Delhi's Sainik Farms is India's Banana Republic

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Delhi's Sainik Farms is India's Banana Republic- ET Cetera-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: It's the kind of admission that should make the ‘aam aadmi’s’ government turn red-faced. A nonchalant Centre conceded in Parliament
on Thursday that its writ does not run in ‘khaas aadmi’s’ Sainik Farms, the high-profile, unauthorised colony on the outskirts of the Capital.


Union minister of state for urban development Saugata Ray admitted in the Rajya Sabha that the “entirely...unauthorised” Sainik Farms, dotted with luxury villas and farmhouses owned by influential politicians and corporate bigwigs, could not be touched. Responding to Congress MP Prabha Thakur’s question, the minister recounted to stunned MPs how the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has been barred from entering the colony’s 1,650 ultra-posh homes, forcing it to prepare a “three dimensional database” of the buildings in the absence of hard data. By way of explaining the incongruity of government agencies being kept out of an illegal colony, Mr Ray added that the houses had “high walls and large gates which were very well barricaded”.

The point was not lost on the members. To Congress MP Motilal Vohra’s question about how the rich and powerful could construct houses in Sainik Farms without permission, Mr Ray replied: “Sir, this is an entirely unauthorised colony built in violation of building norms and all sorts of regulations. It is not possible for the ministry to find out how many houses are occupied and how many are not occupied because the MCD officials are not allowed to ingress into the houses, and (had to) do the survey from outside”.

BJP’s Najma Heptullah sought to know whether the colony should be renamed as the “Republic of Sainik Farms” as the inhabitants generated their own electricity, pumped their own water, paid no municipal tax and constructed their own sewage lines. The minister responded that the government had decided to keep “affluent colonies” like Sainik Farms out of the ambit of its 2007 decision to regularise all illegal colonies in the Capital.

However, the minister was forced to accept that those who owned homes in Sainik Farms were not deterred by the lack of municipal amenities such as water, sewerage , drainage or solid waste management. They just made their own. Not surprisingly, then, the minister in reply to Ms Thakur’s question confirmed: “... as far as we know, ‘aam aadmi’ do not live in the Sainik Farms”.

Asked why the government was neither demolishing the colony or regularising it, Mr Ray said no demolition can take place because of Delhi laws valid up to December 31, 2009 that prevented any such action. He added that there was a proposal to extend the same up to December 31, 2010. He also told the House that the central government decided in 2008 that a separate policy would be evolved for “affluent colonies” such as Sainik Farms.
How many times have we heard of proposals to demolish Dharavi and to evict the illegal squatters there? Whenever the topic of Dharavi comes up, every person occupying the social ladder from the middle class upwards curses its residents as a thugs, criminals and illegals squatters. How many similarly have the ball$ to curse these high profile residents of Sainik Farms?

Are we being fair in criticizing the millions of poor people of Dharavi who barely eke out a living and are forced to sleep on the dirty streets of a Dharavi slum while letting off the high and mighty residents of Sainik Farms who can afford alternative housing but choose not to avail of it, preferring instead to thumb their noses at municipal laws?
 

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