The Delhi Development Authority invited suggestions from the public through a Public Notice to assess the scope for permitting certain additions in DDA and Group Housing Society Flats. It is felt that the DDA flats were not constructed on the assumption that in the future there may be further additions, except of minor alterations. The flats have common walls and random tinkering will endanger the stability of the whole block. We have sent the following letter to the DDA on 20.10.2006

Sub: Additions / Alterations in DDA and Group Housing Society flats.

Dear Sir,

Kindly refer to your public notice issued on the above cited subject inviting suggestions/observations from the public latest by 23.10.2006.

At the outset, we would like to invite your kind attention to the fact that the matter relating to commercialization of residential properties and amendments of building bye-laws allowing increased FAR covered by the notifications dated 7.9.2006 and 15.9.2006 is sub judice. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court of India has restrained the Respondents from issuing of any further Notification without approval of the Apex court. Since some of the issues relating to sew7erage, water, circulation space, parking etc. are common between DDA flats and other developed colonies, we suggest that the DDA may kindly await the outcome of the pending petitions before taking any action of allowing additions / alterations in DDA and Group Housing Society flats.

In DDA colonies existing houses were obviously not constructed on the assumption that in the future there may be further additions to these structures; foundations of these houses may not be able to take the weight of the proposed additional constructions, with the result that there may be serious danger of disaster and collapse of the weaker structures. The flats have common walls and random tinkering with the original structures will endanger the stability of the whole block. There is no scope for any addition or alteration in these structures from engineering point of view as any time attempt to disturb the structure may lead to total collapse. These are the views expressed by a retired Structural Engineer, who for a long time was in-charge of Planning, Design and Construction of DDA flats. He has also opined that no structural engineer would be able to certify additions/alterations without studying the original drawings, which may be hard to locate.

We are informed that the Ministry of Urban Development had filed an affidavit in the High Court of Delhi in CWP2253/2001 indicating that the DDA had constituted a Technical Experts Committee vide order dated 28 th May, 1998 to suggest feasibility of more covered area in DDA flats. The report of the Committee was submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development vide letter dated 11.2.2000. The Urban Development Ministry was reported to be of the considered view that so far DDA flats are concerned, there should be no relaxation and no deviation should be permitted from the original plan. If the allotees of these flats were allowed to have more constructions, these would not only undermine the integrity of the structures, thus endangering the inhabitants within and disturbing the pattern of the circulation-both pedestrians and vehiculars but also lead to a number of complaints and disputes between the flat owners on different floors. It was further observed that if building bye-laws were relaxed unnecessarily, unjustifiably and at the cost of convenience of other citizens, these bye-laws would be rendered useless and law abiding citizens would suffer, thus leading to further urban choas and degeneration of the Master Plan of the city. As such the recommendations contained in the report of the Technical Experts Committee were rejected. Even the Rajya Sabha was reportedly informed of the decision of the Ministry on 29.4.2000.

The Ministry of Urban Development had also issued detailed instructions for dealing with unauthorized constructions vide letter no. J-13036/3/96-DDIIB dt.28.8.2000. In the case of DDA flats it was stated that where constructions have come up beyond the condonable limits, cancellation of allotments should be carried out in addition to the demolition. It is not clear why a matter which has been settled is being re-opened.

In view of the above we suggest that no proposal for allowing further addition/alteration in the DDA flats beyond what has already been allowed should be considered at this stage. The DDA structures are enclosed constructions and weakening of any part will endanger the whole structure. We should not forget that Delhi falls in Seismic Zone IV as per Zoning map prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards. Safety aspect of buildings in Delhi is governed by building bye-laws which take care of structural safety of the buildings.

January-March 2007