Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi

Unauthorised Colonies Oct 29, 2020

Unauthorised colonies are settlements which have been built in violation of zoning rules, typically on private, agricultural land. According to a study on Delhi’s unauthorised colonies, there is another type of unauthorised colony, one which has been built on illegally subdivided agricultural land. Unauthorised colonies are considered a part of ‘unplanned development’.

Features of unauthorised colonies


People living in unauthorised colonies cannot obtain ownership rights or titles to the property they have been occupying.They cannot thus legally own, inherit or transfer their property. However, many residents do have other documents such as, Power of Attorney (PoA) proving that they have been residing in that property from the date on the document.


Although in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that basic civic amenities like water and power supply must be provided to the residents of unauthorised colonies, and the Master Plan of 2021 also provides for the same, the service provision in these colonies is typically low and insufficient.


Other types of unplanned settlements such as, jhuggi-jhopdi clusters and slums face a greater threat of demolition and eviction than unauthorised colonies.[1] This is partly because the planning authorities tend to view those slums and JJ clusters, which are built on public land more as encroachments compared to unauthorised colonies. Unauthorised colonies are largely built on private, agricultural land.[2]

Regularisation of unauthorised colonies

Regularisation is the process by which unauthorised colonies are legalised. This means that property owners in these properties can register and acquire title documents to their properties.

In 2008, the Delhi government, through a notification titled ‘Regulations for Regularisation of Unauthorised Colonies’ under Section 57 of the DDA Act of 1957, outlined the procedure for regularisation of unauthorised colonies. According to the notification-

  1. The colony must have been in existence as of 31st March, 2002. All regularisation drives announce ‘cut-off’ dates; residents must prove that they resided in the colony as of that date through documents such as, electricity bills or PoA.
  2. At least 50 percent of the settlements on it must have been built up (constructed as pucca property) as of the date of the announcement of the regularisation scheme.
  3. Residents of the colony must have formed a Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) through which they can apply for the regularisation of their colony.

The Delhi government has carried out multiple drives to regularise unauthorised colonies in the city, starting from the 1960s. In December, 2019, it regularised 1700 unauthorised colonies.[3] Regularisation has been a key election agenda for all political parties during the Delhi elections over the years.

According to the Census of India, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of Delhi’s citizens lived in unauthorised colonies when the census was conducted.

Photo by Karthikeyan K, Unsplash.

[1] Lemanski and Lama-Rewal (2013)- The 'missing middle': class and urban governance in Delhi's unauthorised colonies

[2] Ibid

[3] Financial Express- Good news for Delhi’s unauthorised colonies! Govt exempts property owners from income tax

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