Sickly Cow was feeding at the Municipal Garbage Dump, its posterior blocking the road. The Lord of Contemporary Urban Development happened to pass by. Surprised, The Lord asked ‘Why are you not in your Meadow?’ Surprised, Sickly Cow asked, ‘My Meadow?’ and looked in the direction of Fence. Following its gaze, The Lord said, ‘Ah! Fence minds your Meadow. It has settled milch cows, quality excreta is used to grow grass and milk sales will bring revenue. It has also let in some imported pigs to help mind your Meadow.’

Just then a car screeched to a halt and, what with all the nervousness on account of the Lord and the Car, Sickly Cow eased itself on the road. Exasperated, the Lord asked, ‘Why are you not in the Meadow? Why are you obstructing traffic and messing up the place?’ Confused, Sickly Cow stammered, ‘My Lord, but Fence…’ The Lord cut Sickly Cow short and said, ‘Don’t whine about Fence. If you don’t like Fence, change Fence. But leave the Dump and go live in the Meadow or… die.’ So saying, The Lord left.

Sickly Cow went to Fence and said, ‘My Lord has said I must be in the Meadow’. Fence rolled its eyes heavenwards and said, ‘My Lord wants the moon! The Meadow is full. Chaps here want larger plots and lots for calves and piglets. Even the expansion scheme is full.’ Sickly Cow was persistent. ‘My Lord said otherwise I will die.’ Fence was dismissive. ‘Pah! You are managing fine at the Dump.’ Sickly Cow was insistent, ‘My Lord said you, Fence, are for me and I can change you’. Fence sized up Sickly Cow and said, ‘Do you have a leader or celebrity to speak for you? Send her over and I will see what I have to do.’

Sickly Cow came away and told all other Sickly Cows what the Lord had said and what Fence had said. Next morning they arrived in hundreds. Fence was alarmed at their numbers. Friends of Fence said not to worry. ‘They are just a mob without a leader’. On cue Old Fence, hanging around the Meadow ever since the last fence changing, looked up, drooled over the sea of Sickly Cows, amiably ambled to the head of the mob and announced, ‘This New Fence here has eaten up all your grass and driven you to the Dump’. New Fence saw thousands of pairs of accusing cow eyes turn upon it and stammered, ‘No, dear cows, it was Old Fence that ate up your grass. If it weren’t for the pigs I myself would starve…’ New Fence and Old Fence began trading charges. Sickly Cows became righteously riotous. Milch cows and imported pigs looked on from the Meadow. Other Sickly Cows looked on from farther afar. The Lord of CUD looked down from above.

As the pandemonium grew, the Lord switched on his computer, input the scenario and pressed Enter. The screen flashed the default Old-fashioned Urban Development Option. ‘Evict imported pigs. Downsize lots of milch cows. Get the right numbers. Equitably divide the Meadow amongst all cows. Introduce measures to stop fences from eating grass.’ The Lord shook his head and clicked Next. The screen flashed the CUD Option. ‘Leave the Meadow to milch cows and pigs (they keep it green whereas Sickly Cows will mess it up). Let as many Sickly Cows as needed to cool tempers remain in the Dump and pack the others off to some wilderness. Use space that becomes surplus after throwing out Sickly Cows to expand the Meadow. Change the laws that say Dumps are only for garbage, Meadows are for all cows and Fences should not eat the grass.’

The Lord issued necessary directions for the CUD Option to be executed. Some Sickly Cows were packed off to the wilderness, where they starved to death. Milch cows and imported pigs got more Meadow and were happy. Fence grew plump and was happy. Old Fence made plans for next fence changing and was happy. Sickly Cows ate at the same Dump and were, well, not happy, but glad to be left alone and alive. The Lord saw almost everyone happy and was happy. And CUD went on…happily.

Industrious hooligans

In mid-November 2000, most of Delhi’s factory owners and workers closed their factories and took to the streets. On 17 November, 4000 of them held a government engineer captive for hours in Northwest Delhi.1 On 18 November, 1500 of them prevented government officials from coming near their factories in East Delhi and West Delhi was caught in traffic jams as thousands came out to demonstrate.2 On 19 November they were all over the capital. They marched in protest, jamming major arterial roads and throwing traffic out of gear. They roughed up government officials and deflated tyres, forcing the officials to retreat. In places they stoned buses, getting lathi-charged and tear-gassed.3

Politicians of all hues rallied around.4 The Delhi unit of the Congress urged Sheila Dikshit’s Congress government in Delhi to safeguard the interests of the factory owners and workers.5 Madan Lal Khurana, former chief minister of Delhi and senior leader of the Bhartiya Janta Party (the leading party in the ruling coalition at the Centre and the party in power in Delhi before), announced he would spearhead their agitation.6 Opposition politicians supported them. Politicians in power instructed the police to ‘go slow’.7

And on 20 November all hell broke loose. Factory owners and workers became a ‘mob’ that made front-page news with screaming headlines about Delhi being held to ransom, ravaged.8 City page headlines detailed what the ‘mob’ had done.9

On 21 November, althoughthepolice hinted at possible escalation of violence and warned residents of disturbed areas that they would have to bear the cost of additional forces, its ‘toughest’ call, it seems, was handling a 500-strong ‘mob’ that stoned buses and was dispersed by teargas.10 Indeed, with local politicians moving on from the ‘mob game’ on the streets to the ‘blame game’ in the Assembly, the ‘mob’ all but disappeared.11 Factory owners and workers continued to protest and snarl up traffic, but the previous day’s arson and looting did not recur.12

Also on 21 November seventeen-year-old Irfan, ‘a worker in a Walled city-based garment unit’ or, perhaps, ‘a shop worker, who was headed for work’ succumbed to the police bullet injury he had received the previous day.13 (Seventeen-year old Ajab Singh, ‘apparently just a passerby’ who got in the way of another police bullet, and fifty-three-year old Bhiku Ram, another passerby who got in the way of a postal van reversing in panic, had already become casualties of the previous day’s violence.)14 And it was on 21 November as well that the Supreme Court of India said to the Delhi government ‘You have hooligans holding the city to ransom’.15

* * *

The story of how the industrious of Delhi came to be hooligans has its beginning in March 1995 when the Supreme Court, hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 1985, ordered H-category industries to be closed in Delhi. H-category is a list in Delhi’s statutory Master Plan that names various types of hazardous and noxious and/or heavy and large industries that are not permitted in Delhi.

The first thing that resulted from the court’s order was the realization that ‘none of the various departments involved seem to have up-to-date comprehensive lists of industries’.16 From then to the end of this story there was never any clarity on the numbers involved. (The numbers in the following paragraphs are very confusing and have been included to make precisely this point. They are purely incidental to the story being told here.)

In 1995 some lists were placed before the court. The largest comprised 8500 hazardous and noxious industries found in non-industrial areas in a random check of about a fifth of the total units in the city. A second list named 256 hazardous units identified in industrial areas in the mid-1980s. Two more lists (meant to be illustrative) noted seventy-seven big industries and 327 units that had been told to install pollution control devices. Obviously, there were more H-category units, but the total of these numbers placed before the Court became the working figure. Delhi Environment Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, told the Assembly that closure notices would be sent to 9,000 units.17 Subsequently, notices were issued to 1,226, nearly half of which objected to being included in H-category.18 On 8 July 1996, the court ordered closure of the first batch of 168 H-category units by 30 November, a deadline that was met.19

As the court monitored closure of more H-category industries, some contested the criteria for categorization and some sought a ‘third option’ other than shut or shift—of switching to permissible activity.20 The matter of land that became available after closing and shifting became a contentious one (we shall return to that later). The matter of workers’ compensation became the most telling tragedy. In December 1996, the court ordered six years’ wages as compensation if a unit opted to shut rather than shift. This was a significant order since many units had been planning to close, leaving workers in the lurch.21 But non-compliance with the order forced thousands of workers into penury.22 In May 1997, Delhi Minister for Industries H.S. Balli said, ‘the labour department will be coordinating with the management of some industries for payment of compensation within a week’.23 But, over a year later, the deputy commissioner of labour said, ‘We don’t know anything about how many people were unemployed or whether they received compensation or not. We are not a party to the problem.’24 Later there was the case—presumably just one of many—of 2,300 workers affected by the shifting of Birla Textile Mill. Workers alleged there was no factory at the new site—only a structure housing twenty-four machines which had been shifted on which only thirty persons could work. After a favourable court verdict in December 1998, the workers arrived there to report for work and claim wages and shifting allowances. On its part, the management filed a petition asking for a review of all court orders in the matter since 8 July 1996.25

Meanwhile, in 1996, the Delhi government had done a survey that put the total number of industries in the city at over 126,000, including over 97,000 (H- and other category) units in areas not meant for them.26 In April, the court had directed shifting of these ‘non-conforming’ units by 31 December 1996.27 By October, the government was talking of relocating only 40,000 units.28 Subsequently, having begun to acquire land and invited (and received over 52,000) applications for relocation, it persuaded the court to remove the deadline.29 Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma (the BJP was still in power, but the chief minister had changed) said, ‘25,000 units opting for plots up to 100 square metres will be allotted plots before April 1997’.30 But in June 1997 H.S. Balli, the industry minister, was still saying, ‘The process of land acquisition and scrutiny of applications are on’. Meanwhile the Delhi government was paying interest on the Rs 100 crore it had borrowed from the central government for land acquisition, as well as on earnest money (aggregating Rs 270 crore) deposited by those who had applied for relocation.31 In September, Delhi finance minister, parroting what the chief minister had said a year ago, said changes in Delhi Finance Corporation were being considered to allow government aid for relocation.32 The total cost was estimated at Rs 5,000 crore—DFC had only Rs 150 crore—and the possibility of a World Bank loan was being explored.33

In 1998 prices of onions skyrocketed and the BJP government had to pay in the Assembly elections. Sheila Dikshit’s Congress government that replaced it also made little headway in relocating industries. In June 1999 it moved to acquire 800 acres, but ran into problems.34 On land already acquired, no development had started. Subsequently an undertaking of the Railways was appointed to prepare plans for industrial estates, but took a year to submit its report. Delhi Industry Minister, Narender Nath, said that, in any case, only 15,000 units could be accommodated on the land acquired so far35 Total land required to accommodate all the units that had to be shifted was now estimated at 5,000 acres.36 In view of ‘shortage of land’, the government began ‘rethinking its decision to shift all industries’.37 This ‘rethinking’ crystallized into the idea of declaring residential localities where ‘industries comprised more than 70 per cent of the plots’ as industrial areas through an amendment in Delhi’s Master Plan.38 The government decided to seek a two-year extension of the 31 December 1999 deadline that the court had set in September 1999.39 Its affidavit spoke of the new ‘rethinking’ and of 23,000 ‘eligible’ applicants (the ‘eligibility’ criteria were not made clear and nearly 9,500 others filed appeals) and did not mention units that had not applied for relocation (whose number was now put at 25,000).40

* * *

Let us take pause in this saga of misplaced industries and misguided governance to reflect on how this matter came to engage the city’s attention. The matter of industries in areas not meant for them was a land use planning issue. The matter of workers affected by closure of industries was a labour issue. Never in recent history had such matters agitated so greatly the minds of so many urbanites. But this time they did. The credit for this goes to a coincident court case that firmly connected the word ‘polluting’ (the most convenient boogey man of middle and upper class urbanites) with the word ‘industry’.

This was the Maili Yamunacase in which the supreme court, taking suo moto cognisance of a newspaper report on the state of Delhi’s very own and very maili (polluted) Yamuna river, ordered stoppage of discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into the river in February 1996. It ordered the government to build sixteen sewage treatment plants and fifteen common effluent treatment plants (ETPs).41 What followed must surely place the case amongst the most public ones in its genre. Yamuna’s pollution statistics became the talk of Delhi’s cocktail circuit. Delhi’s children got to know that what they’d been calling river was actually shit stream. An expert even said, ‘At present, we can only assess pollution of the sewage in (the) Yamuna as hardly any water is left (in it)’.42 The city gleefully watched the government get a dressing down by the court in hearing after hearing. Many a bureaucratic head rolled.43

The government was moving at its usual pace for the usual reasons and, in case of the Congress government, one unusual reason—of having thought of an ‘alternative’.44 The alternative was to lay a deeper (covered) sewer channel along the Yamuna into which the sewage currently flowing into the river would be diverted, treated at one point and released for agricultural use in neighbouring states in return for raw water to fill the river. In mid-1999 it was reportedly talking of asking the World Bank to fund this scheme, estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crore.45 The media did not report the World Bank’s reaction.

In September 2000 the union environment ministry told the court that sewage treatment plants—which were expected to take care of 85 per cent of the pollution in the Yamuna—would take at least five years to construct.46 It was also not clear if they would really manage to stop sewage pollution in the river altogether, considering that even existing plants were mostly dysfunctional because of power cuts or connecting sewer lines not having been laid, besides which the dilapidated trunk sewage system needed refurbishing at an estimated cost of Rs 435 crore.47 Even common ETPs in planned industrial estates which were expected to take care of most of the rest of the pollution would take time. Till the end of 2000 not one was operational.48 It was also not clear if and how far these would help in the present circumstances. They would, at best, make waste water clean, though the water would very likely still need to go through sewage treatment plants, which were yet to be made. In any case, industrial solid waste also had to go somewhere. Since no special sites for industrial waste existed, it would end up either in sewers or in garbage and from there, into the Yamuna or, worse, ordinary landfills sites from where it could contaminate soil and ground water.49

Obviously, cleaning the Yamuna needed more creative management of the city’s sewage and industrial waste than, say, installing ETPs. Yet, when the court in September 1999 had ordered the government to stop discharge of industrial effluent into the Yamuna by 1 November, all the government had done was to direct polluting industries to install ETPs!50 This act of government was made all the more arbitrary by its timing. So far industries in areas meant for industries had been asked to contribute towards installation of common ETPs and industries in areas not meant for industries were awaiting relocation by a deadline just days away. Now all were asked to invest in individual ETPs, for which the government also forgot to lay down any norms.51

Expectedly, the court deadline came and went. This was followed by strictures against the government, followed by a hasty closure drive in which notices were issued to 1,384 industrial units and 983 were sealed.52 These, it turned out, included non-polluting units and units that had already installed ETPs, and there were protests, followed by a Cabinet meeting, followed by a statement by the industry minister, who said industry owners were being given another chance to prove that they had installed ETPs.53 Within a week 900 applications for review were filed.54 Ten days after they had been sealed, 372 units were de-sealed.55 On 24 January, the court ordered they be re-sealed.56

In March 2000 the court set a new deadline of 28 April, making the chief secretary responsible for meeting it.57 Chief Secretary Omesh Saigal chalked out a plan, but was transferred.58 On April 28 (by when the Delhi government had chaotically closed 2,855 polluting units with no consequent improvement in the Yamuna), the court issued notice to the new chief secretary, P.S. Bhatnagar, to explain why a fine should not be levied for non-compliance.59 More units were chaotically closed with no consequent improvement in maili river. In May the court slapped a fine of Rs.10000 on the Delhi government for failing to clean the Yamuna. 60 Once again, more units were chaotically closed with no consequent improvement. In July, the court warned the administration of a stringent penalty if the quality of river water was not improved in three months.61 And yet again, more units were chaotically closed with no consequent improvement …

* * *

The turn-of-the-millenium court orders in the maili Yamuna case had two very serious impacts on the matter of relocation of industries from areas not meant for industries (and, indeed, on the practice and theory of urban governance itself).

The first impact was on the industries themselves. So far the industrial units had been watching the court repeatedly pull up the government for its failures to control pollution in the river and ensure that industries in Delhi were located in accordance with the Master Plan. Now they found themselves paying a preposterously disproportionate price for these failures. It became inevitable that they would, sooner or later, protest against the arbitrary and high-handed sealing, de-sealing, re-sealing and the obnoxious ‘polluter-hatao instead of pollution-hatao’ style of governance. Indeed, the lieutenant-governor of Delhi implicitly acknowledged this possibility in a noting in May 2000 saying that the government’s failure to actually establish that an offence had been committed before sealing the units could throw them open to prosecution as such closure threatened the employees’ right to livelihood.62

The second, and perhaps more far-reaching, impact was on the public perception of industries. As mentioned earlier, this case inseparably linked the words ‘polluting’ and ‘industry’. After September 2000, when the court, fed-up with the Delhi government’s inaction in the matter of relocating industries, ordered the union urban development ministry to take charge, this association was further reinforced.63 The ministry, instead of outlining a comprehensive approach to solve the problem of a hundred thousand industries in areas not meant for them, only announced immediate plans to shift or shut a few ‘polluting industries’, without clarifying that these were not the only industries that were in areas not meant for industries.

In the matter of the sewage-filled Yamuna, with the government in spite of strict monitoring by the supreme court having done no more than close polluting industries, the public at large had already been led (very mistakenly) to believe that all river pollution was caused by industries. Now, in the matter of a hundred thousand industries located in areas not meant for them, with the government(s) under strict monitoring by the supreme court still speaking only of shunting ‘polluting units’ out of Delhi, the public at large was led (very mistakenly) to believe that all industries were polluting. In the media-managed minds of Delhi’s urbanites, otherwise caught between splurging surplus incomes on phoren branded goods and haggling over prices of desi items cheaply produced in the city’s service industries, the industrious of Delhi had been painted as hooligans long before the Supreme Court of India described them thus.

Villainous Planners

At the centre of the entire controversy surrounding industries that were currently located in areas not meant for industries was the Master Plan. When the court set the ball rolling and said these industries had to be shifted because they were ‘non-conforming’, it said so with reference not to pollution laws but to the Master Plan for Delhi, which spells out where industries may or may not be. The Master Plan does the same for houses, offices, shops, green areas, etc. It spells all this out in the form of a broad land use drawing—a map of the city (including proposed expansions) in which land for different uses is marked in different colours. This drawing is based on ground realities at the time of making the plan and a set of principles that form the vision for the future. It is supported by an explanatory text that outlines this basis and provides detailed guidelines for the colours in the drawing.

One could think of the role of the Master Plan in relation to urban land as one would think of the role of an expenditure budget for family income. Both can help—but not guarantee—efficient and equitable distribution of resources for everyone’s needs and wants. Mere existence of a budget does not necessarily ensure that those in charge of expenditure will not flout it to buy laptops for themselves while children go without uniforms. Mere existence of a Master Plan similarly will not stop the powerful from squandering precious urban land to build unnecessary unplanned cyber parks or world-class shopping complexes as monuments to themselves while letting the poor live and work in locations marked in the landuse drawing for other city needs. Also, both are not carved in stone and allow for mid-course corrections to meet unanticipated needs. However, mindless or willful changes to either would very likely mean that some gain at the cost of others.

It was a demand for one such change that gave a curious twist to this tale, perhaps the only tale of worker unrest in which slogans were raised not against any management but against a city’s master plan.

* * *

When H-category industries were ordered to be closed in 1996, a common forum of thirty non-governmental organizations brought out a report that came down heavily on Delhi’s Master Plan and branded it anti-people.64 Four years and two city governments after the court had pressed the ‘Start’ button, the ranks of Plan-bashers had swelled, with the government of the day and the former government leading the anti-Plan tirade.

The groundwork for the big Plan-bashing party was laid with the Congress government’s brainwave (in the middle of 1999) to get ‘non-conforming’ industries to ‘conform’ to the Plan by amending the Plan.65 Till then, in its efforts to solve the problem, it had managed to allot 300 units in a yet-to-be-completed flatted factory complex and 500 plots in a partially developed industrial area just outside the city.66 It had been routinely announcing its plans to develop the land acquired in 1995 by the previous government, but so far, a ‘massive sign board announcing that the site was for “Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Udyog Nagar” was the only indication of impending industrialisation’ there.67 At this rate, it would take the government many many years to solve the problem. A Master Plan amendment, on the other hand, could in one elegant and quick stroke change much of the problem into the solution, while earning precious brownie points to boot.

This style of ‘urban development management’ was quite typical of the Congress government of the time, which had already mooted similar proposals in respect of slum clusters and unauthorized colonies, and this suggestion may have been made almost ‘routinely’ by it. The Plan-bashing was precipitated a year later when urban development minister Jagmohan (whose ministry was the one that had to ultimately authorize any Plan amendment) turned the proposal down. This reaction was also typical of the union Minister known for his authoritarian clean-up act. As the head of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in the 1970s he had masterminded for the then Congress government the massive relocation of 80,000 slum families to city outskirts. As the union minister for urban development in the BJP-led government he was now mounting massive bulldozing interventions, including packing off slums and polluting industries to live together happily ever after in a place meant to be a self-contained sub-city of Delhi. Many in government and among NGOs were unhappy with Jagmohan’s interventions and for them his categorical rejection of the Delhi government’s proposal to call some residential areas industrial seems to have become the proverbial last straw.

In September 2000, Jagmohan’s ministry in its affidavit said, ‘no amendment in the master plan of Delhi may be done to cover inaction or failure on the part of the local government.’68 BJP leader and former Delhi industry minister H. S. Balli and city Congress chief Subhash Chopra both threatened agitation.69 Former BJP chief minister Madan Lal Khurana and Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit both said the problem could not be solved unless the Master Plan was amended.70 Former chief executive councilor, Jag Pravesh Chandra, in an edit page article, said the Master Plan was not sacrosanct and lieutenant-governor Vijai Kapoor at a seminar also said DDA should lay down flexible guidelines for infrastructure.71

To-amend-or-not-to-amend remained a simmering question till November 2000. When the industrious turned hooligans, it became a burning question. Sheila Dikshit appealed to the Centre to change the Master Plan.72 Madan Lal Khurana announced he was forming the Master Plan Badlo Action Committee to begin an agitation to change the Master Plan.73 (A month later, the Delhi Congress also launched a ‘Nyay Yudh’ for the same.)74 BJP mayor Shanti Desai called an emergency meeting to talk about amending the Master Plan.75 A delegation of BJP MPs from Delhi (other than Jagmohan) met the prime minister to seek his intervention for amending the Master Plan.76 The Congress Legislative Party also passed a resolution to adjourn the Assembly the next day and march to the prime minister’s residence to seek his intervention for amending the Master Plan.77

In parliament, Jagmohan ‘bent a little, but did not break’ and ‘yielded an inch but refused a mile’. He said the Master Plan could be amended, if necessary, but only to acquire more land to relocate industries and to review the definition of household industries in terms of allowing greater power consumption and number of employees. The opposition walked out in protest.78 Even ruling party members said the Congress government in Delhi was responsible for ‘messing up’, mainly because it did not request the supreme court to allow it to amend the Master Plan and, instead, repeatedly assured it that it could solve the problem otherwise.79 In an unprecedented move, the Delhi Assembly passed, after the four BJP MLAs present had staged a walk out, a censure motion against Jagmohan, expressing ‘strong disapproval’ over the statement made by him in parliament.80

* * *

Through all this no one had the exact numbers. How many of Delhi’s industries were in areas planned for them? How many were in areas not meant for them? How many were licensed and by whom? How many were polluting and by what standards? How much did they contribute to polluting the Yamuna? How many were otherwise problematic—either for themselves or for their neighbours or the city?

It was a shocking comment on the state of governance that, despite five years of involvement of the supreme court, these basic statistics were missing from the debate. It was especially appalling coming from the government of Sheila Dikshit who claimed to be green ‘by choice, not by chance’, wholeheartedly involved in a Rs 40 crore World Bank project for studies on infrastructure and environmental imperatives as well as a project for hi-tech digital mapping for Delhi to provide relevant planning data at the click of a mouse.81 Surely, with her heart in the right place and so much public investment already made on understanding the state of affairs, basic figures were not too much to ask for. But they remained elusive—at the click of a mouse or otherwise.

With the factory owners and workers on the streets and with both Parliament and Delhi Assembly in session, several figures were thrown up that, howsoever dubious, must be considered because the legislators were considering them and politicians had taken over planning. Madan Lal Khurana said in the Lok Sabha that the total units involved in the current impasse numbered 126,000.82 Kapil Sibal (a Congress MP) said in the Rajya Sabha that only 4,000 of these were polluting.83 Jagmohan said in the Rajya Sabha, referring to the report of the high-powered committee set up by the court, that out of 43,045 applications scrutinized by October 1996, 39,166 did not qualify for grant of license under the Master Plan (meaning that at least 3,879 did).84 Delhi Minister for Industries Narender Nath said in the Delhi Assembly that redefining household industries would benefit only a small number of units, variously reported by the media as 3,306, 6,000-odd, and not-even-10,000.85

It did seem that polluting units (which all agreed must go), units that could be licensed (which all agreed must stay) and units that would become permissible after redefining household industries (which all agreed also must stay) did not add up to very much. The large majority of industries operating in areas not meant for industries faced a choice between two options. The Congress or Sheila Option(which might have been the BJP or Madan Lal Khurana option as well, except that the former chief minister had not announced it during his tenure) was to let them be. The Jagmohan Option was to relocate them some 30 km away or even farther.

The justifications that the section of politicians and civil society espousing the Sheila Optionput forth hinged on words like ‘humaneness’ and ‘pragmatism’ and were wide-ranging. The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers would be affected.86 The economic base amounting to thousands of crores would be wiped out.87 Such massive relocation would require lots of money and time.88 Development of new industrial estates would also require the Master Plan to be amended.89 .Master Plan was for people and not vice versa .90 The Master Plan was not sacrosanct and if the Constitution could be amended so could the Master Plan.91 The Master Plan had been amended before such as when unauthorized colonies were regularized.92 The Master Plan had to be amended if problems of polluting industries, unauthorized colonies and shops in residential areas were to be solved.93

The justifications for the Jagmohan Option(largely articulated by Jagmohan himself) hinged on phrases like ‘urban discipline’.94 Relocating industries in proper industrial areas, where environmental and health guidelines were followed, would give better working conditions and housing facilities to the workers. The Master Plan was made for planned growth. Delhi was turning into a slum. This ‘urban indiscipline’ caused 40,000 deaths every year and nearly 1.2 billion activity days were lost due to ill health (according to WHO). Should the government condone wrongdoing if it is done on a large scale? How would those clamouring for Master Plan amendments react if the posh residential areas in which they lived were to become full of industrial units?

For the industrial units, the Sheila Option promised status quo ante. They could continue to work in the conditions that the other half of the city could not even bear to read about, conditions that had engaged the attention of the apex court for five years and pre-occupied the city executive and its politicians for at least two of those. The Jagmohan Option offered the promise of better conditions, but at least 30 km away, in yet-to-be-developed sites, in smaller plots and at prices that did not provide value for money. Not much of a choice in a free country! The Sheila Optionrequired the Master Plan to be amended to let the industries be where they were. The Jagmohan Optionrequired the Master Plan to be amended to let them be relocated elsewhere (where rural areas would get messed up so that industrial areas could be hastily developed).

The villain of the piece was obvious, then. ‘Down with the Master Plan’ became the battle cry in the capital at the end of 2000 when master plans in several cities in the country were being revised or becoming due for revision.

Grass-eating Fences

The Master Plan for Delhi came into force in 1962 to provide a blueprint for planned development of the city. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had already been constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1957 with the express mandate to promote and secure development of Delhi according to Plan. To facilitate Plan implementation the government also came out with a progressive policy for socialisation of urban land through public acquisition of the entire area proposed to be urbanised by 1981. This policy was meant to ensure availability of adequate land at the right time and at reasonable price, control land values and prevent concentration of land in few hands to safeguard the interests of the poor. A revolving fund was created for development and disposal of land acquired under this policy. The Delhi Development Act, the policy for large scale acquisition, development and disposal of land and the revolving fund to help operationalise it provided a uniquely facilitating framework for DDA to ‘promote and secure’ development according to the Master Plan.

Like any good plan, Delhi’s Master Plan did not provide an either or choice between environmental and economic imperatives. It supported industrial development in the interest of balanced economic development, especially as it would be ‘undesirable to increase the proportion of Government employment in the occupational structure of the city’.95 It did say it would be unwise to locate large and heavy industries in Delhi. This was not because it considered them ‘polluting’ and wanted to export them to some place else, but because they would create an undesirable industrial bias in the economy of the capital and because Delhi did not have enough water and power to sustain them.96 It included, accordingly, lists of undesirable industries and prohibited industries. Together, these lists are substantively the same as the H-category list that replaced them in the comprehensively amended Plan approved in 1990 and which was the basis of the court order of March 1995.

For other types of industries (including ones at the centre of the impasse in Delhi in 2000), the Master Plan used techniques like industrial zoning (the basis of the concept of ‘non-conforming’ units greatly touted later on) to obviate detrimental environmental impacts of economically essential industrial functions. The logic of industrial zoning is that it is easier to service industries—in terms of effluent treatment and waste sites as well as ordinary water, power and transport—when they are together rather than when they are mixed up with other uses needing less or different infrastructure.

When the 1962 Master Plan was prepared, there were 8,000 industrial units in Delhi occupying an area of 1,000 acres. There were only two planned industrial districts and most industries were scattered all over the city and required relocation.97 The Plan set aside 5,761 acres of land for industries within the urbanisable limits proposed for 1981. This land (unlike in the Jagmohan Option) was appropriately distributed with a view to ensuring that ‘industrial districts are located in right relationship with residential areas’.98

The bulk of land reserved for industrial use was in the form of industrial estates.99 Besides these, the Plan proposed flatted factories—multi-storied structures near residential areas for small-scale, non-nuisance industries.100 In (the then) central areas these were mainly for existing units that needed to be relocated from nearby. In (the then) outlying areas, they were for new units. For the former, 192 acres, and for the latter, 168 acres, were reserved.101

The Master Plan provided for combating industrial pollution without making a big issue of it. Industrial estates were separated from residential areas by buffers.102 While most existing industries were permitted to shift to any industrial area, noxious ones could only shift to extensive industrial zones (designed to handle higher levels of pollution) even if they were by definition not ‘extensive’.103

The 1962 Master Plan (unlike the ‘options’ forty years later) did not envisage forced relocation. Enough choice of areas was provided and no one was expected to have to shift to some wilderness miles away from the city. It stated that the relocation process ‘must be largely governed by the fact that there should be the minimum amount of dislocation of production and the workers should not be put to undue hardship’.104 It laid down a time schedule that distinguished between noxious, nuisance and non-nuisance industries and allowed extensions to industries with higher capital value, more workers or more floor space per worker.105 It said that industries to be relocated should be given priority in allotments in new industrial sites and incentives, such as more land than they occupied at present, loans, etc.106 For relocation of small industries not suited to flatted factories, but unlikely to be able to afford industrial plots, it said government should develop industrial estates where space could be rented out to them and that, obviously, such ‘estates should be built up in comparatively central areas’.107

A mid-term appraisal of the Master Plan implementation in 1974 found the number of industrial workers had been under-estimated and space standards over-estimated. After making necessary adjustments, industrial land requirement for 1981 was modified marginally upwards to 6,500 acres.108 How much of this was developed is, like other numbers in this story, a mystery that even the Estimates Committee of Parliament, with all its privileges, could not unravel. According to a table in its report of May 1984, of a total industrial area of 2148 acres developed by all agencies, DDA had developed 2,700 acres!109 In all of two decades since the Master Plan came into force in 1962, we had managed to relocate only 3,300 units (and the Jagmohan Option in 2000 spoke of ‘relocating’ nearly 100,000). In all, DDA had developed just 9,000 industrial plots.110 In 1981 there were 46,000 industrial units—a majority of them, naturally, in areas not reserved for industries.111

In 1990, the revised Master Plan for Delhi was approved. In this, industries already ‘prohibited’ in Delhi as per the 1962 Plan were again prohibited and ones that had continued or come up in spite of being prohibited were given three years to shift.112 The list of industries ‘prohibited’ in the 1962 Plan was expanded and included under the title ‘Hazardous and Noxious Industries’ as Section A in the H-category. (The objectionable ‘characteristic’ listed against each type, incidentally, is mainly fire hazard, not pollution.)113 The types of industries already identified as ‘undesirable’ in 1962 were listed in Section B in the H-category under the title of ‘Heavy and Large Industries’.114 No new industries of these types or of the eighty-one types of ‘Extensive Industries’ included in the F-category were henceforth to be allowed in Delhi. Existing Heavy and Large Industries were to be shifted out according to the plan and policy for the National Capital Region.115 Existing F-category industries in areas not meant for them were to be relocated in plots of at least 400 square metres in existing extensive industry zones and in new ones ‘confined within about 265 hectares (or 650 acres) in two locations’ in proposed urban extensions.116 (The Jagmohan Option circa 2000wanted to pack them all off elsewhere, including larger industrial areas in the urban extension, in plots of less than 250 square metres.)

In effect, only light and service industries were permitted in Delhi in the future, primarily because these service the city and are mostly small (77 per cent had less than ten and 91 per cent less than twenty workers in 1981).117 Accordingly, besides being allowed in industrial estates, they were permitted in commercial areas and flatted factories all over the city. The plan also defined small units (employing up to five persons and using power up to 1 kw) in seventy types of industries as household industries and permitted them in residential areas on the ground floor.118 (It was this definition that all were agreeable to revise to allow consumption up to 5 kw of power and permission on other floors as well in 2000.)119

The revised Master Plan approved in 1990 also allowed for three industrial clusters to be surveyed, redeveloped and regularized after upgrading.120 (In 2000 the Sheila Optionwas asking for many more to be regularized without being redeveloped and the three to which Jagmohan grudgingly consented were the ones already mentioned in the 1990 Master Plan document).121

On pollution (against which this holy war was being waged in the name of the Master Plan), the 1990 Plan only speaks of eighty-two water-polluting units, 30 per cent of which were in areas not meant for industries. For these it only says that they be shifted to industrial areas, where all polluting units must make individual or joint arrangements for effluent treatment.122

* * *

The most striking difference between the Master Plan land use drawings of 1962 and 1990 is that a large chunk of purple (the colour for industrial use) gave way to yellow (the colour for residential use). This was partly in view of most service industries being in the ‘tiny-sector’ and because of policy decisions to restrict other industries and partly because of emergent priorities such as regularizing unauthorized colonies (in 1977) and allotting land to housing cooperatives. At least some of the industries that were being forced out of Delhi in 2000 were really paying the price for these older changes in the Master Plan (besides the related governmental failure to install sewage lines in regularized unauthorized colonies which contributed to polluting the Yamuna).

Incidentally, alongside the imbroglio about units that were never told about the land meant for them (either by government agencies for developing, licensing or policing them or by political and NGO entities claiming to work in their interest), another 1,071 unauthorized residential colonies were again waiting to be regularized. Which colour in the land use plan would change to yellow and who would become hooligans years later as a result of this are points to ponder. Meanwhile, the land use already changed from purple to yellow was not the only land that got stolen from the kitty of the industries.

Some of the extensive (F-category) industries at the centre of the controversy in 2000 had presumably come up after 1990 when they were forbidden. But who’s to ask how many, how and why? In urban extensions, only 265 hectares had been earmarked for shifting some such (pre-1990) industries. At the minimum plot size of 400 square metres prescribed for them and allowing 25 per cent for streets and facilities, this land would have been enough for only about 5,000 units. Yet, the Jagmohan Option was bent on stuffing many more ‘extensive’ industries of unspecified vintage in puny plots in urban extensions—all in the name of the Master Plan. The rest of the pre-1990 ‘non-conforming’ (rather than unauthorized) F-category industries were to go to industrial areas already proposed in the 1962 Plan. The mid-term appraisal in 1974 had noted that plot sizes in private cooperative estates were greater than in DDA’s estates and recommended a review of requirements and utilization. Yet F-category industries were being axed before estates meant for them had been fully and efficiently (re)developed.

After discounting F-category units, (redefined) household units and H-category units that may have got left out in the court-ordered closure exercise because they were not polluting and just otherwise hazardous, the number of light and service industries could have been about two-thirds of the total number of industries in places not meant for industries.123 In industrial estates for such industries, the Master Plan proposes a wide range of plot sizes—from 30 to 1000 square metres. The average, based on suggested proportions of different sizes, comes to just over 200 square metres. In 1990, about 1,533 hectares were set aside for new estates in urban extensions for such units.124 After allowing for streets and community facilities, this quantum of land could easily accommodate 50,000 such units and if larger plots are disallowed it could accommodate more. This is what the Jagmohan Optionseemed to be wanting. While it is possible to do such a ‘fitting’ exercise, it makes no sense because service industries, by definition, service the city and cannot be lumped altogether in some place miles away from anywhere. This is precisely why the 1990 Master Plan proposes that these 1,533 hectares be spread over sixteen industrial estates. But who’s to ask why urban extensions yet to come up were being given an unplanned start? Or if all the land in the industrial estates meant for these units elsewhere had been fully and efficiently utilized already? Or who else had got or would get that real estate in the city?

The Master Plan did not limit industrial options for light and service industries to plots. A lot of such units were meant to be in flatted factories. The industrial space that was envisaged in this option could have accommodated 30,000 to 40,000 units of 50 square metres each (the size of the 300 flatted factory units alloted in 2000).125 In reality, none of these flatted factories had been built in spite of having been proposed in 1962, strongly recommended again in 1974 in the mid-term appraisal, and proposed yet again in 1990. To get an idea of what happened to this land, take the case of the century-old Delhi Cloth Mills. In 1962, the Plan suggested that it be shifted and 27 acres of the land thus cleared in the heart of Delhi be used to set up flatted factories. This was enough for nearly 3,300 units of 50 square metres each. The DCM was to shift by 1965 or, latest, by 1967. It finally closed in 1989. By then, in addition to 52 acres of freehold land that the Mill already owned, DDA had given it 11.7 acres of leasehold land for expansion. In 1989, the then Lieutenant-Governor Romesh Bhandari ordered that DCM be allowed to use all 63.7 acres it owned for its proposed project to build flatted factories and multi-storied housing. In 1991, the supreme court upheld DDA’s claim to the leasehold land.126 But in July 1994, the union urban development ministry directed that this land be restored to DCM.127 The flatted factories that should have come up on the site in the 1960s were still not there in 2000. But who’s to ask when they would come and for whom after the clean sweep was done?

As per the 1962 Plan industries were allowed only in industrial areas. But in 1990, specified types of units were also allowed in planned commercial areas. Surely thousands of units could have been thus accommodated. When plan amendments were approved in 1990, work was underway on the design of one of the three urban extensions, Dwarka. This one is in a different direction from the other two extensions (Rohini and Narela) and eminently suited to locating one of the two extensive industry zones proposed in urban extensions. Besides, it was also supposed to accommodate some of the sixteen light and service industrial estates proposed. Indeed, around 6 per cent of the area in Dwarka was reserved for industries. But the government wrote to DDA to say that, in view of the policy to restrict industries, industrial allocation should be curtailed and commercial allocation (in which light and service industries are also permissible) increased instead. Although proposals to amend the Master Plan to this effect finally did not come through, the industrial component in the upcoming township was dropped.128 But no one seems to have monitored the impact of this significant policy decision, taken while the matter of industrial land use was before the apex court.

On the other hand, there is perhaps no planned commercial area—in Dwarka or elsewhere—where Master Plan provisions for industries have been consciously implemented. A notable case in point is a state-of-art community centre (commercial area meant, as per the Master Plan, to serve a local population of about 100,000) developed in the 1990s by HUDCO, designed by a leading private architect and built by a leading corporate developer. In 1990, HUDCO was still supposedly focussed on low-income housing. But the union urban development ministry decided to get some exclusive housing built through it on a prime piece of real estate very close to South Extension, an up-market commercial area in south Delhi.129 So splendid was the housing scheme HUDCO came up with, that it must have found Master Plan norms for the community centre it was to build next to it rather tame. So, it planned a ‘community centre’ which had guesthouses, restaurants, a five-star hotel, a shopping arcade and cultural centre.130 Of course, such a plan had no place for messy industries, though the Master Plan permits 140 types of industries in a community centre. But who’s to question the combined urban development indulgences of premier urban designers and developers in government, corporate and private professional sectors working in partnership?

There is also the matter of the land vacated by shifting of H-category industries. In May 1996 the court had asked owners of these plots to surrender two-thirds of the land to DDA for community use. Further, it said, ‘the most important community need which is wholly deficient and needed urgently is to provide for lung spaces’.131 On the rest of the land it permitted one-and-a-half times the floor area ratio (FAR) normally permissible to help owners ‘meet the cost of relocation’.132 When it was brought to the court’s notice that several units would take advantage of this ‘land use package’ by selling the land, leaving workers to fend for themselves, it ordered six years’ wages as compensation for the workers if an owner opted to close rather than shift.133 As mentioned, this order was rarely complied with. A follow-up study also reported that most owners had enough capital and were simply not interested in paying.134 Nor were they in any hurry to surrender their real estate to DDA. A ‘grey area’ was conveniently noticed in the order. Owners felt DDA should pay compensation and leave to them the choice of what land they hand over. DDA, on its part, saw no reason to pay compensation or be stuck with problematic sites, such as ones mired in court cases.135 Four years after the order, not one square inch had been handed over to DDA. In May 2000, the court said the owners were not entitled to compensation beyond the extra FAR and ordered them to surrender the stipulated portion of land to DDA by 28 May, failing which DDA had to file applications before the district judge by 23 June. The district judge would execute the court’s order of May 1996 and report compliance in four weeks thereafter.136 On 24 June 2000, by when DDA had filed one ‘incomplete and vague’ application, the district judge asked it to file site plans of the lands it wanted to take over. DDA filed a few site plans and twenty-six owners filed objections; DDA filed replies. The court over-ruled the objections through separate orders and some owners filed review petitions. On 3 August 2000 the court issued warrants for taking possession of the land to be surrendered—for all of just nine factories which had been shutdown.137 Two days later the bailiff returned to say that the warrants could not be executed as the places were ‘encroached and closed’.138 Who’s to ask if this is how we ‘manage public land’ —especially when it is real estate for the rich—even as we always seem to be terribly short of it when it comes to the poor?

But this is not the main point in the matter of the land spared by shifting H-category units at the end of the 1990s. The point to be noted is that those industries that existed prior to 1962 were to have closed by 1965 or latest by 1967; those that had come up during 1962-1990 should not have come up at all, but in 1990 they were ‘condoned’ and given till 1993 to shift; and those that had come up after 1990 should also not have come up and had not been ‘condoned’ so far. In effect, industries that should not have begun operations after 1962 and, if existing before that, closed down latest by 1967 were being gifted precious industrial land as an incentive to close down at the end of the 1990s. The 1990 plan document does not mention incentives (only a three-year limit for closing). In 1962, the Plan did suggest incentives, but these came with a time limit. Surely, even the oldest amongst these industries were not entitled to benefits beyond what they could have claimed latest till 1967. Many (including the nine against which the district judge issued warrants in August 2000) had been occupying space not meant for them in industrial estates meant for other industries. Their owners were now being generously allowed to change to a conforming industrial activity on the same site if they so desired. In effect, ‘yet-to-come-up’ industries were being allowed a greater claim on scarce industrial land in Delhi while so many other ‘old’ ones were being unceremoniously closed or shunted out on the grounds that there was no more industrial land available.

The Master Plan says land spared by shifting H-category units is to be used for ‘making up the deficiency, as per the needs of the community, based on norms’ given in the Plan and if the land is not needed for this ‘it will be used as per prescribed land use.’139 From everything else in the Plan, ‘community’ is arguably meant in the sense of ‘local resident community’. In the case of industries closed on sites not meant for them, the ‘community’ could be in need of ‘lung spaces’. Equally it could be in need of schools or hospitals or flatted factories—all as per norms. In case of industries closed in industrial estates, there is no ‘community’ as such, except perhaps workers in shanties badly in need of housing. The Master Plan also limits land to be left for parks and green buffers in industrial estates to 8 per cent in estates for extensive industries and 12 per cent in estates for light and service industries.140 This is to be ensured on the whole while designing the layout (it is not the norm to be followed for each individual plot). Industrial land, it must be remembered, is precious for the city’s economic well being. Like commercial land it provides workspaces for the city at convenient locations and with necessary facilities. But unlike commercial areas, it can be ‘saved’ under zoning laws from market forces that tend to overly commercialize work areas to the detriment of convenience and efficiency concerns underlying landuse decisions. To put more parks into industrial areas than are necessary to create essential buffers is sub-optimal use of public land. To do so when people in the streets are crying for a small piece of industrial land for units crucial not only to their but also to the city’s economic survival is very poor planning indeed. But who’s to ask when and how colour pencils meant for modifying land use drawings all became green? Or when and why it was decreed that grass is more important than cows?

Planning for the Past

The Great Terrain Robbery is the longest playing film in the history of contemporary urban development. It is also one whose real story line is seldom seen, what with so many other louder and lewder goings-on.

Up to a point the jamboree that grew around the matter of industries in Delhi was just another of these goings on—portraying rank incompetence as benign humaneness, wanton contempt of law as considerate pragmatism and authoritarian greening as urban discipline. But by casting the Master Plan as the villain, the ‘filmmakers’ made this jamboree worthy of the climax scene in this ‘film’. After all, terrain robbery could be defined as robbery only as long as there was a Master Plan to define who ‘owned’ the terrain, much like other robberies are definable only as long as there are defined rights to property. With the industrious themselves driven to raise slogans against the Master Plan that defines and protects their entitlements to the use of land in the city, land meant for them no longer needed to be robbed, just taken, from their kitty.

The Master Plan, like all plans and laws, is not perfect. More importantly, it is all that stands between precious public land remaining a public good and it becoming real estate in the hands of private individuals (including public figures), and between public land owning agencies (an oxymoron if there was one!) remaining custodians and becoming owners. But the difference between ‘failure of the Plan’ and the ‘failure of Plan implementation’ was, perhaps, too subtle. As was the fact that those loudly blaming the Plan were precisely the ones who shouldered – even if they did not realise or feel – the collective guilt of failure of Plan implementation for all these years.

What happened to the Master Plan— indeed to the notion of planned urban development—in the capital in 2000 was a nightmare for many good old-fashioned town planners. Both the country’s leading political parties were agitating on the streets against it. Many self-styled ‘experts’ in allied or unrelated disciplines had joined in taking pot shots at it. Much-encouraged politicians were announcing, also in matters other than industrial relocation, urban development decisions in the capital that had no basis in its statutory Master Plan. After all, with so many placards of so many protesters condemning it and nearly all of the rest of Delhi laughing at it, who would dare say, ‘But the Master Plan does not allow this’.

Nothing trains planners to win friends and influence people the way only politicians and those with social skills that form NGOs can. Moreover, many planners, especially the ones who know the details, work for government and could say little as their political bosses became official spokespersons for and against the Master Plan, commenting on it only to reinforce their ‘vision’. A few individual professionals did (try to) speak out in defence of the Master Plan, but they were no match for the anti-Plan tirade of the much more media-savvy politicians and NGOs. Institutional support for the Master Plan should have come from professional bodies, like the Institute of Town Planners, and schools of planning, like the premier School of Planning and Architecture. (Ironically both are located in Delhi.) But the former, like most professional institutes, is more a club of people with the same professional qualifications than an active platform for real professionals, and the latter, like most institutions of higher learning, is unfortunately not unduly agitated by the declining perceived worth of the profession. August ‘professional’ institutions all but played Nero while the Master Plan—the quintessential basis of the planning profession—all but burned on the streets of Delhi.

Planning for the future was well on its way to becoming passe. Planning for the past was hot, hip and happening, leaving those in charge free to have their cake and eat it too. They could become humane and pragmatic and ‘regularize’ those who had missed the bus to planned development and add to vote banks. Or they could become all disciplined and throw them out if they bothered someone who mattered or if the land they occupied began to look like worthwhile real estate, and add to ‘note’ banks. Those in charge were already doing this in some measure—but only in some measure—in respect of unauthorized colonies, slums, farmhouses, banquet halls, shops and showrooms, petrol pumps, etc. Now they could do it with gay abandon simply by rolling their eyes heavenwards and saying the words ‘Master Plan’ in an exasperated sort of way. The license to amend the Plan at will was what they had gained out of just weeks of effort to undermine public faith in it (it could hardly have been more effective if it had been carefully orchestrated).

This reduced the forthcoming exercise of revising Delhi’s Master Plan, which would become due for revision in 2001, to a redundant farce. But no one was asking to scrap it, only to amend it. The Master Plan—especially a ‘flexible’ Master Plan—is handy to flaunt as proof of planned endeavour for soliciting funding, besides which it provides necessary information to play the real estate markets. The Master Plan is not too bad provided you do not have to take the ‘Master’ in it too seriously, provided planners with their colour pencils are willing to see that future does not have to conform to the Plan and, instead, that the Plan can conform to the past. That, perhaps, was why professional planning institutions, despite their failure to adequately defend the Master Plan, were not asked to show cause why they should be allowed to continue occupying prime urban land or otherwise existing to lesser or larger extent at the cost of tax payers. The Master Plan and those trained to make it still had their uses for the real and venal gods of contemporary urban development.

* * *

Urban land (like all resources characterized by limited supply, high demand and competing and vested interests) calls for careful planning and rigorous plan implementation for efficient and equitable use. Thus far master plans have been largely careful in ensuring space for all. But failures in plan implementation have generally resulted in the powerful capturing more urban land than is their just due. Thus there are farmhouses, large industries, big showrooms, etc, where none were intended. In the process, small homes and establishments have been pushed into slums and slum-like conditions. And large homes and establishments also contribute to slumming by leading to shortages of water, electricity, parking, etc, since (planned) infrastructure provision did not anticipate them. Indeed, urban equity and carrying capacity concerns are intrinsically connected and planned development of cities is, or should be, all about matching resources with needs, eyes set firmly on both these concerns.

Retroactive regularization or unplanned, hasty and sub-standard relocation of industries, slums, etc, cannot be a substitute for pro-active planning. It only exacerbates slumming—not only by maintaining or recreating slum-like conditions for the ‘poor’ but also by encouraging lawlessness among the powerful by condoning (rather than correcting) the subversion of planned development.

With willful planning for the past (in the service of the Great Terrain Robbery) becoming not only the accepted but the expected instrument of urban development, our cities have entered the fast lane to total slumming.

  • 1. ‘Mob gheraos MCD official’, Indian Express, 18 November 2000.
  • 2. ‘Sealing of units: Workers wall up against MCD’, Indian Express, 19 November 2000; ‘Polluting units’ workers take to streets in protest’, Hindustan Times, 19 November 2000.
  • 3. ‘Roadblocks to cleaner Delhi: Traders stymie drive against polluting units’, Hindustan Times, 20 November 2000; ‘A day of traffic snarls’, Times of India, 20 November 2000; ‘Traffic held to ransom; Delhi bandh today’, Daily Pioneer, 20 November 2000; ‘Closure of units causing unrest’, The Hindu, 20 November 2000.
  • 4. MLAs promise chaos in House over units’ closure’, Times of India, 20 November 2000. (‘The entire city witnessed so many protests that we have to take up the cause now…,’ said a BJP MLA.)
  • 5. File review plea in SC, DPCC urges govt’, Hindustan Times, 20 November 2000
  • 6. ‘Khurana seeks PM’s intervention to solve problems of units in non-conforming areas’, Hindustan Times, 20 November 2000.
  • 7. ‘Police under pressure to go slow on protesters’, Times of India, 21 November 2000. (‘At scores of places, the police’s presence and action at trouble spots seemed more routine than special… Officially, the police say they aren't using force because the violence could spread. But Delhi Police’s own record in handling such crises in the past is a potent example of how things are different… Police chief Ajai Raj Sharma said at a press conference that four Rapid Action Force companies had been summoned. In the Seelampur riots last month, geographically a much smaller area, over eight companies of additional forces had been pressed into service… The entire Vikas Marg, for instance, remained closed to traffic for much of the day, even as a handful of policemen looked on…at another trouble spot near Swaran Cinema in east Delhi, the police displayed “remarkable restraint” despite an additional sessions judge being attacked by a mob…’.)
  • 8. ‘Mobs, protesting against relocation, ravage Delhi’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Who blamed who as Delhi burned’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Lawless Delhi’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Industrial workers’ stir: All schools closed for two days’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Agitating mob hold Delhi to ransom; govt refuses to budge’, Indian Express, 21 November 2000; ‘Mobs hold Delhi to ransom over SC order’, Times of India, 21 November 2000; ‘Workers’ fury’, Daily Pioneer, 21 November 2000; ‘Delhi protestors go on the rampage’, The Hindu, 21 November 2000.
  • 9. Violent mob ravages MTNL office’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Vehicles set ablaze, Rs 5 lakh cash, cheques looted’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Karkardooma court judge’s car attacked’, Hindustan Times, 21 November 2000; ‘Rioting workers take over north, west and east’, Indian Express, 21 November 2000; ‘Injured protestors, cops lie side by side’, Indian Express, 21 November 2000; ‘Students caught in middle’, Indian Express, 21 November 2000; ‘Stranded buses leave school children in a lurch’, Times of India, 21 November 2000; ‘Why office-goers got late’, Times of India, 21 November 2000; ‘Delhi comes to a halt’, Daily Pioneer, 21 November 2000; ‘Schools shut down as buses go off the road’, Daily Pioneer, 21 November 2000.
  • 10. ‘Intelligence inputs hint at more violence’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000; ‘Disturbed area residents will bear cost of addl. force, warns police chief’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000; ‘Day Three of Capital punishment’, Times of India, 22 November 2000
  • 11. City page headlines on 22 November 2000 said it all. ‘BJP flays Dikshit, Cong targets MCD’, Indian Express; ‘Chief secretary must be sacked: M.L. Khurana’, Indian Express; ‘Mayor is to blame: Cong councillors’, Hindustan Times; ‘Word “polluting” missing from Industries closure notification, Environment Secy blamed’, Hindustran Times; ‘‘Misinterpretation” of order on units: Khurana, Sahib blame it on Sheila’, Hindustan Times; ‘“Operation shut down” disrupts MCD House meet’, Times of India; ‘Assembly adjourned amid unruly scenes’, Hindustan Times; ‘Assembly adjourned amid trading of charges, slogan shouting’, Times of India; ‘House adjourned, MLAs march to PM’s residence in protest’, Daily Pioneer; ‘Sheila Dixit leads march’, The Hindu; ‘Cong factionalism evident in MLAs’ meeting with PM’, Hindustan Times; ‘Sheila: PM assures of relief measures’ , Daily Pioneer. There was a feeling in many quarters that the previous day’s events had been exaggerated. Police Commissioner Sharma was ‘quick to volunteer a detailed list of over 35 spots, where violence had taken place and that more was likely’. He even went to the extent of saying a train engine had been burnt in Shalimar Bagh. Later, when the media went to the spot, only an engine driver had been beaten-up. He also said a liquor shop in Farsh Bazar was robbed by the mobs, a detail which normally would have been hidden. (‘Police under pressure’, Note 7 above.)
  • 12. ‘Law and order slightly better; Capital, however, witnesses traffic snarls’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000; ‘Commuters on NH-8 have harrowing time’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000; ‘Stir impact’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000; ‘Intelligence inputs’ (Note 10 above); ‘Disturbed area residents’ (note 10 above), ‘Traffic chaos spills over to Faridabad’, Times of India, 22 November 2000; ‘Some relief for Delhiites on the 2nd day’, Daily Pioneer, 22 November 2000.
  • 13. ‘Day Three of Capital punishment’ (Note 10 above); ‘Monday violence: Kavir Nagar mourns firing-victim Irfan’, Hindustan Times, 23 November 2000.
  • 14. ‘Injured protestors, cops lie side by side’ (Note 9 above); ‘Neighbours see “martyr” in accident victim’, Times of India, 22 November 2000.
  • 15. ‘Panicky Delhi govt rushes to SC over riots, gets thumbs down’, Indian Express, 22 November 2000; ‘SC will not yield to stir on polluting units’, The Hindu, 22 November 2000; ‘SC raps Delhi govt for being held to ransom’, Times of India, 22 November 2000; ‘Don’t go slow on crackdown on polluting units, Delhi govt told’, Hindustan Times, 22 November 2000.
  • 16. ‘City govt list of hazardous units incomplete’, Times of India, 2 May 1995.
  • 17. ‘CM promises action plan on relocation’, Times of India, 1 April 1995.
  • 18. ‘Nearly half the polluting units may raise objections’, Times of India, 27 November 1995.
  • 19. ‘Midnight knock for eco-unfriendly business in Capital’, Times of India, 30 November 1996.
  • 20. ‘Industrial units contest pollution board’s criteria’, Times of India, 17 September 1997; ‘Polluting units say no retrenchment’, Times of India, 2 December 1996.
  • 21. ‘Polluting units: SC lands greedy ones in trouble’, Times of India, 5 December 1996.
  • 22. ‘Workers yet to receive compensation’, Times of India (Delhi Times), 24 June 1997.
  • 23. ‘Delhi Industries Minister Harsharan Singh Balli’, Times of India Q&A, 27 May 1997.
  • 24. Dasgupta, Nandini, ‘Tall blunders’, Down to Earth, 30 September 1998.
  • 25. ‘Labour pains’, Down to Earth, 28 February 1999.
  • 26. ‘Master Plan anarchy’, Down to Earth, 31 December 2000.
  • 27. ‘Delhi govt to petition SC on relocation of industrial units’, Times of India, 15 September 1999.
  • 28. ‘Govt has 6 days for relocation’, Times of India, 25 October 1996.
  • 29. ‘Congress, BJP pass the buck over relocation of industries’, Times of India, 23 October 1999.
  • 30. Dasgupta, ‘Tall Blunders’ (Note 24 above).
  • 31. ‘Workers yet to receive compensation’ (Note 22 above).
  • 32. ‘CM promises action plan on relocation’ (Note 17 above).
  • 33. ‘Delhi Finance Corporation will fund relocation of industries’, Times of India, 1 October 1997.
  • 34. ‘25000 industries face closure’, Times of India, 9 December 1999.
  • 35. ‘Govt rethinks on shifting industries’, Times of India, 5 June 1999.
  • 36. ‘Delhi govt yet to get land to relocate industries’, Times of India (Delhi Times), 7 December 1999.
  • 37. ‘Govt rethinks on shifting industries’ (Note 35 above).
  • 38. ‘Delhi govt to petition SC on relocation of industrial units’, Times of India, 15 September 1999.
  • 39. ‘Delhi govt yet to get land’ (Note 36 above); ‘25,000 industries face closure’ (Note 34 above).
  • 40. ‘25000 industries face closure’ (Note 34 above).
  • 41. ‘Reviving the dying Yamuna’, Times of India (Delhi Times), 24 May 1999.
  • 42. ‘The Delhi stretch of Yamuna is “all sewage”’, Times of India, 25 January 2000.
  • 43. ‘Master Plan Anarchy’ (Note 26 above).
  • 44. ‘Rs 2000-cr plan to clean the Yamuna’, Times of India (Delhi Times), 22 February 1999.
  • 45. ‘Reviving the dying Yamuna’ (Note 41 above).
  • 46. CAG report, as quoted in ‘Delhi water unfit for drinking’, Times of India, 10 April 1999; ‘Delhi's sewage system polluting Yamuna: Ministry’, Indian Express, 7 September 2000.
  • 47. ‘Municipal mess’, Editorial, Hindustan Times, 28 January 2000; ‘City sewage dumped untreated’, Times of India, 2 February 2000; ‘Delhi's sewage system polluting Yamuna’ (Note 46 above).
  • 48. ‘Rattled govt to foot bill for polluting units’, Daily Pioneer, 14 September 2000.
  • 49. ‘What will industrial units do with solid waste?’, Times of India, 27 January 2000.
  • 50. ‘800 units face closure for polluting Yamuna’, Times of India, 25 January 2000; ‘Govt tells units to install treatment plants’, Times of India, 8 December 1999.
  • 51. ‘ ‘No norms laid down for Effluent Treatment Plants’, Times of India, 25 January 2000. .
  • 52. ‘Govt reopening of industrial units will add to pollution of Yamuna’, Hindustan Times, 11 January 2000.
  • 53. ‘Relocation issue: Panel set up to study industries’ pleas’, Hindustan Times, 1 January 2000.
  • 54. ‘Closure of industrial units: Delhi govt on the backfoot?’, Times of India, 7 January 2000.
  • 55. ‘Govt allows 372 units to reopen’, Hindustan Times, 10 January 2000.
  • 56. ‘SC bans effluents’ flow into Yamuna’, Hindustan Times, 25 January 2000; ‘800 units face closure’ (Note 50 above).
  • 57. ‘Clean up Yamuna by April 28: SC’, Hindustan Times, 11 March 2000.
  • 58. ‘Yamuna can breathe: Polluting units to be closed’, Hindustan Times, 14 March 2000.
  • 59. ‘SC may fine erring Delhi govt’, Hindustan Times, 29 April 2000; ‘SC talks of fining govt for failure to curb pollution’, Times of India, 29 April 2000.
  • 60. ‘Yamuna pollution: “Excuses! Excuses!” SC slaps Rs 10,000 fine on Delhi govt’, Hindustan Times, 12 May 2000; ‘SC fines Delhi govt over Yamuna’, Times of India, 12 May 2000; ‘Fine slapped on Delhi govt’, The Hindu, 12 May 2000.
  • 61. ‘Stiff penalty if Yamuna is left dirty: SC’, Times of India, 12 July 2000; ‘SC warns Delhi govt on cleaning of the Yamuna’, Indian Express, 12 July 2000; ‘Pollution of Yamuna worries SC’, The Hindu, 12 July 2000; ‘SC: Clean up Yamuna quicker or face music’, Hindustan Times, 12 July 2000; ‘You are cleaning Yamuna at snail's pace, SC to govt’, Indian Express, 12 July 2000.
  • 62. ‘LG, environment dept near showdown over units’ closure’, Indian Express, 9 September 2000.
  • 63. ‘Jagmohan’s is only sane voice, says SC’, Indian Express, 14 September 2000; ‘SC ruling on hazardous units: Ministry to set up nodal agency’, Hindustan Times, 14 September 2000.
  • 64. ‘Pollution is not a simple matter that can be legislated out of existence’, Times of India, 11 March 1997.
  • 65. ‘Govt rethinks on shifting industries’ (Note 37 above).
  • 66. ‘Frequent court orders on polluting industries jolt govt into action’, Times of India, 29 January 2000; ‘Water polluting industrial units allotted plots’, Indian Express, 10 July 2000; ‘500 polluting units get alternate sites’, Times of India, 10 July 2000; ‘500 polluting industrial units to be relocated at Narela’, Hindustan Times, 11 July 2000.
  • 67. ‘Bawana: Site for relocation yet to show signs of any development’, Hindustan Times, 24 September 2000.
  • 68. ‘Shut industries in residential areas: Supreme Court’, Asian Age (Delhi Age), 13 September 2000; ‘SC damns Delhi on polluting units’, Times of India, 13 September 2000; ‘Jagmohan’s is only sane voice’ (Note 63 above).
  • 69. ‘Balli threatens agitation if master plan is not altered’, Hindustan Times, 22 September 2000; ‘Cong flays Jagmohan’s rigidity on Master Plan’, Times of India, 23 September 2000; ‘Amend Master Plan, demands state Cong chief’, Indian Express, 23 September 2000; ‘DPCC wants changes in Master Plan to circumvent SC directive’, Hindustan Times, 23 September 2000.
  • 70. ‘Khurana backs govt stand, for master plan amendment’, Hindustan Times, 24 September 2000; ‘Sheila for a “practical and humane view” of units issue’, Hindustan Times, 24 September 2000.
  • 71. Jag Parvesh Chandra, ‘Where will they go from here?’, Hindustan Times, 6 October 2000; ‘Apply flexible guidelines to Master Plan: L-G’, Hindustan Times, 30 September 2000.
  • 72. ‘Agitating mob hold Delhi to ransom; govt refuses to budge’, Indian Express, 21 November 2000.
  • 73. ‘Closing units an act of bureaucratic terror’, Times of India, 20 November 2000; ‘Revoke industry closure: Khurana tells government’, Indian Express, 20 November 2000; ‘Khurana seeks PM’s intervention to solve problems of units in non-conforming areas’, Hindustan Times, 20 November 2000.
  • 74. ‘Cong accuses BJP of indulging in doublespeak’, Times of India, 18 December 2000.
  • 75. ‘Traffic held to ransom; Delhi bandh today’, Daily Pioneer, 20 November 2000.
  • 76. ‘Agitating mob hold Delhi to ransom’ (Note 72 above).
  • 77. ‘PM house chalo, decides Congress’, Times of India, 21 November 2000.
  • 78. ‘Jagmohan firm on Delhi Master Plan; Tumult in Rajya Sabha’, Hindustan Times, 23 November 2000; ‘Jagmohan bends a little, but won’t break’, Times of India, 23 November 2000; ‘Delhi protesters find support in Parliament’, Times of India, 23 November 2000; ‘Jagmohan yields inch, refuses mile’, Daily Pioneer, 23 November 2000.
  • 79. ‘Jagmohan yields inch’ (Note 78 above).
  • 80. ‘Delhi Assembly passes censure motion against Jagmohan’, Hindustan Times, 23 November 2000; ‘Assembly says no to proposal; fears fresh stir’, Daily Pioneer, 23 November 2000.
  • 81. ‘Interview with Sheila Dikshit, Down To Earth, 31July 2000; ‘Delhi’s belly at the click of a mouse’, Times of India, 12 July 1999.
  • 82. ‘15-lakh workers not hooligans: BJP MPs’, The Hindu, 23 November 2000.
  • 83. ‘Jagmohan bends a little’ (Note 79 above).
  • 84. ‘Jagmohan yields inch’ (Note 79 above).
  • 85. ‘Delhi Assembly passes censure motion’ (Note 80 above); ‘Assembly disapproves Jagmohan stand’, The Hindu, 23 November 2000; ‘Assembly says no to proposal’ (Note 80 above).
  • 86. ‘Cong flays Jagmohan’s rigidity’ (Note 69 above); ‘Sheila for a “practical and humane view”’ (Note 70 above); ‘Khurana backs govt stand for master plan amendment’, Hindustan Times, 24 September 2000; ‘Where will they go from here?’, Hindustan Times, 6 October 2000.
  • 87. ‘Where will they go from here?’ (Note 86 above).
  • 88. ‘Cong flays Jagmohan’s rigidity’ (Note 69 above).
  • 89. ‘Revoke industry closure’ (Note 73 above)
  • 90. ‘Where will they go from here?’ (Note 86 above); ‘1 lakh industries won’t be allowed to shut down’, Hindustan Times, 5 October 2000.
  • 91. ‘DPCC wants changes in Master Plan’ (Note 69 above); ‘.
  • 92. ‘Where will they go from here?’ (Note 87 above); ‘Balli threatens agitation’ (Note 69 above).
  • 93. ‘Revoke industry closure’ (Note 73 above); ‘Khurana seeks PM’s intervention’ (Note 73 above); ‘Khurana backs govt stand’ (Note 86 above).
  • 94. ‘Jagmohan bends a little’ (Note 78 above); ‘Delhi protesters find support in Parliament’ (Note 78 above); ‘Jagmohan firm on Delhi Master Plan’ (Note 78 above).
  • 95. Delhi Development Authority, Master Plan for Delhi, New Delhi, 1962, p. 6, under (a) Major Policy Decisions.
  • 96. Ibid.
  • 97. Ibid., p. 17.
  • 98. Ibid., p. 8.
  • 99. Ibid., p. 22.
  • 100. Ibid., p (ii) under important recommendations made in the Master Plan.
  • 101. Ibid., pp. 17-19.
  • 102. Ibid., p. 21.
  • 103. Ibid., p. 20.
  • 104. Ibid., p. 46.
  • 105. Ibid., ‘Time schedule for non-conforming uses’, p. 46
  • 106. Ibid., p.45.
  • 107. Ibid., p. 19.
  • 108. Mid-term Appraisal of Delhi Master Plan and Its Implementation, First Rreport of the Working Group, 14 March 1974, Summary of Recommendations, Para-4. The Working Group suggested speeding up development of industrial plots by DDA and review of sizes and utilization of industrial plots in cooperative societies as these were far bigger than the ones developed by DDA. It said that since light and service industries (much of the ones proposed to be relocated now under the Jagmohan option) are permitted in extensive industrial zones, layout plans for these zones should make due provision for them. It noted shifting of non-conforming uses had not been successful and strongly recommended a systematic and coordinated approach as well as construction of flatted factories (not one of which had been constructed by then) by the DDA or the DSIDC. It even recommended that a committee to examine in detail the change of landuse of some non-conforming industrial units (now proposed in the Sheila option for all units without the benefit of a detailed examination).
  • 109. Seventh Lok Sabha, Estimates Committee (1984-85), Eighty-fifth Report: Ministry of Works and Housing, Delhi Development Authority–Part-I, Lok Sabha Secretariat, May 1984, Para-7.
  • 110. Seventh Lok Sabha, Estimates Committee (1984-85), Eighty-seventh Report: Ministry of Works and Housing, Delhi Development Authority–Part-II, Lok Sabha Secretariat, August 1984, Para-1.12.
  • 111. Delhi Development Authority, Master Plan for Delhi Perspective-2001 New Delhi, 1990, p. 9.
  • 112. Ibid., pp. 13,56.
  • 113. Ibid., pp. 110-12
  • 114. Ibid., p.112.
  • 115. National Capital Region is the larger inter-state religion around Delhi whose development had benn recommended in the 1962 Master Plan to help keep the population of Delhi within the carrying capacity. See Master Plan for Delhi Perspective 2001 (Note 111 above), p. 10.
  • 116. Master Plan for Delhi Perspective 2001 (Note 111above), pp. 13, 56.
  • 117. Ibid., p. 9
  • 118. Ibid., pp.10-11
  • 119. ‘My report’s scope is limited: DVB chief’, Hindustan Times, 25 November 2000.
  • 120. The three industrial clusters mentioned are Anand Parbat, Shahadra an Shamapur Badli. See Master Plan for Delhi Perspective 2001 (Note 111), p. 12.
  • 121. ‘Minister agrees to declare some more areas industrial’, Hindustan Times, 23 December 2000.
  • 122. Master Plan for Delhi Perspective-2001 (Note 111 above), p.12
  • 123. There are many more such units in Delhi, as is obvious not only from the inconsistent figures that were being thrown around by the press while the court was hearing the matter, but also because, even after the closure of hazardous industries, hazards have continued. In November 1997 a girl was killed in blast in a chemical unit. In October 1998 five persons were injured when paint thinner caught fire in a factory. In November 1999 two children died after they fell into a drum containing chemical waste from a factory. In April 2000 two persons were killed in a blast in a rubber solution unit. In July 2000 five persons, including a four-year old, were injured in a chemical factory fire.
  • 124. Master Plan for Delhi Perspective 2001 (Note 111 above), pp. 12, 55.
  • 125. In 1962 the Master Plan earmarked 196 acres in then central and 168 acres in then outlying areas (to be developed, respectively, with a floor area ratio of 150 and 120) for flatted factories. These would have provided 1,981,901 square metres of industrial space. In 1990 again, similar proposals were made for flatted factories and service centres, albeit with somewhat lower FAR.
  • 126. ‘DDA says no to DCM plan on mill land’, Indian Express, 31 July 1991.
  • 127. ‘Officers bristle at diktat on DCM’, Times of India, 23 September 1994.
  • 128. ‘Who created the mess that is Delhi today?’, Times of India, 25 November 2000.
  • 129. ‘HUDCO’s land allotment for five-star hotel violates Master Plan’, Times of India, 3 October 1997.
  • 130. ‘HUDCO project found violating Delhi Master Plan’, Times of India, 28 February 1998.
  • 131. ‘After units’ closure, DDA, industry owners read SC order differently’, Times of India, 1 February 1999.
  • 132. ‘SC tells toxic units to surrender land’, Daily Pioneer, 4 May 2000.
  • 133. 'Polluting units: SC lands greedy ones in trouble’, Times of India, 5 December 1996
  • 134. Dasgupta, ‘Tall Blunders’ op cit
  • 135. ‘DDA, industry owners read SC order differently’ (Note 120 above).
  • 136. ‘SC tells toxic units to surrender land’ (Note 121 above); ‘Court gives polluting units time till May 28’, Asian Age, 4 May 2000; ‘SC asks hazardous units to give up land’, Hindustan Times, 5 May 2000; ‘Banished units told to cede surplus land’, Times of India, 5 May 2000.
  • 137. ‘Warrants against 9 polluting units’, The Hindu, 4 August 2000.
  • 138. ‘Court issues fresh warrants against 9 units’, Indian Express, 6 August 2000.
  • 139. Master Plan for Delhi Perspective-2001 (Note 111 above), p. 10.
  • 140. Ibid., pp. 55, 56.