said that the urban development ministry had asked the forest department to define forest and Ridge area, in which all farmhouse constructions would be considered illegal. “We’re told the matter is now pending with the revenue department since the forest department couldn’t do this job. Now we’ve got no option but to wait for reports of the revenue department,” he said.

The civic agencies had first introduced an amnesty scheme to regularize farmhouses in September 2013. The scheme was to end on September 30, 2014, but the urban development ministry first extended it till March 31, 2015, and then halted it in November. Farmhouse owners say, due to stringent clauses and exorbitant conversion rates, most people were unable to avail the benefits of this regularization scheme. They say there are several lacunae in the last policy. Though the policy was notified in 2013, it allows regularization of constructions till February 2007. Another clause bothering the farmhouse owners is the conversion cost. For any construction on the land, owners have to pay a minimum of Rs 63 lakh per hectare.

Source: Times of India
Dated: 30th March 2015

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