Digging deeper into “Unauthorised Colonies” in Delhi

Exploring the term “unauthorised”

IN spite of being divulged as “unauthorised”- Is it really necessary to dig up the concept of “unauthorised colonies”? However, the power of tagging it as unauthorised is vested upon the government bodies. In regards to the Capital city, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has listed hundreds of colonies as unauthorised since they have developed without permission (Unauthorised colonies and City of Delhi, June 1998). The policy and planning document provides a categorization of eight types of settlement in the Delhi, out of which unauthorised colonies are termed under “unplanned” settlements (Categorization of Settlement in Delhi, May 2015). Let’s google the term in general- the pop-up words as “unofficial”, “unsanctioned” are found to be synonyms. Why is it required for each parcel of land to be documented/registered with officials? The land is a scarce resource hence need to be utilized judiciously so would it be the only reason to get it in control by command and rule situations?

Related: What are Unauthorised Colonies as per DDA?

Let’s think for the residents of  unauthorised colonies

Originally, the land of unauthorised colonies owned by farmers who sold their plots to the public at cheaper rates to escape from the game of acquisition and then claiming compensation in return (Unauthorised colonies and City of Delhi, June 1998). The behavioural tendency of farmers has been reflected in the inability of the government to earn their trust in schemes of land pooling and acquisition. The residents of unauthorised colonies are the migrants arrived from different states to seek employment and other opportunities; however, became the victims to deal with the challenges and atrocities enforced by cities in return for few benefits enjoyed by them. This is an act of negligence on part of the urban governance structure for not able to suffice the expectation and basic needs of immigrants arriving in their place. “Wouldn’t let the expansion in a city boundary make the immigrants orphaned for basic needs “. Hence, it is crucial to think for this section of society beforehand while planning before declaring one as unauthorised. They contribute a major portion of success in the economic development of a city. Their employment is mainly seasonal in nature, having a limited skill set and knowledge required to be deployed in various sectors for consistent prolonged earnings. The policy interventions are required for capacity building and skill training with a minimum needful amount of stipend. The skill mapping has a crucial role to play when done before the need of an hour.

Unauthorized Colonies

Related Articles:

  1. Delhi Master Plan 2021 by Delhi Development Authority (DDA)
  2. What is Land Pooling?
  3. What are Unauthorised Colonies? | Categories, Reasons of Formation, Problems Faced

A journey from being declared as ‘’unauthorised” to “authorised”

The Bill (the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies, 2019) has been passed in parliament claiming a legal status to these colonies to make them “regularized -unauthorised colony” ( 2019). The step has made the residents of these colonies convenient to ask for credit facilities from the banks since it allows them to get their properties registered after paying nominal charges of registration and stamp duty ( 2019). Being declared as” illegal and encroachment of public land “ why these colonies will make their share as a source of revenue for development authorities instead of availing property registration at free of cost?

As per the report of the GNCTD’s ( Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi ), In Delhi, out of total 1639 unauthorised colonies,895 colonies were found to be eligible to be declared as “authorize” in 2012. The criteria for selection has not been explained or informed anywhere. There is a need to have transparency in the system. The reason for claiming one of the unplanned settlements as unauthorised colonies sets under two major aspects: First, the division of agriculture land into plot illegally (Research, May 2015). Since the migrants arriving in the city are not so economically sound or financially capable to purchase a piece of land at the heart of the city where the land value and rates are found to be very high, the only option left is to settle at the periphery of the city where the land categorized under agriculture Land use. Second, buyers purchase the plots on the basis of tenure or document as power of attorney, termed as “semi-illegal” means of buying and selling the properties (Research, May 2015). The bill has provided them legal rights to transfer or sell the plot legally and to demand basic services and amenities. After being migrated to a city, why does it require for a particular section of the society to be legally bounded to avail basic services of infrastructure and sanitation facilities? It is very much important to estimate the population of the migrant in upcoming years so that the provisions regarding the expansion of city boundary or being included in Master Plan, provision and planning for their infrastructure and basic needs can be done well in an advance. It is not always necessary to leave the task for later when it can be performed earlier to prevent the last-minute chaos.

Even after being legally converted to authorised colonies, wouldn’t get included under the purview of “planned” settlements or colonies. The colonies located at the periphery of the city should be provided with the services of last mile connectivity irrespective of the fact of being declared as unauthorised or authorised. The delimitation of an area in the Master Plan for the migrant population is required beforehand. Why is it difficult for authorities to neglect the presence of unauthorised colonies and letting them grow in an organic manner? The most settlements take it roots at land owned by the government for public purposes, use of which has already been decided in the Master Plan, preventing the authorities to put that land to its designated use. If any unauthorised colony located within the city limits has earned locational advantage of being closer to transport corridors, would result in high market value of that particular chunk of land. The authorities found it as an opportunity to earn profit from the sale of such properties hence sometimes resulted into the forceful evacuation of the residents or to pursue the option to make them legally authorize and earn the benefits indirectly.

Unauthorised Vs Squatter settlement

Can any squatter settlement be termed as unauthorised colonies? The residents of unauthorised colonies are not termed as “ marginal urban poor”; however, have gained the right of ownership of land, transfer or sell through power of attorney, provided by the Bill (the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies, 2019) (Unauthorised colonies and City of Delhi, June 1998).There is an immense need to rethink the criteria for categorization of the unplanned settlements into squatter and unauthorised colonies. Why the privileged of being converted into authorised would only be enjoyed by unauthorised colonies, not by squatter settlement? It’s time to rethink, reconsider and revaluate the strategies to benefit the whole section of the society irrespective of the composition of the people residing within and place of origin. The physical composition of settlements, type of structure, the material used for construction has a great impact on a decision of its demolition by the authorities (Unauthorised colonies and City of Delhi, June 1998). Does it mean that only assuring good physical consolidation of buildings in squatter settlement or unauthorised colonies is the ultimate way of preventing them from being extirpated or vice-versa? The authorisation of residents helps them to have their say in political engagements that is what lacking with squatter settlements. Why do the preference of authorisation is only limited to unauthorised settlements but not to the entire composition of unplanned settlement?

Author Bio: I, Divyangna Neeraj, enrolled in Master of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. I have completed my graduation in Architecture in 2017 . I am an ambitious, and disciplined person. I love to explore new things in day to day life. I believe in possessing detail and in depth knowledge of a subject. Being an Architect, I have served the society with my skill and knowledge. Being a part of profession of Urban and Regional planning has widened my scope of learning, providing me a chance to serve the nation at macro level.


  • how residents of Delhi’s unauthorised colonies can apply for ownership rights. ( 2019, December). Retrieved from hindustantimes.com: https://www.hindustantimes.com/real-estate/here-s-how-residents-of-delhi-s-unauthorised-colonies-can-apply-for-ownership-rights/story-7E6Ps6HejpVL0UhzcpRmAJ.html
  • Mukherjee, S. (June 1998). Unauthorised colonies and City of Delhi. School of Planning and Architecture New D.
  • Research, C. f. (May 2015). Categorization of Settlement in Delhi. Retrieved from citiesofdelhi.cprindia.org: https://cprindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Categorisation-of-Settlement-in-Delhi.pdf

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