The Parliament on 28 December 2017 gave its approval to the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2017, after Rajya Sabha passed it with a voice vote.
The bill was previously passed by the Parliament’s lower house, Lok Sabha on 27 December and by the Union Cabinet last week. It was introduced in the lower House by the Housing and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri who stated that if the bill was not passed, the national capital would witness unprecedented chaos.
The bill mainly seeks to extend the deadline of a law to protect slums, unauthorised colonies and illegal structures in the national capital from penal action for a period of three years, from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2020.
The Illegal structures that came up between March 2002 and May 2014 were protected from sealing and demolition under a special provision law enacted in 2011, with a validity of three years. The immunity granted under the existing bill ends on 31 December.
This is the second instance when the bill has got an extension. When the immunity was first extended for three years in 2014, the then Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu had told the Parliament that the objective was not only to protect certain forms of unauthorised structures but also to provide the government agencies with an opportunity to finalise norms, policy guidelines and feasible strategies for its implementation.
However, not much progress was made in the same regard in the past three years.
The Unauthorised Structures
Some of the structures classified as illegal include prominent ones such as shops, eateries, designer boutiques and furniture showrooms along the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road and outlets at upscale neighbourhoods such as Shahpur Jat and Hauz Khas Village.
Many hospitals, religious institutions, schools and slums have also been found to fall in the same category.