NEW DELHI: In December 2019, the Centre launched the PM-UDAY scheme to give ownership rights to 4 million people living in unauthorized colonies in Delhi. Over two years later, residents of the Okhla Assembly constituency in East Delhi are expressing concern over the untimely delay in the registration process and the lack of public awareness in these unregistered colonies hampering the scheme.

The Pradhan Mantri Unauthorized Colonies in Delhi Awas Yojana (PM-UDAY) is a central government scheme that aims at conferring ownership rights to residents of 1,731 unauthorized colonies in the national capital. Residents of these colonies are eligible to get ownership and transfer rights to the land, as well as access to infrastructure and civic amenities under the scheme.

According to the Delhi Development Authority 87,275 property owners have applied for property rights under the PM-UDAY scheme. About 30,717 applications have been processed so far and 10,650 have received conveyance deeds or registration slips from 4.3 lakh residents registered on the scheme portal.

Faiz Khan (30) a resident of the Zakir Nagar area who is a social worker said, “The Centre’s regularization policy, which was implemented three years before, hasn’t shown much progress on the ground, as large sections living in these unauthorized colonies are not well-educated and do not have access to media. While some people have registered their properties, the long bureaucratic process and paperwork have hampered their registration as well, so there is a need to ease the method and process the applications in a time-bound manner.”

Another Batla House resident requesting anonymity alleged that the DDA had refused to register his property because he lives near the Yamuna river, which lies in a seismic zone. “This scheme is very beneficial for us but it should also be reviewed, that the ground survey officers who are discriminating in applications on a financial basis should also be scrutinised. Like some private GIS (Geographic Information System) agencies who came for the survey and documentation process, they refused to demarcate our land… Where will the poor man go?” he asked. “That is the problem.”

The Delhi Development Authority, which is the nodal agency and has launched a portal for registration under the PM-UDAY scheme, said that the online registration had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic as field surveys couldn’t be done during the lockdown. “We are accelerating the door-to-door campaign for awareness in different areas, advertising on radio and social media to raise awareness and invite more people to join the scheme,” a DDA official tweeted.

Farooq Ahmed (59) who lives in the narrow lanes of Abul Fazal Enclave in the Okhla constituency anticipates his colony will get basic amenities like paved roads, sanitisation, health care and good sewerage, after he gets ownership rights to his property. He said the government should start robust awareness campaigns to educate people and address their problems. “If the government wants us to benefit from this scheme, they should have sent their team and representative on the ground, and conducted awareness door-to-door campaigns in these unauthorized colonies, because everyone doesn’t read the newspaper and watch the news,” he explained.

Workers construct a building at Ghaffar Manzil in New Delhi (Monis Khan)

The DDA has impanelled seven GIS agencies including Ace Innovators, City Associates and Epacific Technologies authorising them to file registrations and carry out surveys and documentation, and has opened 29 help desks for facilitation work across Delhi.

Ahmed said, “We are not aware of this news. Many people living in our colony are not educated. We want the government to expedite the process and fix a time frame for clearing each step of the process.”

Sajid Khan (45) a bookseller who lives in an unregistered colony of Johri Farms in Jamia Nagar has not yet registered his property under the PM-UDAY scheme because of confusion and apprehension that he may lose his property rights. “It has been three years now but the government is in deep slumber, as many awareness camps were started by the DDA before the lockdown in 2020, and there is still a lack of awareness due to which the registration got derailed. The people want to get their property register so that they can access their transfer rights of land from this scheme. But the agencies conducting surveys also need to work very transparently and with some honesty.”

Requesting anonymity a DDA official countered, “Most people living in such areas around Delhi are mainly outsiders and without their consent, we can’t move forward which is one of the mandatory documents to get your property rights. They are not willing to get registered as they don’t have any basic legal documents to claim their power of attorney, mortgage, or transfer their land, which is why they don’t want to register their illegal property.”

Abdul Wajid Khan, the MCD councillor from Okhla, in response to a question emphasised the Delhi government’s efforts to make people aware of the scheme. Despite that, he added, some BJP members blame their government for its failure in implementation although it had no role in the central scheme.

“We were aware that the DDA had awareness camps in these areas, but they haven’t been effective in a long time. Many people in our ward complained that they did not get the reference number, which shows the negligence of the nodal agency. However, people want to get registered to avail the facilities and benefits of this scheme,” said Khan.

“It is the failure of the DDA that has made it a complex and difficult process. Even though I have registered to acquire possession of my property, I have not yet received the reference number,” the AAP councillor said.

Ghaffar Manzil, an unauthorised colony in New Delhi (Monis Khan)