Policy confusion hits farmhouses

New Delhi: There are more than 4,000 farmhouses in Delhi, but in the three years since a policy was first made to regularize them, less than 250 have made the cut. It’s yet another example of how the provisions of Master Plan for Delhi-2021 have failed to benefit people.

Today, thousands of farmhouse owners are waiting for clarifications on the rules for sanctioning and regularizing their property. In 2012, the government made a regularization policy under which farmhouses could get legal status by paying charges to the corporations. “But the norms required people to leave setbacks, which was not possible as construction had already taken place. We want farmhouses to be regularized on as-is-where-is basis,” said Rajiv Ghai, honorary secretary of Pushpanjali Farm Owners’ and Residents’ Association.

In December 2014, the Union urban development ministry abruptly suspended the old policy and two months later implemented a new one for low-density residential areas (LDRA) that had easier norms. The new policy had been notified in June 2013 and applies to 70 villages, of which 47 are in green belts and 23 in rural areas like Chhatarpur, Rajokri, Bijwasan, Chhawla, Khanpur, Ghuman Hera, etc. Till date no plan has been sanctioned under it. While the floor area ratio (FAR) in Lutyens’ Delhi is 15, it is 30 in LDRA areas and three dwelling units are allowed on a one-acre plot. Norms for setback and road width have also been relaxed. “This policy is people-friendly, but it is against the basic concept of low density. Three dwelling units on a one-acre plot will increase density,” said a South Corporation official, adding that a road width of six metres would slow down rescue operations after a calamity.” Sources said the corporations have taken up the matter with Delhi Development Authority. Operational guidelines to implement the policy are another hurdle.

Corporation officials say DDA is yet to clarify whether the existing farmhouses can be approved. At present, only the regularized farmhouses can benefit from the LDRA scheme. Under it, the FAR is 30, of which 20 is free. But the older farmhouse policy allowed a free FAR of five. “It is an enormous difference. We can’t proceed without clarity on the issue. Also, if regularization is done, people will have to modify their farmhouses to apply for LDRA,” said a senior corporation official. Farmhouse owners are confused. “The issue has been pending for almost a decade. Now, we want some clarity on it so that we can live without any problem,” said Harish Juneja, senior vice-president of Chhatarpur Farms Welfare Society. There is also no clarity on the fate of farmhouses built between 2007 and 2014. When MDP-2021 was revised, the government notified 70 villages where LDRA would be applicable. Most of these are heavily built up. Officials say people will not demolish and rebuild their homes or the ancillary buildings like staff quarters or generator rooms. “These are essential services, we can’t demolish our property,” said Ghai.

Source: Times of India
Dated: 6th September 2015

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