New Delhi: In a Diwali gift for the national capital, the Modi government on Wednesday approved ownership rights for four million residents of 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, a decision that even the usually combative Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal welcomed while thanking the centre.

Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri said the Union Cabinet further approved bringing a bill in the next session of parliament to implement the proposal. Puri asserted the move is not linked to the upcoming assembly elections in Delhi which are just a few months away.

“This is not for the election. We will bring the bill and Delhi Development Authority is beginning work immediately,” he added.

“I am extremely thankful to PM Sh @narendramodi Ji for Union Cabinet’s landmark Diwali Gift for more than 40 lakh [4 million] residents of 1,797 unauthorised colonies of Delhi which will now get ownership, transfer; mortgage rights,” Puri tweeted.

Alleging that the Delhi government was taking too much time, Puri said the Union government decided to move ahead immediately on the proposal as the Delhi government was asking for time till year 2021 and even the company to draw the boundaries had not been set up.

Puri said the decision will benefit more than 4 million residents of 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies spread over around 175sqkm, as redevelopment can now take place in these colonies.

Calling it a “historic and landmark initiative” for Delhi, Puri said it will address major issues being faced by the residents of these colonies like lack ownership/transfer rights, provision of basic infrastructure and civic amenities.

With recognition of property documents, the property holders in these colonies can now enter into valid property transactions and can now invest in safe structures as the unsafe structures were a major worry.

The Urban Development Minister said the focus is on the lower income group and does not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by DDA, including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anant Ram Dairy. He, however, conceded that the same logic does apply to these colonies but they will address these issues later.

The rights will be conferred on payment of nominal charge based on carpet area/plot size. For colonies on government land, the charge will be 0.5 per cent (for less than 100 sqm), 1 per cent (for 100 — 250 sqm) and 2.5 per cent (for greater than 250 sqm), of the circle rate of highest category of locality of the residential area surrounding the colony. For colonies on private land, the charge will be half of the charge on government land.