New Delhi: The Delhi Government has decided to cancel provisional regularisation certificates of 73 unauthorised colonies that were issued ahead of the 2008 Assembly elections.

The action comes after an internal inquiry conducted by Urban Development department found "gross violation" of prescribed norms in issuance of provisional regularization certificates (PRCs) to the colonies.

"We have decided to cancel PRCs of 73 colonies," top government sources said.

The Delhi government had issued provisional regularisation certificates to 1,639 unauthorised colonies ahead of the assembly polls in 2008 which have been home to around 40 lakh people and constitute important votebank.

Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had ordered inquiry into the matter last month following allegations that some "non existent" as well as "ineligible" colonies were given PRCs flouting norms.

The BJP has termed the irregularities as "biggest land scam" in the city and even wrote a letter to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram demanding a high-level probe.

According to a complaint filed before the Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin, provisional regularization certificates were issued by the Delhi government to certain non-existent colonies which do not meet prescribed norms.

The Lokayukta had issued notices to Delhi government last month seeking a detailed report on the issue.

Delhi government has now identified around 125 colonies which did not meet all prescribed qualifications for getting

With opposition BJP stepping up its attack on the government on the issue, Dikshit had earlier this month divested senior Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan of the Urban Development department which is the nodal agency for regularisation of unauthorised colonies. The department has been given to A K Walia.

Chauhan was the urban development minister when PRCs were distributed in 2008, but after the polls Walia was given the department. However, Walia was divested of the department in a reshuffle in February.

Officials said government would regularise only those colonies which have got clearances from all agencies and departments concerned while those which do not meet the qualifications would not be considered for regularisation.

They said Survey of India has been asked to provide details of 1080 unauthorised colonies which were given PRCs in 2008.

The government aims to regularise some of the colonies ahead of municipal polls in April next year as the Dikshit government in 2008, while distributing the PRCs had promised to regularise the colonies if Congress came to power for the third term. However, not a single colony has been regularized so far.