New Delhi: In a sudden move, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday divested senior Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan of Urban Development Department which has been under
attack for alleged irregularities in distribution of provisional regularisation certificates to unauthorized colonies.

Revenue and Health and Family Welfare Minister A K Walia has been given the charge of Urban Development department. The department of employment, which was with Walia has been given to Chauhan, who is also in charge of PWD and SC and ST department, top officials said.

In the second such reshuffle in last eight months, Dikshit has given additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Law departments to Ramakant Goswami, who is a Minister of
Industries, Labour and Elections.

Dikshit had effected a major reshuffle of her Cabinet in February when then Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal was axed while 67-year-old Ramakant Goswami, a three-time MLA, was inducted into the council of ministers.

Walia, who was Urban Development Minister then, was stripped of the portfolio and it was given to Chauhan.

On Sunday’s reshuffle came amidst mounting attack on Dikshit's government on alleged irregularities in distribution of provisional regularisation certificates to unauthorized colonies.

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

The Lokayukta issued notices to Delhi Government last month seeking a detail report on the issue.

When asked about getting the new portfolio, Walia said expediting the process of regularisation of unauthorized colonies would be his top priority.

"I will try to expedite the process for regularisation of the colonies," he said.

The Government had issued provisional regularization certificates to 1,639 unauthorised colonies in 2008 which have been home to around 40 lakh people who constitute a major vote bank. Asked about the allegations of wrongdoings in handing out provisional regularization certificates to certain colonies, Walia said he would examine the issue in detail.

Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna and Dikshit had issued separate directives to Urban Development department to conduct an investigation into the allegations that non-existent
colonies were issued provisional regularisation certificates in 2008 by the government.

The department has in its probe found irregularities in several cases.

The Government has identified around 125 colonies which did not meet all prescribed qualifications for getting PRCs.

Notices are being issued to these colonies for wrong presentation of details such as percentage of built-up areas.

The divesting of Urban Development portfolio from Chauhan is seen as an effort to send across a message to the residents of unauthorized colonies ahead of municipal polls slated for April next year.

The importance of Urban Development department is also going to increase manifold it will have the administrative control of all the three new municipal bodies proposed to be created by trifurcating the MCD.

The Delhi Assembly on Thursday passed a bill paving way for splitting the MCD into three parts. The bill is being sent to President Pratibha Patil for her assent.

Sources said Goswami has been rewarded with additional portfolios as Dikshit is "impressed" with his performance.

(Agencies)