Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has issued instructions to officials of various sister bodies under PUDA and Town Planners across the state for fixing/freezing boundaries of illegal colonies by using Google Earth data which is mandatory as per the ‘Regularization of illegal/unauthorised colonies policy of 2018’.
According to this policy, only those illegal colonies can be regularised which had come into existence before March 19, 2018, after paying the composition fee to the government and submitting all the required documents.
Under the 2018 policy, “Development of unauthorized colony” means the process of developing a colony by subdividing land physically, including by way of demarcating katcha roads or by constructing pucca roads or where stone metal has been laid out or where services like water supply, sewer, electrical, parks or water works or sewer treatment plant or boundary wall or any one of these activities have been carried out or are in the process of being carried out.” The instruction issued by PUDA on June 21 further reads that the best available source today to identify the boundaries of colonies as on March 2018 is the historical data of ‘Google Earth Pro/satellite data already procured by department (if available).
PUDA told its officials across the state that satellite data (if available)/image provided by Google Earth Pro as of March 2018 should be used while fixing the boundaries of colonies as on March 19, 2018. And if March 2018 image is not available, then the satellite image of the nearest previous date be used and a committee headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner (Urban Development)/Additional Chief Administrator with the district town planner concerned and others officials should examine the case and pass a speaking order for freezing the boundaries according to the facts/circumstances of that case.
An expert on the issue said that along with these instructions, the Girdawari (survey of the land) of land prior to March 2018 should also be considered while fixing the boundaries of such illegal colonies.
“Issuing of these instructions, which have already been mentioned in clear-cut and detailed manner in the 2018 policy for the regularisation of the illegal colonies, after four years of this policy again reflects the callous attitude of the officials for not implementing the policy in a proper manner in the past four years because of which the same instructions are being issued now,” said a senior officer in PUDA, adding that the government should also get it checked whether Google images were considered in case of those illegal colonies which were regularised in all these four years or not.
“Government officials are ridiculously exposing the workings of their own departments on how they have been ignoring the already available instructions for freezing the boundaries,” said Advocate Mukesh Verma of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Besides this, the 2018 policy also says that the location plan of the colony, site plan, layout plan along with the numbering of the plots of the colony superimposed with Khasra plan and Google image, etc., must be submitted by the developer/colonisers/resident welfare association of the plot holders of such colonies.