DDA budget 2005-06 is in complete resonance with GNCTD’s Annual Plan 2005-06. (Lest it be thought that UPAtakeover at the centre has led to GNCTD and DDA bonding in bonhomie, both annual budgets are inertial extrapolations of the ones approved last year, with NDA at the helm of central affairs). In both, expenditure proposals do not add up to anything even remotely like planned development and in case ofDDA this wilfulness is also clearly unlawful.

DDA’s annual budget, passed on 29/03/2005, anticipates total expenditure of 2404.61 cr against total receipts of 2405.39 cr. DDA budgets are not available on its website and the following is based on news reports.

Two things are striking about the total expenditure figure of 2405 cr. One, it does not tally with the figure of 2487 cr arrived at by totalling sector-wise outlays – 700 cr for land acquisition, 833 cr for land development, 466 cr for construction of houses and shops, 240 cr for metro co-finance, 177 cr for horticulture, 59 cr for roads, 12 cr for computerisation. (The discrepancy must be greater since all sector outlays are not mentioned in the news reports). Two, it is much higher than last year’s actual expenditure of 1299 cr, which was against higher actual receipts of 2992 cr that included 2100 cr from land disposal. A “conservative estimate” of 1536 cr from land disposal is proposed this year, though DDA VC has curiously said that DDA will make efforts to exceed this target.

Clearly, DDA’s thrust is on revenue raising rather than on expenditure planning. More significantly, expenditure outlays bear no relation to mandatory Master Plan targets and provisions – even as DDA was created by Delhi Development Act, 1957, for sole purpose of development according to Plan and for this purpose alone endowed with powers for socialisation of land through compulsory acquisition and seed-capital of 5 cr for a revolving fund. s.23 of the Act stipulates that all receipts, borrowings, recoveries, profits, etc, accruing to DDA are to be credited to this fund that “shall be applied towards meeting the expenses incurred by the Authority in the administration of this Act and for no other purpose”. The sole object of the Act being development according to Plan, DDA is thus barred from raising revenues or incurring expenditure for anything other than Plan implementation. Further, with draft DMP-2021 proposing radical departures from policies set out in the Plan of 1962 and refined and expanded in DMP-2001 having lately been put to Public Notice, this budget was expected to concentrate on implementation of those provisions of DMP-2001 that are reiterated in DMP-2021 rather than on proposals about which public objections and suggestions have been invited. In terms of imperatives of s.23 and the currency of DMP-2021 public notice, etc, the DDA budget for 2004-05 is wilful and unlawful.

The largest outlay is for land acquisition (700 cr, up from 405 cr last year) and land development (833 cr, up from 730 cr). DDA VC has reportedly elaborated on this in terms massive land development programmes at Rohini, Jasola, Dwarka and Narela. These “programmes” do not have the benefit of statutory zonal planning by due process – notably, of public scrutiny and comment

The second largest outlay is for “houses and shops” (466 cr, up from 426 cr last year). Housing and commerce are distinct land use categories and under policy of socialization of land remunerative uses are meant to cross-subsidize non-remunerative ones. Compulsions of the revolving fund have always tended to skew DDA development in favour of remunerative uses, notably commercial, but the growing pre-occupation with up-market ends within uses (eg, malls rather than mixed markets, flats for HIG, NRI, etc, rather than composite housing, etc) is really outright profiteering on public land. In this perspective the vague budget head of “houses and shops” is most unlikely to be a Plan implementation task.

The third largest outlay – 240 cr for metro co-finance – is an incredible violation of s.23. DMRC has been violating the Master Plan with impunity, especially in its so-called property-development and also in its other activities. DDA is duty bound to levy penalties and misuse charges on DMRC. Instead of featuring on the receipts side in the DDA budget, however, DMRC is starring on the expenditure side with as much as 10% of DDA’s annual outlay. (DDA has also reportedly approved and will be forwarding to MoUD for approval DMRC’s proposal – involving additional allocation of 275 cr – for extending the metro line from sector-9 to sector-22 in Dwarka).

Then there is 117 cr for Horticulture (up from 166 cr last year). The proposals under this innocuous head are all connected to other proposals / development in contravention of the Plan. 260 Ha are to be greened on the western bank of the Yamuna – while on the East bank a range of “prestigious” projects in violation of the Plan are coming up and even as the Plan (and subsequent law) requires a comprehensive Zonal plan for the riverbed area. Likewise, the proposal for so-called Archaeological Parks in the ridge area in name of Qutb and Sultangarhi also abut illegal projects by GNCTD, DDA and DMRC and skirt the statutory requirement of J-Zone Plan to be prepared first. Similarly, the Master Plan Greens proposed to be developed around Maa Anandmayee Ashram and Ladha Sarai will serve to condone (private) illegal development that has already occurred.

An outlay of 59 cr has been earmarked for Master Plan roads. Also mentioned are flyover projects, notably 2 out of the 19 identified by GNCTD that DDA will be taking up – ITO chungi underpass and Akshardham Setu, both of which adjoin “prestigious” projects on the Eastern bank of the Yamuna.

And 12 cr have been earmarked for comprehensive computerisation on path to e-governance. Finance Member has elaborated that an agreement has been signed with the Software Technology Park of India “the entire department would be computerised in the next 15 months to streamline transactions and make them fast”. Perhaps the software will also ensure that transactions are separately and collectively in conformity with development planning law and sense.

News reports also contain the ubiquitous references to The Games (and, coincidentally, the cabinet approved IOA’s proposal for bidding for Asiad 2014) as well as to sundry “prestigious” projects (IT park, integrated freight complex and convention centre in Dwarka, the Bhalswa lake complex, (re)development of INA Market, multi-level parking facilities, “therapy park” near Safdarjang Hospital, etc). In coincident developments, Supreme Court passed further orders for clearing the ridge of mining / miners and a top-level meeting failed to ensure raw water supply for Sonia Vihar. And by way of comments from members of the Authority, it is reported, “members raised concerns about rising prices of DDA flats and demanded that the percentage increase every year should be nominal. They also sought lowering of the interest rate paid as penalty by DDA. While this rate was earlier 18 per cent and has been lowered to 15 per cent, the members demanded that it be lowered further to reduce the burden on the Authority”.

Techno-legal infirmities in most DDA budget proposals – which will require, separately or in DMP-2021 but in any case as fait-accompli, post-facto land use change – can easily be set out and, indeed, are already set out for many of them in court matters awaiting replies, public notice responses awaiting disposal and memoranda awaiting hearing by Parliamentary Standing Committee. The issue is no longer about particular illegalities but about the broad sweep of wilfulness and presumption of post-facto approvals.

Even if such proposals were to be technically justifiable, which they are arguably not, such illegalities and such contempt of statutory safeguards against illegalities by custodians of development law are undoubtedly contrary to public interest. Public expenditure of 5100 cr by GNCTD and 2400 cr by DDA has been approved for them this week.