COMMENTS ON MPD-2021 AS NOTIFIED BY DDA
GENERAL: With reference to above, on behalf of COMMON CAUSE I give below some comments mainly from the point of view of the citizen's full involvement both in the planning and in the implementation of the Delhi Development Plan.
1.1 As usual, the Draft MPD 2021 lays down in considerable detail the Plan framework for various aspects of city development and entrusts the detailed implementation to statutory local bodies. The major weakness of the previous Plan has been not only the multiplicity of controls over the implementation, but also the lack of provision for supervision of the implementation. Thus, the MCD and NDMC contribute very substantially to the abuse of the authority vested in them by their own laws and the Master Plan provisions that are left to be implemented by them. The Central Government technically controlling the MCD and NDMC, has no particular agency to exercise that control and the powers delegated to the Lieutenant Governor are not only inadequate but there are also no means at the latter's disposal to exercise those powers for effective supervision. The NCT Government and Legislative Assembly similarly have hardly any control and the two major statutory local bodies, viz. MCD and NDMC are left to carry on with their Councillors and highly corrupt official machinery. The Commissioner MCD is generally left to stand alone, frequently opposed by his Councillors; the only support he seems to derive is from the frequent directions of the higher judiciary. Similarly, Parliament scrutiny is desultory.
1.2 The provisions for monitoring and review proposed in the MPD are again routine procedures and the DDA does not exercise any control or enforce the observance of the MPD provisions. The Home Ministry, the Ministry of Urban Development and the Delhi Government do not perform the task of supervision and enforcement. The NCT Government as already stated above, has neither the authority over DDA, MCD and NDMC nor any statutory powers. This has been a major lacuna in planning the development of Delhi in the past several decades. This is a matter that must be attended to by the Ministries of Urban Development and Home Affairs, the DDA and the NCT Government.
1.3 The authority of the NCR Planning Board appears to be unacceptable equally to the Central Ministry of Urban Development, the participating State Governments including of Delhi and indeed its directions are hardly implemented by the DDA.
1.4 It seems obvious that the various factors referred to above have not received sufficient attention in the Draft MPD. Some thought will have to be given firstly, to the coordination of implementation including acquisition of land, redevelopment of the existing unauthorized colonies and the JJ clusters; and secondly, the problems created by a multiplicity of authorities must be addressed squarely and without delay. It was hoped that this question would be resolved with the conversion of the NCT as a full-fledged State, but that development is taking interminably long and it would
appear that the Ministries of Home Affairs and Urban Development have been given full Statehood. This is a major policy issue that must be flagged prominently by the Draft MPD.
2. TRANSPARENCY AND INVOLVEMENT OF RESIDENTS, INDUSTRY AND TRADE:
2.1 The need for involvement of citizens through their representatives in the process of planning, has been mentioned in paragraph 16 of the Introduction to the Draft MPD, but such consultation must extend down to the citizenry itself, the societies, welfare associations et al, and the involvement continued through the implementation process of the DDA, the Local Bodies and the Delhi NCT Government. In Chapter IV on SHELTER, it has been assessed that around forty percent of the additional housing need can potentially be satisfied by the development of accommodation through redevelopment and up-gradation of the existing area of Delhi. The redevelopment of existing areas takes note of, inter alia the inadequate infrastructure services and lack of community facilities, but at the same time goes on to make fairly liberal provisions for plotted/group housing, without in fact giving any detailed attention to, e.g., facilities that shall require substantial up-gradation of the infrastructural services like potable water, sewerage, drainage, communications, parking and community facilities. Yet, there is no mandatory requirement for either pre-verification that infrastructure services are adequate, or that the authorities sanctioning such re-development are held responsible statutorily, both for ensuring the adequacy of the infrastructure before sanctioning building plans and also for ensuring that completion plans and subsequent use conform to the conditions laid down. This applies equally to the areas of flats built by DDA. The neglect of this particular aspect has resulted in totally unplanned housing development, particularly the construction of multi-storey apartments, with and without prior sanction, non-observance of basement norms (below ground level and usage) and the resultant congestion of pavements, footpaths and roads by vehicles for which the norms prescribed are ignored with impunity.
2.2 The Draft MPD suggests that co-operative housing may be redeveloped on the basis of present group housing norms and regulations by formulating cooperative societies or self-managing communities. But there is no positive prescription for the involvement of the societies or self-managing committees, Resident's Welfare Associations etc., for prior consultation in the process of sanctioning development plans and approving completion plans also with their participation and consent. This is an important lacuna in the MPD and in the absence of specific statutory provision, the detailed implementing authorities, viz. MCD and NDMC are left to continue in their old highly inefficient and corrupt ways. It is most important that community involvement must be made part of the regulatory provisions and must be enforceable by or through the community institutions.
2.3 The provision for the Lutyens bungalow zone including NDMC area comprising large-sized plot as well as the Civil Lines area have been left to a strategy to be recommended by " the Committee Constituted ". Be that as it may, the allotment of bungalows in the Lutyens zone to political parties and others causes very frequent congestion on the roads not only by traffic but also by meetings and processions, etc. The MPD and/or the proposed Committee must go into this question so that the difficulties faced by the public particularly on Akbar Road, Ashok Road, Rajendra Prasad Road and the areas around CPI/CPM offices in Windsor Place are mitigated.
3. MIXED USE:
3.1 The provisions in Chapter XV on the subject of Mixed Use are not only confusing but they are also capable of being abused by the local authorities. As a rule, mixed use or non-residential activity in residential areas should be completely banned.
3.2 It should be the general rule that non-residential activity shall not be permitted in residential premises and that community needs should only be met by specifically designated commercial centers with provision for adequate parking. Both in the DDA developed residential areas and in the plotted zones, sufficient provisions exist for commercial centres, schools and dispensaries. The lax manner in which non-residential activity has been permitted or taken up without permission, has resulted in congestion to the detriment of public convenience and the environment. Furthermore, the provision for parking of buses etc. inside school premises has been blatantly flouted and most such schools cause traffic blocks during the starting and finishing hours. Taking note of the fact that most such schools have now become a commercial activity with adequate generation of funds, it would be reasonable to expect them to provide for parking within their own premises by constructing basements and/or multi-storey parking. Any interference with traffic should be penalized severely after a period of grace of say, two-three years.
3.3 In mixed use in the existing built up areas, the involvement of the Communities, Societies and Resident's Welfare Associations must remain crucial and obligatory. There should be established procedures for consultation with the communities etc. and their objections/comments must be given due consideration by the local authority. Provision should also be made for the Community etc. to make representation against decisions to introduce mixed use, to independent authorities.
4. MASTER PLAN REGULATORY AUTHORITY AND OMBUDSMAN:
4.1 There seems obvious need for the creating of a regulatory authority to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the MPD and deal with difficulties and problems that may arise. The authority it is suggested, should be multi-member with high professional membership. There is little point in appointing a generalist bureaucrat or judge to conduct regulatory functions of a technical nature.
4.2 The regulatory authority should have provision for consideration of the zonal development plans etc. and objections that may be raised in respect of them by the communities, etc.
4.3 The communities, societies, Residents' Welfare Associations etc., and individuals must have possibility of recourse to a quick redress forum like Ombudsman whose decisions must be accepted not only by the DDA but also by the Local Government authorities, except for reasons to be recorded in detail, publicized and communicated to the person or persons raising the complaints.
OMMON CAUSE had earlier submitted its views on the Draft Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021 vide letter dated 30.3.2005 addressed separately to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. Subsequently a detailed note containing our comments on the MPD 2021 as notified by DDA was also sent to PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry on 19.4.2005. On receipt of a reference dated 10.1.2006 from the Asstt. Director (Planning),MPPR, DDA, D-6, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi-110070, a further note in the matter was sent to them vide our letter dated 18.1.2006.
In this connection, we would like to invite your kind attention to the news item which appeared in the Times of India dated 22.02.2006. The MPD 2021 has not so far been finalized and notified by the Ministry of Urban Development. The DDA does not have any power to amend the existing MPD. Even the High Court of Delhi has ruled that DDA has no power to amend the Master Plan as the authority is solely vested with the Central Government. The news item which appeared in the Hindustan Times on 20.2.2006 refers.
Under the circumstances it is not clear how the DDA has reportedly taken the decision indicated in the news item of 22.02.06. More surprising is their decision to allow Banquet Halls constructed on a plot area of 333 sq.mt. in the residential areas: the requirements of parking within the plot area and the question of traffic congestion have not been referred to. Nor is there any reference to the views of the residents or the RWAs' etc. In this connection, the direction of High Court of Delhi regarding holding of marriages in farm houses may also be relevant. The High Court has prescribed minimum area for a farm house with sufficient parking inside the farm house, and proper road width for allowing marriages. The commercial activities reportedly agreed to by DDA in residential colonies with a road width of 18 mts. will create a lot of problems in the matter of civic amenities, parking, traffic, and noise (blaring music) pollution.
We feel that the DDA should not have leaked their views regarding mixed use of land particularly when the MPD 2021 is under consideration of the Ministry and a high level Committee has been constituted for the purpose. This certainly amounts to preempting views of the Committee and as has been the case in the past it would be a direct encouragement to builders to proceed to construct and/or convert without waiting for issue of detailed rules
We request you to kindly look into the matter and restrain the DDA from making public such interim views, and you may also consider issuing clarification denying contents of the news item and saying that no such decision has been taken at the Ministry's level. As emphasized in our Note sent to the DDA on 18.1.06, the views of the Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) must be taken into account and their representative(s) associated with the DDA before finalizing the MPD 2021.
We shall feel highly obliged for a line in reply indicating the action taken/proposed to be taken in the matter.