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  • Patiala land scam: Vigilance yet to get nod for probe

    Tribune News Service

    Patiala, June 8

    Despite a high-level vigilance inquiry recommended by Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia and later ordered by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a land scam in which former Patiala Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg and five officials of the Revenue Department were suspended for alleged irregularities in the sale of government land in October 2011, the Vigilance Bureau is yet to start the probe.

    On May 8, the Chief Minister had ordered a vigilance inquiry under the personal supervision of DGP (Vigilance) Suresh Arora. He had ordered that the probe be completed within a month and the Public Relations Department had officially shot a note in this regard.

    Despite recommendation of the Chief Minister about the vigilance inquiry, the Home Department is yet to sanction the file for necessary action to the Vigilance Department almost a month after the CM ordered the probe, said a source. “Till date, there is no probe that is being conducted by any officer in the high profile land scam, as there are no written instructions passed in this regard,” he said.

    Those suspended include former Patiala DC Vikas Garg, district revenue officer Rajbir Singh (under transfer), tehsildar AS Thind, naib tehsildar GS Walia, kanungo Priitpal Singh and patwari Suresh Kumar. These officials will face departmental action. Since they have different appointing authorities, joint proceedings will be conducted in the case. Former Patiala Divisional Commissioner GS Grewal has since retired and his role will be ascertained by the Vigilance probe.

    Initially, irregularities in the sale of government land measuring about 6,000 square yards and valued at Rs 250 crore were pointed out by Patiala’s Divisional Commissioner SR Ladhar. The matter was then investigated by Financial Commissioner (Revenue) Navreet Singh Kang. Later, Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia had the matter reviewed and recommended the vigilance probe.

    Senior officers in the Vigilance Bureau said there were no written orders with the VB to start an inquiry. “As per norms, the Home Department has to sanction a written order to start probe and once the VB director receives the recommendation, a formal probe will be initiated”, they said.

    An official spokesman of the Vigilance Bureau confirmed that no probe had been started, as there was no file sent to the department in the Patiala land scam. “Once we receive the file, we will start the probe. We have no knowledge on this”, he stated.
  • Will change city skyline in 3 years: Sukhbir

    To impress the voters, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal stated today that Ludhiana will be a different city altogether and the deadline for the same is three years only. Sukhbir was addressing election rallies in support of various Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidates in ward numbers 54, 56, 63 and a few more areas. “I never make any commitment without making all the arrangements. So now the residents should start looking at the all-round development of the city,” he said. “Projects will now start flowing to this city.”

    He announced that his dream project expressway would now be extended till Ropar. Earlier, it was to be completed till Doraha only.

    He added that the four-laning of Ferozepur Road will make the drive to Moga of less than half an hour and much more is in store for the city. Sukhbir Badal asked the residents to vote for the ruling alliance candidates.

    “The development works start at a better pace when the chosen candidate is from the ruling alliance,” he clarified. “So the people need to be wise enough in giving their votes if they want record urban development by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.”

    Sukhbir Badal has been campaigning for party candidates for the past two days.

    62 booths are ‘very sensitive’

    In the Municipal Corporation elections scheduled on June 10, 62 out the total of 964 booths have been termed hyper-sensitive and 193 as sensitive. Confirming this, ADC(D) Rishipal Singh said, “We have made adequate arrangements for the booths.”

    Apart from the list available with the administration, even political parties have also made their own list of sensitive and hyper-sensitive wards and have sent the same to the police and the state election commissioner as well.

    District Congress President Pawan Dewan said, “We have written to the state election commission to depute paramilitary forces in the wards 1, 2, 6, 10, 28, 41, 42, 48, 50, 61, 62, 63, 65 and 72 because we have apprehensions of tension in these areas.”

    The BJP too submitted a list to the police commissioner and it mentions that extra police forces need to be deputed to some booths of ward numbers 17, 19, 20, 21, the whole of ward 22, 50, 40, 32 and 36, and a few booths in ward 24, 30, 31, 49 and 51.

    District BJP President Parveen Bansal said that extra police forces need to be appointed to these wards.

    Will change city skyline in 3 years: Sukhbir - Indian Express
  • Withdrawal syndrome

    Rentals had soared significantly while the work on the refinery project was in progress. But these have nosedived now following completion of the project and the consequent exodus of the workforce

    The realty scene in Bathinda has been on a roller-coaster ride, thanks to the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery project. While it was the launch of this ambitious project that fuelled a boom in the property market four years ago, now it is the completion of the project that has sent the realty wagon hurtling down giving nightmares to all the stakeholders.

    While infrastructure and development projects are considered beneficial for the health of the realty sector in any area as they lead to price appreciation of residential as well as commercial properties and high rental returns, Bathinda is witnessing a reverse trend at present. The residential rentals in Bathinda city, areas of Raman Mandi, Talwandi Sabo and Dabwali have nosedived post the commissioning of the refinery. House rents in these areas have gone down by more than 30 to 35 per cent over the past six months. Earlier, a 2 BHK rented accommodation on second floor in Bathinda city would fetch Rs 10, 000. But with the refinery employees shifting to their newly constructed colony within the commercial establishment's campus at Raman and many others leaving after the completion of the project, no one is ready to pay such a high rent.

    In 2008, when refinery's construction was in full swing, a huge army of workers and their families migrated to Bathinda. There were at least 120 big and small contractors working for on the project with almost 32,000 employees, who needed space to stay in Bathinda. Employees of several big contractors like Larsen and Toubro lived in rented accommodations as the colony in refinery was meant only for the HMEL (HPCL-Mittal Energy Limited) employees. Rentals in the area zoomed as these executives could afford to pay high rent. Most of them preferred areas like Model Town I, Model town II, Model Town III, Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Bhagu road, Patel Nagar, Kamla Nehru Colony, Panchvati Nagar, Green Avenue, Veer Colony and others and house owners were paid the desired amount as rent. As most of these 'imported' employees preferred planned areas of Model Town I, II and III, even the property rates in these localities soared to Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per sq yd.

    Riding high on the refinery-propelled economy, many people took loans from the banks and added more floors to their houses in order to cash in on the need for accommodation here. “More floors mean more space to cater to the massive demand for rental accommodation. In many cases, locals even sold their ancestral land and valuables to add more storeys to their houses and rent them out”, reminisces Surinder Singh, a resident of Model Town Phase I, who refused to flow with the tide and never gave his property on rent.

    This high tide of rentals continued for four years - from 2008 to 2011- and the locales reaped rich dividends. But now most of the accommodations lie vacant as there are very few takers. "While the urbanites took loans, people living in areas like Raman Mandi used their life's savings to build more houses in the hope of getting a good rental income. The move has, however, backfired as there are no tenants left to pay such high rents. Situation is pitiable for those who had made rent their sole sources of income," says Ram Babu, a local property advisor. Those who had taken home loans to construct more floors are the worst sufferers as they are left with no rental income and hefty EMIs to repay the loans.

    "Some owners have lowered the rents now, but still these are not at the level where local people can afford them. Rental value will be getting a significant correction in the area," says another property advisor Yogesh Bunty. The only genuine tenants left behind now are the people from the nearby villages who have come to city for the education of their children. Being locals, they are well aware of the genuine rents and hence refuse to pay the exorbitant rents being demanded by owners.

    It is not the realty scene alone that is suffering the "withdrawal syndrome" after the exit of a huge temporary population with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the social fabric of the area has also been left grappling with a void. Commenting on the social impact of refinery employees' and their families leaving the city, Aman Singh from Model Town Phase II said, “The refinery employees belonged to different ethnic backgrounds and brought cosmopolitan culture with them. This not only enriched the city's culture but also gave the much needed exposure to the people of Bathinda”. He also observed that the families of refinery employees who were living in rented accommodations here were good company for the lonely widows and the elderly whose children have migrated abroad. “Such families are now left alone”, he added.

    Dull scene

    The refinery township has 200 flats and around 120 villas. While there are around 525 persons living in flats, there are 119 families putting up at villas. The Millennium School, situated within the refinery premises has primary classes only. As a result of this many families with older kids are still staying in the city. The HMEL plans to add phase II to the existing township at the place where the inaugural ceremony of the refinery was conducted.

    Companies change strategy

    The companies have also grown wiser now. Instead of paying high HRA, employees (who don't have families or are unmarried) are being asked to stay in city hotels. Hotel Country Inn in Mittal Mall and Hotel Sepal are two such hotels in the city that have officers and employees of HMEL as well as Sterlite Energy Limited (SEL) of the Vedanta Group, which is constructing thermal power plant at Talwandi Sabo, taking rooms on rent. A Country Inn spokesperson said that SEL has a tie up at the administrative level and the employees stay at the hotel for short-duration stints.

    No new projects

    With the SAD-BJP coming back to power, the prices of property have become stagnant. In the previous tenure of the party from 2007 to 2012, Bathinda witnessed a boom in the property sector and an influx of new private colonies that offered planned housing solutions. These colonies included Sheesh Mahal, Ansal Mittal Sushant City I near village Jassi Pau Wali and Sushant City II near village Kotshamir, Pearls Colony, HBN Colony and Ganpati Enclave. While these colonies are doing fairly well there are no new private projects lined up at present so the realty market is dull and stagnant at present.

  • Green bridges' project waits for no-objection certificate

    LUDHIANA: Officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) claim that the project to construct green bridges for cleaning up Buddha Nullah will be completed in one year. However, the private agency handling the project is still waiting for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the drainage department. The agency, Green Infrastructure, is also struggling to continue work because of the heaps of garbage scattered on both sides of the drain.

    On Friday, principal secretary of science and technology Karan Avtar Singh visited the city and called a meeting of all departments connected to the project to discuss issues that are posing a hurdle in it.

    Green Infrastructure, the agency handling the project, will construct five bridges on the drain near Khera Bet village where Buddha Nullah water joins the Satluj River. However, the agency is waiting for an NOC from drainage department to ensure that the drain does not overflow during monsoons after the green bridges are constructed.

    Once these bridges are in place, direct discharge of domestic sewerage will not be released into the drain and only rain water will pass through it.

    The discharge from sewerage treatment plants will also be diverted.

    Green bridges' project waits for no-objection certificate - The Times of India
  • Eco city famers land pooling scheme

    Translation: GMADA has still not taken out the draw of Ecocity land polling scheme farmers. Even though the land prices in the area have doubled in value (as stated), GMADA earned money for itself by cutting plots and selling them but farmers have been left in lurch.
  • Punjab plans to check depleting water table

    CHANDIGARH: Punjab government has framed a comprehensive plan to check the decreasing water table and contamination of natural water resources in the state.

    Under the plan, various departments would closely coordinate for framing a joint policy.

    Department of irrigation, education, local bodies, agriculture, industries and pollution control board, would jointly work to preserve the natural water resources, to check the contamination of water and to sensitize farmers about the judicious use of ground water.

    State education department has been requested to introduce courses in school curriculum to educate the new generation about the importance of water and its astute use.

    According to chief parliamentary secretary, irrigation, Sohan Singh Thandal, the situation in Punjab has come to an alarming stage due to depleting water table.

    He said that out of 130 Blocks 100 Blocks has been enlisted in the Dark Zone. Rich uranium contents were present in the sub-soil water of most Blocks of Malwa region, which rendered the ground water unfit for human consumption.

    The departments would jointly frame a policy for effective implementation for rain water harvesting, preservation of natural water resources, judicious use of underground, canal and river water for irrigation and to check the contamination of water by industrial units.

    Besides this, the irrigation department has decided to conduct weekly awareness camps at the district level to educate the farmers and general public about the scarcity of water and its rational and judicious use.

    Punjab plans to check depleting water table - The Times of India
  • Investors edged out

    The first half of 2012 has seen the realty sector in the holy city of Amritsar in the 'cooling off' phase. The property prices in the city, which is the main pilgrimage centre of Sikhs, have not shown much movement over the past one year, largely reflecting the "slow" trend being witnessed elsewhere in the state. One main indicator of a slack market is the reluctance on the part of investors to enter it, as Sanjay Joshi, the marketing head of a leading coloniser in the city, says, "In the current lean times due to downturn in the economy, very few people are coming forward to buy apartments and plots even of the smaller dimensions".

    In fact, a number of investors exited the realty scene here in the first quarter of the year as the prices had seen a correction in the period before the Assembly elections in the state and after the Akali government came back in power. With the exit of investors, the market now is largely end-user driven and is stabilising fast.

    With the property prices across the district stablising, now only the genuine customers are being wooed by the colonisers. While the price per square yard in upscale areas like Mall Road, Green Avenue, Basant Avenue is in the range of Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 and between Rs 35,000 and 45,000 in Ranjit Avenue, in areas on Fatehgarh Churian Road these are between Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000. The current rate of land in approved colonies on GT Road is between Rs 9,000 and Rs 14,000 per sq yd and in Loharka Road it is between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,500.

    The buyer, however, is moving cautiously as just a handful of PUDA-approved colonies, including SG Enclave, SG Heights, Dream City, Impact Gardens, Oasis Green Acres, Holy City, Splendor May Fair and Vrindaban are there to attract the customers in view of their customised facilities. This has given them an edge over partially approved colonies in the city.

    Preference for a better lifestyle

    People from different economic strata have shown keen interest to settle down in new developed colonies with proper infrastructure. This has led to a gradual increase in the number of people from the congested area within the walled city, who are buying plots and flats in these colonies on the city periphery. "This is a very positive sign for the realty scene in the city", says Micheal Uppal, a city-based broker.

    Krishan Kumar Kuku, who has been involved in developing a number of residential avenues, says now the trend among the people of the city is to move to well-planned, spacious, cleaner and greener colonies having a modern infrastructure for better and high-end lifestyle. This has given a major boost to the developers who had seen some dip in the land prices till last year and now only the actual buyer is looking to build new houses with better and modern facilities in these colonies.

    Rajan Gill, promoter of Blessings City on the Airport road adjacent to Radisson Blu Hotel, said that with the leveling of land prices in this area, the real end user is coming forward to buy plots and flats because of the better living conditions being provided by them. He said the land price in Blessings City is about Rs10,000 to 12,000 per square yard and they have already sold off a large chunk of plots and many of the buyers have started construction of houses there now.

    A significant number of cash-rich farmers from the rural and border belt are also moving into these newly developed colonies. This segment of buyers has added a new dimension and the colonisers hope that this clientele will help sustain their growth in the coming years.

    Change in selling strategy

    With end users driving the market, the colonisers, too, have changed their strategy to sell their products. More and more of them are now laying stress on the facilities being offered in these colonies rather than the promise of a significant appreciation in the prices over the next couple of years. A number of colonies along the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of the GT Road like Metcalfe Nirvana City, Ansal City, Dream City and others are luring buyers living in congested areas with a better lifestyle and greener ambience. Some of the developers are offering facilities like round-the-clock security, power backup, water supply apart from membership of health, sports and social clubs to attract the buyers.

    No risk takers

    Meanwhile, the unauthorised colonies with little development have found very limited response as the investors as well as the end users are not very keen to finalise any deal here in spite of the low land rates. While the end users want to stay out of troubled waters as these projects can lead to delay in possession or penalities and even scrapping of the projects later, the investors, too, are not ready to park in their funds here as the prices have been stagnating as it is over the past 18 months or so and there is no hope of making a quick profit by exiting in 12-24 months. The authorities, too, have recently tightened the noose on the unauthorised colonies.

    Commercial low tide

    The commercial properties in the city are really worst off as there are no buyers or big retail chains are ready to hire them. Large number of such buildings have remained partially occupied with big chunk of built up areas are lying unused due to lack of interest by the companies and retail outlet.

    The opening of Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the Border town of Attari, which was inaugurated in April this year and promised to be a gateway to Pakistan, Afganistan, CIS countries and in the middle east, has failed to enthuse the business community to set up their base in the city in view of good business opportunities. Although large business and corporate houses are exporting their goods, including soyabean, cotton, fresh fruits and vegetables besides importing a few items from Pakistan, the big time business is yet to pick up momentum due to the hesitation on the part of our neighbour to clear the negative list and substitute it with positive list and give India the most-favoured nation status.

    A manager with a leading builder from Delhi said some of the buildings, especially in the periphery of the city, have remained totally vacant as there are no takers. This has proved to be a major dampener for the commercial real estate segment in the city.

    Market drivers

    Villas and flats under construction in Blessings City project

    The realty sector in Amritsar has always got a boost from the large number of NRI Punjabis and Sikhs settled in other parts of the country. More than 50,000 people visit and offer prayers at the Harmandar Sahib every day and the number is much more on the weekends and during the festival season. This along with the Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport becoming operational the number of NRIs and devotees from other parts of the country is going to increase substantially and so will the demand for residential space as many would prefer to have a place of their own for their regular visits to the city.

    No wonder then that a majority of products in residential market are designed as per their needs as developers go all out to woo them. So right from serviced studio apartments, apartments to independent floors, villas and extendable villas are on offer for this target segment. The recent fall in the rupee value has also raised the hopes of builders that more NRIs would be interested in buying property in the city. A number of colonisers have put up hoardings, kiosks right at the airport and literature about different products is available there to lure them to invest in the city.

    There are many like Dr. R.S.Riar from Toronto, who have bought homes in the city. . Dr. Riar and his wife, who have bought a home in the newly developed township, Manawala on the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of the GT Road, are very enthusiastic about their dream of settling down in the city and to regularly visit the Holy shrine. Similarly a large segment of people especially settled in the UK, Canada, USA and other countries are constantly enquiring about residential projects in the city. This has motivated many colonisers to organise customers' meet in Canada and London where more than 100 families have shown keen interest in buying homes and even in commercial space in Amritsar.

  • Unauthorised colonies won’t be allowed to come up: Minister


    Sangrur, June 17

    Punjab Local Government Minister Bhagat Chunni Lal has announced that a policy pertaining to the unauthorised colonies is being prepared and all those involved in carving out such colonies will be taken to task.

    Addressing a rally organised by the local unit of the BJP here today, the Minister said the policy would ensure that no unauthorised colony comes up in future. He said the state government had taken a very serious view of mushrooming of unauthorised colonies in several districts of the state.

    “The unauthorised colonies lead to haphazard development and also spoil the aesthetic look of cities. The state government has also initiated steps to make people aware as how to ensure that the proposed colony is authorised or not,” said the Minister.

    “Instructions have been issued to the district administrations to initiate necessary steps to make people aware, so that no one gets into the trap of developers of unauthorised colonies”, he said.

    After taking over the reigns of the state for the second consecutive time, the SAD-BJP government had made it clear that stringent measures would be taken against unauthorised colonies in the state. In May, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced a survey of the entire state to ascertain the total number of illegal colonies.

    Elaborating upon the steps being taken to spread awareness among the masses about unauthorised colonies, the Minister said, “Hoardings are being put up alongside authorised colonies in the state, whereas the developers/owners of the unauthorised colonies are being issued notices and necessary action will be taken against the erring developers, who dupe people.”

    To a media query whether the state government was contemplating to regularise unauthorised colonies, the Minister said only the Punjab Cabinet could take a decision in this regard.
  • Punjab Infrastructure Development Board's delay holds up Rs 40 crore railway overbridge project

    JALANDHAR: Amid tall claims about adequate funds for infrastructure development, a Rs 40-crore project of road overbridge on railway crossing near Science City on Jalandhar-Kapurthala road has hit a roadblock.

    While railways has already started work for constructing the span of bridge over its track, Punjab PWD has not even invited tenders for allotting the project yet.

    Sources revealed that PWD did not invite tenders as Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), which is to provide funds for the project, is yet to give green signal for the project due to paucity of funds.

    Railway sources said that this lack of synchronization between railways and Punjab government agencies would have long term ramifications for the project and can even delay the project and escalate its cost, apart from inconvenience to public.

    Engineers of PWD and railways revealed that for any project of ROB on a railway line, the work should be first started by PWD, which has to provide alternate passages before beginning the project, and railways has also to block the crossing for executing the project.

    "Pile testing for erecting the pillars of the bridge has already started and after some time, we need to block the crossing. But before that, Punjab government agencies should provide alternate passages. Any delay in this would force us to give extension to the contractor, which would result in cost escalation. This would complicate the entire exercise and the project can witness several technical and financial troubles," said a senior railway official.

    "We held joint meetings with PWD and it was recorded in writing that they will invite tenders in September and we in November and work on diversions would start in December. We went as per these decisions and commitments, but now we find ourselves in a piquant situation," he added.

    PIDB managing director Anurag Aggarwal said that some drawings were yet to be finalized. Asked about the financial reasons, he held that a call on that had to be taken by the executive committee of the board and that he could tell only about the drawings issue.

    However, his explanation apparently flies in the face of facts revealed by Punjab government and railway officials. "Several meetings were held between PWD and railway engineers at senior levels and after working out all technical details like complete design, type of pillars, length of spans, etc., the project cost is worked out. After preparing and agreeing on final drawings, the matter goes to Railway Board which then approves it and work starts," said a state government official.

    Punjab Infrastructure Development Board's delay holds up Rs 40 crore railway overbridge project - The Times of India
  • Water shortage hits city; power cuts add to woes

    Unscheduled power cuts in domestic areas have not only irked consumers but at the same time have also resulted in acute water shortage in many parts of the city. The repeated tripping of the system is resulting in a fault in the tubewell motors which is making many areas face water shortage. In ward number 59, the water shortage problem has been faced for more than a month. Regular faults in the tubewell motors of Jawaddi village and Punjab Mata Nagar are being reported.

    Water tankers are also being sent to the village. However, on Friday a new motor was replaced with the faulty one in Jawaddi. The villagers are feeling so relieved that they distributed sweet yellow rice. Gurvinder Singh, a villager said, “We are making the water gods happy so that we don’t face any more trouble this season. Staying without water and power is really difficult.”

    A similar problem of faulty tubewell motors has also been reported in the old city area of the Sabzi Mandi Area. A water shortage has also been reported at the Rahon Road colonies. Kamlesh Bansal, the superintending engineer of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Cell, said, “We have detected faulty tube well motors at about eight tubewells and our teams are on the job to repair them. Dry weather followed by power cuts is the main reason. The repeated power cuts are leading to voltage fluctuations which are damaging our motors.”

    Meanwhile, the residents stated that the Municipal Corporation (MC) tube well operators are not changing the timings of water supply as per the power cuts, which is adding to their problems. The civic authorities have a valid excuse as they say that cuts are too frequent and staggered throughout the day that they are not able to access the actual time of power cuts. Bansal said, “Still, the councillors are making adjustments at the local level in the areas.”

    Water shortage hits city; power cuts add to woes - Indian Express
  • State of realty: Unapproved mess in doaba

    Who cares about illegal colonies?

    Jalandhar — heart of the Doaba region and considered to be the central point of Punjab — has emerged as a haven for 'illegal' colonisers who have come out with hundreds of colonies in the city and its periphery.

    The presence of almost 300 unapproved colonies within the municipal limits shows how deep rooted this trend is in this district. Apart from this dozens of illegal colonies greet one on the city outskirts where, builders have carved out such colonies throwing all norms and specifications to the winds due to their powerful lobby and political clout. While the worst part of the illegal growth of colonies is that it drains financial resources meant for the city, these colonisers virtually dupe gullible buyers by making tall promises.

    Modus operandi

    The modus-operandi of this lobby, however, is very simple. They purchase a piece of agriculture land at cheap rates and then sell plots to different individuals by making promises of getting the required approvals from authorities soon. In most cases the MC officials often turn a blind eye to such developments. Such "developers" make promises to buyers and talk of extending them a host of facilities like metalled roads, streetlights, sewerage etc at the time of selling land. Some smart operators also show sewage lines and streetlight poles to substantiate their claims. But many a gullible buyer gets a shock to learn later that the sewerage shown to him at the time of sale was not linked with the main sewerage line and streetlights remain unfunctional due to the lack of electricity connection.

    But, the realisation usually dawns upon them too late as by the time they come to know about the "fraud", the developer has "quit" from the place leaving the buyers with no choice but to look towards the MC to extend civic amenities to them.

    No takers for solution

    The Punjab Government has already launched a scheme to regularise illegal colonies on payment of development charges at the rate of 75 per cent. But, according to the Commissioner, Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, Vinay Bublani, residents of most of the identified illegal colonies are reluctant to deposit such high development charges. “We give approval to building plans in illegal colonies if they deposit their individual development charges. But, the development of such colonies is done only if they collectively deposit the fixed development charges,” he added.

    Officials of the MC revealed that instead of depositing the development charges, many residents prefer to wait for years or try to exert political pressure to get the civic amenities extended to their colonies. "We cannot extend civic amenities like water supply and sewerage to private and un-approved colonies till the residents deposit development charges," said an MC official.

    Wide web

    This menace is not confined to Jalandhar alone. The phenomena can be witnessed in other major satellite cities and townships like Phagwara, Nakodar, Hoshiarpur, Kartarpur, Lambra, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr in the Doaba region. The main reason for growth of unapproved colonies is the influx of the burgeoning neo-rich and middle-class people to cities and townships from villages due to lack of security and employment avenues in rural areas. Almost everybody living in a village wants to settle in a city these days. Villagers are increasingly getting allured by the glitter of the city life. So, the first stop of most of such people is generally illegal colonies situated on periphery of a city.

    Official speak

    Tirlok Singh, Senior Town Planner, claimed that strict measures were being taken to prevent the growth of illegal colonies within the city limits. “We resort to demolition whenever, we come across any such new colonies,” he said.

    “As far as illegal colonies are concerned there is no boom now. We discourage such practices,” says Bublani

    Trade insiders, however, say that the MC and other authorities are normally reluctant to take any action when the builders start construction in such colonies. “Violation is rampant. No change of land use permission is taken when a builder takes possession of a piece of agricultural land. The land is used for commercial or residential purposes without depositing the necessary fee or following proper procedure. And all this happens right under the nose of the authorities, but they turn a blind eye to the practice which, has encouraged builders to go in for such unapproved colonies in a big way,” said a local property dealer.

  • Unapproved colonies’ regularisation sought

    The Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association today asked the state Government to stop action against the unapproved colonies in the state. The association also urged them to regularise all undeclared colonies which have come up till date and claim the development charges from the owners who have purchased properties in these colonies.The colonisers had conducted a state level meeting today at Guru Nanak Bhawan.

    The colonisers thus have clarified that they will not be paying any development charges to the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and instead the consumers will be paying the development charges while they have not clarified about the license fee which a coloniser needs to pay to PUDA for getting the colony approved.

    President of the association Kultar Singh Jogi said, “The demolition exercise should be stopped with immediate effect because this has led to the death of one of our colleague in Dhandra village last week when PUDA team had gone to demolish the illegal colonies.”

    As per the allegations of the association- Pinky Chawla property dealer in Chawla colony died of heart attack when the PUDA team came to demolish his Chawla Colony. Jatinder Pal Singh Saluja, state general secretary said, “The consumers are ready to pay the development charges and that can be determined by the Government in consultation of our association members.”

    It needs to be mentioned that more than 1,000 undeclared colonies are in Ludhiana alone and the property dealers are urging to regularise them in the entire state where no norms have been followed in making a colony.

    They stated that in many colonies more than 60 per cent of the development work has also been completed and consumers have invested huge amount. So demolition of these colonies at this point is not justified.

    The members stated that they will be making a 101-member committee which will be taking further actions in future. The association demanded that within 15 days they should be called by the Government for a meeting on this issue.

    Gurvinder Singh Lamba, Kamal Chaitly and many others also spoke on the occasion. More than 5,000 colonisers from across the state attended this meeting.

    Unapproved colonies’ regularisation sought - Indian Express
  • Illegal colonies thrive in Patiala, buyers fume

    PATIALA: Despite tall claims by Punjab government about containing the land mafia and mushrooming of illegal colonies in the state, things seem to be taking a worse turn in Patiala. The number of illegal colonies in Patiala district has touched 464, while there are only 77 approved colonies in the district.

    Punjab government had implemented Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act 1995 in November 1995 to stop mushrooming of illegal colonies. Under section 21 of this Act, no person can work as a promoter or estate agent without registering as a promoter. But despite such clear instructions, majority of real estate developers, in alleged connivance with politicians and bureaucrats, have been constructing illegal colonies.

    Details obtained by TOI showed that Patiala sub-division tops the list in the district with 300 illegal colonies, Nabha sub-division with 54 is second, Samana and Patran sub-divisions have 49 illegal colonies each while Rajpura has 26. Various property dealers sold these colonies at huge rates, claiming to provide all basic amenities as mandated by the Act. But, after getting land registered in their name, many purchasers were shocked to find that amenities like roads, sewage and water supply were missing from the colonies.

    "I purchased a plot in a colony in my city. But some days back, I learned that the colony is illegal. The property dealer did not reveal the truth to me. Instead of harassing me, the administration must take action against the property dealer," said Sukhwinder Singh from Nabha. Though Punjab government has formed Patiala Development Authority to keep an eye and prevent construction of illegal colonies, inefficiency of its officers could be gauged from the fact that out of over a hundred colonies in the district, only 77 are approved by authorities.

    "Since majority of real estate developers pay bribes to PDA officers, they don't take any action. If no bribe has been paid to PDA officers, then why they did not take any action despite having full details of illegal colonies," asked a senior officer, on condition of anonymity. When contacted, DC-cum-chief administrator of PDA, G K Singh, said they have decided to demolish all illegal colonies. "In coming some days, we would start demolishing the illegal colonies," he said.

    Illegal colonies thrive in Patiala, buyers fume - The Times of India
  • Builders’ body postpones strike

    Stating that the state government had responded positively to their demands, the executive body of the Ludhiana Builders Association has decided to postpone its one day strike in protest of high prices of construction material. The strike was scheduled for July 9.

    H S Virdi, president of the association said the chief minister and the deputy chief minister have assured that 500 stone crushing units will be opened again after all legal formalities are completed.

    In view of this response, the builders say they have decided .

    They added that the chief minister has also assured to resolve mining issues, which, they claim, will bring down the prices of construction material. The builders, however, have requested the government to initiate strong steps to implement its commitments, so that construction material prices drop to their previous levels.

    The prices of white sand, coarse sand, bricks, crusher, among others had nearly doubled because of a ban on mining in many parts of the state.

    Builders’ body postpones strike - Indian Express