10th July 2013
In a directive bringing much relief to farmhouse owners in South and South-West Delhi, the office of the Lt. Governor of Delhi has written to the Divisional Commissioner of the Delhi Government requesting not to initiate penal action against those farmhouses which are eligible for regularization under notification issued on October 31, 2012. The farmhouses eligible for approval under the new farmhouse policy which is expected to be notified soon would also be exempted.
In a letter written to the Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) by Devinder Singh, Special Secretary to the L-G, the office has expressly stated that no punitive action should be taken under the provisions of Delhi Land Reforms Act, 1954, in areas where existing farmhouses will be regularised or where farmhouses with one acre norms will be permitted under the new farmhouse policy, approved by the Delhi Development Authority.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had issued a notification for regularisation of 1,500 farmhouses, which had previously been found flouting the norms under Section 81 of the Delhi Land Reforms Act, in the name of country homes on October 30, 2012, trying to take advantage of the New farmhouse policy that allows for new country homes on minimum plot area of one acre. Country homes have been defined as special low density residential plots.
However, Delhi Government’s Revenue Department had issued notices to such farmhouses asking why action should not be taken against them for flouting norms under Section 81 of the DLR Act, including some belonging to top politicians like Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, former Union Minister K Natwar Singh, Sardar Balwant Singh, MK Subba, Romesh Sharma, Jagat Singh and former Rajya Sabha MP RK Anand
These notices provides for ejection of the allottees for violation of land-use norms. Under this provision, the land on which the farmhouses have been built can be used only for agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture and poultry farming.
According to an estimate, there are over 2,700 farmhouses in Delhi, with a minimum size of 2.5 acres. Some of them are as large as 5-7 acres. Similar notices were issued to farmhouse owners in 2003 and majority of them did not reply to the department. Experts believe that even though the action was put in cold storage due to political and bureaucratic pressures then, the scenario has changed this time around. Mr. Ramesh Menon of Certes Realty Ltd says, “The Revenue Department has more incentive this time around to take action against non-compliant Delhi farmhouse owners. As per the new directive, leeway has already been given in the form of the New Farmhouse policy. Anyone in the grey after that would have only themselves to blame. The government has been considerate enough. But in my opinion, it would still take a little more time to get all of them regularized. Operations of this scale take some time to complete.”
It is a known fact that a large number of politicians and corporate bigwigs have farmhouses in South Delhi and in some cases corporate houses are running their businesses from these houses which had been allotted especially for farming and agricultural purposes.