Rajya Sabha authorities have been unable to take full possession of a plot of land in the heart of New Delhi for the last 17 years due to encroachments, underlining how painstakingly difficult it can be even for public offices to get hold of government land.
The 8,700 square metre plot in RK Puram is worth more than ₹200 crore, and was allotted to the Rajya Sabha in 2003 to construct a guest hostel for the Upper House’s MPs and accommodation for its officers.
According to officials, the land had been under encroachment by some NGOs and slum residents, and the issue remains unresolved despite repeated efforts and offers of compensation.
Some officials pointed out that between 2005 and 2012, Rajya Sabha authorities didn’t take any steps to clear the coveted land of the unauthorised occupants, resulting in mounting troubles for the current regime.
On July 30, House chairman Venkaiah Naidu held a high-level meeting to review the status of the issue with House officials, Union ministry of housing and urban affairs, Delhi government and legal counsels.
“Naidu asked officials to take appropriate and quick action to get the land cleared of encroachments,” an official said.
Out of the total plot, around 4,384sqm remains occupied by different organisations, including NGOs, and after years of neglect, unauthorised slum clusters have occupied another 1194 sq m.
House officials said the plot is earmarked to be used for officers’ accommodation and also to set up the Rajya Sabha TV office, which is now housed at a plush but expensive property in Talkatora Stadium at an annual rent of ₹15 crore — a hefty amount for a channel with hardly any revenue source.
“Naidu also noted that there have been inordinate delays and urged that necessary steps be taken to resolve all outstanding issues including pending cases in the high court, where the issue has been pending for a long time,” said an official.
Another official involved in the issue said, “Several meetings have been taken at various levels and the government agencies are trying their best, but nothing seems to be moving. There are three NGOs that have not moved out so far, apart from a large slum cluster and a place of worship, which has been built without sanction.”
The plot has become more important as the Parliament is set to merge the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels into one, which will necessitate more space at a lower cost of operations.