The Aam Aadmi Party government has decided to grant ownership rights to around 7,200 families that got agricultural land in the mid-70s under a programme for landless people. Under the "20-point programme", launched during former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's tenure in 1975-76, around 12,500 landless families in Delhi got land for cultivation, according to officials.
"At that time, there were around 360 villages in Delhi. Around 12,500 families from these villages got plots measuring an acre or less," Delhi's Social Justice Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam told PTI. Recognised as "Asamis" or tenants, these families were required to apply for land ownership with the revenue department.
Some of them found a way around the bureaucratic process and secured ownership rights to their land, while the others, mainly from Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes, could not "because they couldn't afford to bribe officers," an official claimed.
"Left in the lurch, these families still don't have land rights. Considering the rapid rate of urbanisation in the national capital, new housing and infrastructure projects will be undertaken. Therefore, they face a serious threat of eviction," Gautam said.
People with ownership rights receive good compensation when the agencies acquire their land for government projects. They have access to economic opportunities, while these 7,200 families in 89 villages of Delhi are vulnerable to displacement without any compensation, the minister said.
"These families have been moving from pillar to post for the last 40 years. The Delhi government had even convened a special session on the issue around one and half years ago.
"Still, not much has been achieved... the files keep oscillating between the Centre and the city government," he alleged.
Land rights have been granted under the 20-point programme across the country. Only Delhi is lagging behind, Gautam claimed.
Recently, at a meeting convened by the minister and Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, district magistrates, divisional commissioners and the principal secretary (revenue) were directed to dispose of the pending cases at the earliest.
An official said district magistrates have started meeting such families and the cases will be disposed of soon.