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675 government houses illegally occupied even after employees’ death

PTI | New Delhi |

As many as 675 government houses in the national capital are being illegally occupied — and in many cases, months and years after the death of the central government employees who were allotted the accommodations.

Besides, 38 houses meant for officers at levels from Senior Section Officer to Joint Secretary are also under illegal occupation.

Of the 675 houses, 555 belong to Type 1, 2 and 3 categories — usually alloted to peons and junior level staff — and 120 are Type 4 houses — alloted to junior clerks and section officers — the Urban Development Ministry said in reply to an RTI query.

These houses have been illegally occupied for periods ranging from a few days and months, to even years, even after the death and retirement of the allottees, who were government employees and entitled to get accommodation, according to the ministry.

To check illegal occupation of government accommodation by Members of Parliament and government employees, the Union Cabinet had on Wednesday given the nod to changes in the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, to empower officials to evict such people within three days of their overstay.

Even senior bureaucrats continue to occupy houses illegally. Of these houses, a total of 16 are Type-4S, alloted to Senior Section and Under Secretary-level officers, 11 are Type 5A (Deputy Secretary to Director-level) and seven belong to the 5B category (meant for senior Director-level to below Joint Secretary-level), the ministry said.

There are also four illegally occupied houses of 6A type, which are usually alloted to officers of the Joint Secretary-level, it said in reply to the RTI application filed by Delhi college student Aniket Gaurav.

The government has referred to litigation in all these cases of unauthorised occupation, the Urban development Ministry said.

The changes in the Act also seek to debar such occupants to move any court below the high court with their appeals for overstay.

Currently, it takes around a month to issue the vacation orders after issuing notices and hearing out the occupants.

Once the vacation order is issued, time of up to 30 days is granted to the occupants for leaving the premises.

In between, the occupants usually move the courts, especially the lower courts, to get a stay order.

With the amendments, the process will end in three days.

The amendments seek to empower Estate Officers to send notices and such occupants need to reply within first three days of their overstay. The officer could issue an eviction order with immediate effect if not satisfied with the reply, as per an Urban Development Ministry official.

If such persons fail to comply with the order, the officers could use force to vacate the premises, he said.

The amendments will fast-track the removal of unauthorised occupants and increase the availability of residential accommodations for wait-listed persons.