When the UPA government had passed the order for regularising unauthorised colonies, it was hailed as a landmark decision. For almost four million people often struggling for basic amenities in ‘unauthorised’ areas of the city, the decision showed a ray of hope, an indication that the constant fear of living in homes that could be demolished at any time as they were considered illegal by the authorities, would come to an end. However, politicians saw it as the perfect opportunity to amass huge tracks of land in the city.
Those involved in the land racket are BJP leader Braham Singh, candidate from the Okhla in the 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections and his brother, Bir Singh, sitting councillor in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and former deputy mayor of south Delhi.
In collusion with officers of the DDA and the Department of Urban Development, Braham Singh and his aides have occupied massive areas of land within the city. The vast stretches of lands are located in: Kotla Mahigram, Abul Fazal Enclave, Radha Krishna Vihar and Madanpur Khadar Extension.
In 2011, Vijay Dev, then divisional commissioner, Department of Revenue, Delhi, had inquired into the matter. The inquiry report revealed that a number Up for grabs Vast streches of land have been usurped by the power hungry of colonies, which got the go-ahead certificate from the Department of Urban Development, were fake.
The modus operandi of grabbing the land was simple — to project an area as an irregular colony inhabited by slum dwellers in order to get it regularised. All that was needed, was a few contacts in the concerned departments — the DDA and the Department of Urban Development, and bogus applications.
Documents reveal that Khasra (a legal document specifying land detail) numbers 169, 171 and 176 in Radha Krishna Vihar are legally owned by the DDA. These constitute an area of 6,270 square meters. But, the said area was shown as an unauthorised colony seeking regularisation from the Department of Urban Development by Braham Singh. The application stated that 67 houses belonging to him and his relatives existed on the said land. For this, he had submitted a bogus list of residents. However, a visit to the land reveals that even today the ‘colony’ is still largely vacant with no more than a few shanties covering a miniscule area of the land and the residents mentioned in Singh’s list are not living there, instead the shanties have been rented out to furniture traders, garages and tea vendors.
Tehelka found that the people on the list, all relatives of Singh, are actually living in well-to-do houses in Madanpur Khadar. When Singh had sought for regularisation a few years back, the estimated cost of the area was around 500 crore. Today he and his family continue to enjoy control of a land which is now valued at approximately 700 crore.
The land grab saga does not end here. The next land to have been acquired in a similar way was designated for road widening by the dda according to rti reports. The land falls in the Abul Fazal enclave near Sarita Vihar and has an area of about 23,620 square meters. The Khasra numbers for the land are 490/421, 546/491, 421/548, 562/424, 426, 431, 436, 438 and 790/449. The cost of the land is estimated around 1,100 crore as per today’s market rate.
The land was lying vacant till 2006 when it was taken over by the DDA. Therefore, there could be no possibility of a case made for its regularisation, since, according to the rule, only colonies existing before 2002 could be taken into consideration for it. But, Braham Singh built makeshift huts in the area in order to obtain for it the status of a regularised colony. He submitted another bogus list in order to do so. A visit to the area reveals that none from the said list are living there and the names mentioned are yet again of Singh’s own relatives, some of whom are not even residents of Delhi.
Others in Singh’s family have also been in influential political positions and have aided in setting up this multi-crore land racket. In her five year tenure as an MCD councillor from Madanpur Khadar, Singh’s wife, Kamlesh, used her powers to illegally procure provisional certificates for these colonies. A complaint had also been filed against her by former NCP MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri along with social activist Arun Rai regarding the same.
Braham Singh’s brother, Niranjan Singh, is looking after the illegal land in Radha Krishna Vihar. Niranjan is an associate of a senior Congress leader from Rajasthan. Indraj Singh, another one of his brothers, has illegally occupied almost 27,100 square meters of DDA land (Khasra no 1076/784) in the JJ (Jhuggi Jhonpri) colony (slum) in Madanpur Khadar. The cost of the land is estimated to be more than 150 crore. A large part of this land is also being used for the cultivation of vegetables for commercial use while the rest has been rented out to Dhabas and garages. In June 2008, the DDA had carried out demolitions in the area to reclaim the land and placed its board there. But, the board was soon removed and the land was taken over once again by the land grabbing politicians through their DDA connections.
DDA vice-chairman Balwinder Kumar has written to the Divisional Commissioner of south Delhi asking him to take action against the culprits since the land belongs to DDA for settling slum dwellers. He told Tehelka that a two member committee will be formed to look into the matter. Sanjay Singh, of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) has also demanded an inquiry against Braham Singh.
Needless to say, the stakes involved are too high here, landholdings worth thousands of crores have been occupied illegally under the noses of both the state and the Central governments. It is not mere coincidence that Singh joined the BJP from the BSP just a day before the declaration of the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. Party sources confirmed that the shift was only to keep control of the illegally amassed land.
An RTI copy of the aerial survey of the specified lands conducted by the DDA reveals that the colonies are fake. A 2011 report by a DDA official also declared the colonies as fake and said that their names should be deleted from the purview of unauthorised colonies. Such interventions did bring about the cancellation of the provisional certificates for these colonies between 2011-12 but with no mechanism or will from the state authorities to redress the situation, the areas are still under the hold of the illegal land grabbers.
When Tehelka contacted BJP vice-president and Rajya Sabha MP, Prabhat Jha to comment on the issue, he said, “If the allegations are true then I don’t want to give any versions, I want you to go on with your reports.” However, when Bir Singh was contacted, he said, “The land belongs to us and our ancestors.”
He is doing this in order to get a share of the land under question.” Ramesh is also a close relative of Braham Singh. But when contacted for corroboration, he has denied any proximity to Braham Singh, even when there are enough and more indications that the two have known each other for long a time.
When Braham Singh was contacted for his version, he said that the lands under question are his ‘personal property’, but the reports and documents procured over the period of this investigation tell a different tale.
The fact that there has been no substantial intervention in a scam of such proportions is telling of a system which gives almost ‘criminal’ privilege to its political representatives. Now, that such glaring evidences have been brought to the fore, it will have to be seen whether the government and its authorities are serious about reclaiming public spaces from the political land mafia. Another question to ask at this point is, whether the BJP will continue to protect its erring leaders or take responsibility for their criminal actions.
Where the dead come alive
How fake documents showing the dead as alive were produced to seal a real estate deal in New Delhi
In a bizarre development, the dead were brought to life to seal a real estate deal in New Delhi. Working in tandem with local officials, the real estate mafia has bought acres of land spread across three villages: Madanpur Khadar, Tehkhand and Tughlakabad. Their modus operandi: furnishing documents on behalf of people, of whom many are dead.
The land under question was jointly owned by residents from the three villages and was equally divided among them. It therefore came under dispute and in 1996, the court issued a stay order on it. However, in 2013, a pre-dated (2004) general power of attorney of 65 people, including ‘the dead’, appeared out of nowhere in favour of one Vinod Kumar. Vinod immediately got the property registered under the name of the Tarbia foundation with accomplices Shriom Chauhan, Narendra Kumar and Syed Sahal acting as witnesses. A property worth crores was sold at a price of 75 lakh.
“Our grandfather died in 1972. How can he sign the documents in 2013? It is a nothing but a conspiracy and fraud,” say Vivek and Raj Singh, grandsons of Nathu (one of those made alive on paper by the mafia).
The villagers tried to approach the police and the revenue department for help, but they washed their hands off the issue by shifting responsibility to other officials. In a twisted state of affairs, while the system turns a blind eye, the living are busy feeding off the dead.