On Delhi's southern fringe, near apex of its ridge-river triangle, a thousand families amidst disused quarries they have worked for decades face choice between eviction and illegal Bawana in northern fringe, where those lately banished from riverbed are dying – to make way for unplanned ridge park usurping planned residential land and being used to sell-well unplanned malls. Based on efforts of four years against willful dispossession for willful schemes, citizens in 20 ridge area 'slums' with 5000 families have demanded the statutory solution due to them – now as proof of commitment to NCMP. Their case.
The case against unplanned development in general
Unplanned development in Delhi is prohibited by Delhi Development Act, 1957, an Act of Parliament ‘to provide for the development of Delhi according to plan’, which created Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for this purpose and which defines planned development in terms of Delhi Master Plan (DMP) and its Zonal Development Plans (ZDP). Prepared and approved in accordance with s.7, 8 and 10 (inclusive of Public Notice) and modifiable only by s.11A (inclusive of Public Notice), DMP / ZDP are statutory documents. Development or use of land / buildings at variance from them is prohibited by s.12(4) and s.14, with penal clauses in s.29-31. Disposal of land by or use of funds of DDA for any purpose other than planned development is prohibited by s.21(3) and s.23(2). That government cannot profit from DMP violations has been reiterated by Supreme Court while quashing in 2002 a proposal to allow commercial misuse of industrial plots against payment and in saying, while directing in 2004 closure of units in non-industrial areas, about contentions about recoveries by government, “illegality would not become a legality on inaction or connivance of government authorities”. Powers in respect of land in Delhi vest only for planned development, aim of which DMP explicates as “balanced and integrated development to take care of present and future”. Like a budget, DMP balances city resources and claims on them of all uses and users as well as conflicts and compatibility for optimum integration, with special attention to safeguarding interests of the poor and natural and built heritage for posterity and with priority to integrating existing communities in pursuance of s.21(2). DMP explicates premise of policy of socialization of land through compulsory acquisition as that it “makes planning and the implementation of the plan easier” and stipulates that “all this land will remain under public ownership and … be leased out …on an equitable basis”. In elaboration of s.7 provisions for staging, DMP provisions for plan monitoring guarantee equitable plan implementation and DMP stipulation that mandatory monitoring data, besides planning data mandatory under s.7, shall form basis for plan review, guarantees accountability on implementation.
Unplanned development by government jeopardizes planned development and subverts DD Act and purpose of compulsory acquisition. It amounts to misuse of powers for pursuits contrary to public interest purpose for which these powers vest. It amounts to encroachment by government on public land in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It involves violation of fundamental rights recognized collectively by Articles 14, 19 and 21 that DMP seeks to enforce through mandatory development provisions for equitable physical, social and economic benefit of all citizens in the present and future. Unplanned development in ridge and riverbed violates also ground water notification under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and, thereby, present and future citizens’ right to water.
The case against the unplanned scheme in lal khet area
Lal Khet is located amidst disused quarries, institutional plots (about which in Delhi a scam blew in 2002) and sites for Malls and Biodiversity Park. The Malls were announced on 16.11.03 in full-page advertisements prominently mentioning the Park and auctioned at never-before 1100 crores on 15.12.03. The Park is being developed by DDA and a centre in Delhi University with participation of children from private schools (currently facing flak for violating allotment conditions requiring them to teach the poor) and RWAs with whom Delhi Government has bhagidari (reportedly cheered by prospect of property price boom). Foundation stone for it was laid on 21.02.04 by 4 MPs, including 3 ministers, and former LG, ex-officio DDA chairman. The Malls and Biodiversity Park are unplanned.
DMP places water-constrained southern fringe beyond urbanisable limits since 1962. Lal Khet (‘red field’) is the clay-rich area it earmarked for mining in which workers’ settlements came up. In the ‘80s Vasant Kunj for 100000 people started in violation of DMP beyond this area. Revised DMP approved in 1990 earmarked 315 Ha engulfed between Vasant Kunj and erstwhile urbanisable limit for Vasant Kunj Phase-2 –174 Ha Recreational, 112 Ha Residential, 25 Ha Public/Semi-Public and 4 Ha Commercial. Accordingly, DMP Land Use plan indicates the site in Light-Green (District Park), Yellow (Residential), Blue (Institutions) and small Red (Commercial). 19 Ha Malls and 260 Ha Biodiversity Park (Regional Park in DMP terms) are not contemplated and usurp 112 Ha of DMP residential land.
DUAC proposed an up-market scheme, increasing commercial and circulation to 50 Ha and reducing other uses to 141 Ha Recreational, 105 Ha Residential (including 84 Ha foreign missions) and 19 Ha Institutional. Draft F-Zone ZDP restored green and general housing by removing foreign missions. A scheme for International Hotels Complex (IHC), later quashed by Supreme Court, led to a mainly commercial and institutional proposal that F-Zone ZDP provisionally approved in 1998 – 140 Ha Recreational, 35 Ha Residential, 50 Ha Institutional, 65 Ha Commercial, 25 Ha Circulation. ZDP indicates for the site these broad percentages. Even before ZDP provisional approval to IHC scheme (steered by Commissioner (Planning) implicated in DDA scam exposed by CBI in 2003), public expenditure had been incurred on design competition, trips abroad, adversarial defence in PIL, etc, and allotment to institutions as per DMP – being modified – had also been made (including to School of Planning and Architecture, where a scam was caught in 2003). Extraneous factors apart, broad land use percentages indicated in F-Zone ZDP do not provide legal basis for development on the site.
While DMP-1962 defined 8 planning divisions with 136 zones requiring ZDP, revised DMP re-designated the 8 Divisions, with 7 more in outlying areas, as Zones requiring ZDP. In view of this simplification, to ensure ZDP content and process is not diluted in terms of the Act, DMP Development Code differentiates between use zones (shown in statutory DMP / ZDP land use maps) and use premises (designated in internally approved scheme layouts) and lists permissible use premises / activities in a schedule and sets out how use zones are to be detailed out into use premises so ZDP acts as “link between the Layout Plan and the Master Plan”. Since F-Zone ZDP indicates for the site only percentages, use premises on it cannot be lawfully designated without Layout Plan and Layout Plan with 19 Ha Malls and 260 Ha Park and development already in place is not legally possible in terms of either DMP or ZDP. Regional Park violates DMP and ZDP, both of which contemplate smaller District Park. Malls are not a use in DMP schedule, ie, they must be part of, and subject to regulations for, DMP commercial sites – District / Community / Local Shopping / Convenience Shopping Centre or designated non-hierarchy centre – for none of which the site for Malls is earmarked in DMP or ZDP. In absence of Layout Plan, use for Malls of the site, marked in DMP as institutional (allocation for which ZDP increases from 25 to 50 Ha) involves further DMP violation since the Code requires any such change to be incorporated in the Layout Plan.
A lawful Layout Plan for the site, after abandoning of IHC scheme, would in all likelihood have reverted ZDP proposal to something close to DMP proposal in view of failure to implement in Vasant Kunj mandatory provisions in line with s.21(2) for integration of old communities into new development, especially in view of subsequent notification of 24.05.99 by Central Ground Water Authority banning fresh boring, without violating which (and, thereby, Delhi Development Act in terms of proviso to s.6 requiring development under it to not violate any other law) the proposed development cannot occur.
The Malls, Regional Park, etc, are illegal because they make no sense and the sophisticated logic of planning law precludes nonsense. Malls will work only at cost of DDA commercial areas in the vicinity, many yet to be developed or sold, which sort of thing will drive DDA to bankruptcy (through current stage of selling the family silver to pay the butler) since commercial and other remunerative development pays for development according to plan. Aravalli Biodiversity Park belongs not in disused quarries but in DMP Regional Park land in, for instance, Asola-Bhatti sanctuary in south-central ridge (where Delhi Government has, instead, gifted land to an NGO to build a campus to build environmental awareness), or Mehrauli ridge (the part of ridge abutting DMP urbanisable limits needing urgent protection from unplanned development being given, instead, fillip by, besides plans for A/C mandi, etc, District Park type development in violation of DMP called Garden of Five Senses, lately honoured by Builders, unfortunately through President of India), or Sultangarhi ridge (unique for its apex location on ridge river triangle and surviving 14th century water structures, where an illegal scheme for 21st century heritage centre called heritage park and scam-ridden mega-housing by reputed construction firms continues to be proposed in disregard of High Court judgment of September 2002 that had ordered it stopped and inquired into).
Most of the foregoing is part of a PIL in Delhi High Court (since December 2003) against misuse of land acquired for planned development for unplanned schemes failing to implement DMP entitlements of and causing problems for residents in old settlements.
The case against unplanned resettlement
Slum resettlement in Delhi is not only devoid of basis in but also, by far, the most sinister subversion of planned development. Housing for the poor is central to DMP aim of “balanced and integrated development” and to purpose of large scale compulsory land acquisition that DMP considered “imperative if slum clearance, redevelopment, subsidized housing and provision of community facilities according to accepted standards have to be undertaken”. DMP envisages housing for the poor in terms not just of basic need but “of considerable importance to Development both in economic and welfare terms” as it provides “access to sanitation, health, education and other welfare services and income-earning opportunities” and, with “strong spatial relationship to employment, social services”, etc, is potential “vehicle for social change” and “efficiency and equity of urban areas”. DMP describes “essential components” of housing (space, infrastructure, location, tenure and socio-economic compatibility) and stipulates explicit standards (25 sqm minimum plot and 300 units/Ha maximum net density) and, for affordable integrated housing, “community module” of 1 lakh people with “25% as site and services development and about 45% housing up to 2 rooms dwellings to provide shelter for low income families”. DMP apportions housing target for 1981-2001 (16.5 lakh units) as: 3% (49000) resettlement, 25% (4 lakh) EWS plots, 43% built housing (including for LIG), 4% employees housing and 25% on individual plots. 4 lakh EWS plots (on about 3000 Ha dispersed all over the city) have not been developed and till 30.11.03 only about 36000 resettlement plots (of about 55000 developed on 378 Ha in remote locations) had been handed over. Census 2001 found 4 lakh families in slums. Obviously, Delhi’s slum problem owes entirely to failure to implement explicit mandatory DMP targets for housing for the poor, a failure that strips all development on public land of bonafide. The notion of slum resettlement is conceptually flawed since those denied settlement cannot be resettled as well as malafide because resettlement on offer seeks to substitute DMP right to decent housing with grossly sub-standard favour.
In violation of DMP priorities, resettlement substitutes top-most priority that housing for poor merits (being implementation backlog on what is key purpose of planned development) with if-and-only-if some other (invariably unplanned, at least in terms of priority) development requires ‘encroachment’ removal and then only-to-extent that (unplanned) resettlement is ‘available’. In violation of DMP purpose of housing for all as per explicit targets for future, resettlement uses arbitrary cut-off dates and eligibility criteria based on extraneous things like ration cards to down-scale demand to stingy ‘availability’ by declaring ‘excess’ ineligible. In violation of DMP essential of secure housing tenure and loans and stipulation that all land “be leased out …on an equitable basis”, resettlement is offered to the poor on temporary license basis while others, including those misusing EWS housing stock and sites, are given illegal freehold options (including by modifying other law, such as Cooperative Act in 2003). In violation of DMP minimum standard of 25 sqm, resettlement offers puny plots of 12.5 and 18 sqm doomed to create precisely those slum-like conditions that DMP seeks to eliminate, cautions against and makes illegal. In violation of DMP essential of location in places close to work and schools and provisions for integration, resettlement segregates the poor in large enclaves on city fringes, where access to livelihood is curtailed and DMP entitlements such as free seats in quality schools cannot be availed. In violation of DMP standards and land policy purpose, resettlement uses inferior standards for infrastructure provision for the poor to create precisely the duality that ‘balanced and integrated’ development seeks to eliminate.
This resettlement is wholly illegal in terms of DMP because it makes no sense. It was quashed by Delhi High Court in November 2002 for being defunct and having no basis in law, with the court leaving it to government to come out with legal policy for housing the poor. Instead of responding to imperative of law with policy to implement the statutory DMP solution, government chose to respond to contrived civil society consensus and moved Supreme Court in SLP and secured in March 2003 provisional (subject to outcome of SLP) permission to resume resettlement. Under garb of this ‘stay’ it continues to evict slums from wherever it wishes to pursue unplanned development, increasingly in ridge and riverbed, while endlessly appointing committees to appear busy finding solutions for the poor – a pursuit in which it remains undeterred even by Planning Commission report of June 2002 and High Court order of November 2003 connecting Delhi’s slum problem to failure to implement its statutory solution, unshaken by citizens’ representations for lawful relocation, unmoved even by children dying in the Bawana blunder become murderous.
Of all unplanned development, resettlement represents grossest misuse of public land – to create slums to which citizens are forcibly driven so as to spare for profiteering public land meant for their decent housing – and involves grossest violation of fundamental rights not only of citizens driven to resettlement, but equally directly of citizens already there or in other slum-like housing to which those declared ‘ineligible’ are driven who have to share their less with more and, through unplanned development on land meant for the poor and on land protected against development (as in ridge and riverbed) vacated by eviction, of all present and future citizens. These spatial distortions spawn social distortions by contriving conflicts where there need be none, wasteful investments in options incapable of solutions and atrophy in institutions being habituated to endless pursuit of futile ‘alternatives’ to their own solutions, stripped of confidence in themselves and the system that they make up.
It can hardly be coincidence that funds and awards for resettlement flow from the same sources from which flow funds for propaganda against planning law, advocacy of ‘housing rights’ in terms of right to not be evicted from slums or just to night shelter, etc. It can hardly be coincidence that identical mechanisms claiming, without having to prove, representation help the poor in getting themselves declared ‘eligible’ for unplanned resettlement and developers of unplanned malls through tree plantation in unplanned biodiversity parks. It can hardly be coincidence that these very mechanisms are also the ones occupying institutional space in the city and ‘community participation’ space in policy making for the city’s poor as well as for schemes on land meant for or vacated by them.
Having obfuscated the ‘problem’ with a ‘solution’ to make it worse, slum resettlement has become plump red herring at the centre of so-called discourse that endlessly demands for citizens in slums short-changing on DMP rights for favour of something only a bit better – plot sizes of more than 12.5 sqm (to ‘settle’ for 18, short of minimum of 25), cut-off date extended from 1990 to 1993 to 1998 (even as statutory targets up to 2001 are explicit and DMP is continuing plan), relocation distance reduced from about 20-30 km to 10-15 km or 3-4 km (though distance from sites occupied in desperation has no meaning and DMP integration provisions are explicit). The tragedy, contrary to popular perception, is not that these beggarly demands are not met. The tragedy is that they are rejected not on grounds of incompetence or lack of integrity of the mediators who beg on behalf of poor citizens but on grounds of acceptance of the ‘consensus’ that citizens are beggars with no rights.
The slum resettlement paradigm has no feet to stand on and floats only on hot air of this so-called discourse about slums that, by its insistence on delinking the problem from its statutory solution, has amply demonstrated its incompetence if not outright complicity in wrenching ‘social housing’ out from holistic statutory development perspective in which it is deeply embedded because of centrality of housing in development and consigning it to the realm of optional welfare promises never kept, in a trend clearly headed to making urban solutions impossible, conflicts and unrest inevitable and debt-traps inescapable.
Most of the foregoing is part of slum citizens’ cases in Delhi High Court, invited submissions before Standing Parliamentary Committee, responses to s.11A Public Notices, etc.
The pursuit of planned development (and indifference thereto)
Old quarry workers’ settlements of Lal Khet and Rangpuri Pahari were not integrated into planned development of Vasant Kunj in early ‘80s. When quarrying was banned residents found jobs in development in the vicinity, but were not integrated in it. ‘Urgency’ to do something about Lal Khet arose with Biodiversity Park (at function of 21.02.04 for which ‘encroachment removal’ was touted as ancillary benefit), just as ‘urgency’ to demolish without notice on 05.07.00 part of 50-year old Rangpuri Pahari arose with illegal Sultangarhi scheme in DMP Green Belt (with saving it from their sudden spillover ‘encroachment’ later touted in court as justification for mega-housing, etc, on it). Notice – which law requires individually served with statement of reason and reasonable opportunity to object and which by ‘policy’ is by way of oddities called ‘offer-cum-demand letters for allotment of alternative plot’ in unspecified location distributed to ‘eligible’ families – was ‘served’ in Lal Khet on 31.05.04. (The ‘offer’ failed to mention that allotment was subject to outcome of an SLP or that Court had lately held illegality does not become legality in connivance with government). DDA staff informed some that the offer was for Bawana on the northern fringe. The same day newspapers reported CM’s Bawana visit and assessment of crematorium unavailability being the main problem, which obviously meant things had gone glaringly wrong in Bawana.
Between heavy-weight foundation-stone laying for Biodiversity Park on 21.02.04 and distribution on 31.05.04 in Lal Khet of ‘offer-cum-demand letters’, government had changed and had adopted a National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) acknowledging the decisive mandate of the People in favour of parties committed to weaker sections’ welfare of the common man’s wellbeing and making promises inclusive of stopping forcible evictions as well as solemn pledge to provide a government that is corruption-free, transparent and accountable at all times and an administration that is responsible and responsive at all times. In Delhi, where the politics of rival political parties leading governments at the centre (in ‘control’ of land, police, DDA and other urban authorities) and state has made it convenient to place the blame for all willfulness (especially relating to DMP) at the door of ‘multiplicity of authorities’, the change of guard that put Congress in charge of all three tiers of government, along with NCMP with commitments convergent with statutory DMP provisions, provided a window of opportunity for reversing the abandonment of DMP in recent years. On 02.06.04 residents of Lal Khet wrote to DDA and MoUD a letter to say that the offer made was unacceptable as it was illegal and to request a legal offer consistent with NCMP and DMP and a meeting about this, assuring cooperation in lawful relocation. They wrote again on 13.06.04 with reference to activities of touts and on 21.06.04 with reference to concurrent political statements in support of NCMP and against distant relocation, etc, and to object to rude remarks of DDA staff against leaders promising them support.
It is a fact duly admitted in High Court and noted in order of November 2003 in a matter filed by residents of (erstwhile) Arjun Camp in Vasant Kunj that mandatory EWS plots have not been developed in the area. Arjun Camp, through court matters filed in 2002, and identically situated (in DMP District Park in Vasant Kunj) Rajiv Gandhi Camp, through representations, had staked claim to proximous site for 952 EWS units and were demolished without notice by May 2003 after CBI exposed in the DDA scam case of Sahara Restaurant-Bar running on it. After change of government, in continuation of letters CMO had provided in 2003 in support of request to DDA for hearing about interim arrangement pending disposal of court cases, residents requested intervention again and CMO provided again on 27.05.04 a letter requesting OSD to DDA VC to respond within a week and on 16.06.04 identical polite reminder. On 22.06.04 residents of settlements in Nangal, pursuant to pasting of summary demolition notice by AAI, also wrote to DDA, with copy to MoUD and MoCA, to say this was contrary to NCMP and to request a meeting in continuation of requests for relocation anywhere near villages in the area, made since 1972 (ie, before acquisition for Vasant Kunj, when Nangal land was acquired for Airport). With reference to a tender for construction of two-room flats in Vasant Kunj, the convener of citizens’ groups in slums synergizing on the platform of Master Plan Implementation Support Group (MPISG) had also written to DDA VC on 27.06.04 to ask about details of loans and registration in view of affidavit signed by DDA VC in Arjun Camp cases mentioning proposed low-income housing in that location, etc.
Amidst all this President, with Urban Development Minister (who had announced top priority for DMP after taking charge) honoured with Builders’ awards for architecture DMP violating Delhi Secretariat on stretch of riverbed from where part of Pushta had been cleared, DMP violating Garden of Five Senses where Aravali Biodiversity Park could have been, and an architectural project by a senior Planner in positions at which professional ethic does not permit private practice or accepting Builders’ awards. On 11.06.04 letters were written to Council of Architecture for investigation, to MoUD Secretary (to whom President’s Secretariat had forwarded for appropriate action a letter of January 2004 about subversion of planned development by such and other ‘endowments’) for, among other things, inquiry into Sultangarhi scheme that Court had directed in 2002, and to President whose Secretariat forwarded the same on 18.06.04 to Secretary MoUD for appropriate action.
End-June MoUD appointed a 7-officials committee to make in two weeks a ‘slum-free Master Plan’ for Delhi (with ideas unrelated to DMP and consistent with ‘DMP2021 guidelines’ about which Supreme Court has said that under their garb action against illegalities has come to a standstill) and DDA VC, in a press interview, spoke of ‘camp’ approach in resettlement, etc. Already ‘camp’ in Pushta had been reported, with 350 out of 950 (of perhaps 15000 families evicted without resettlement) that attended found ‘eligible’ on second thought – for Bawana. In Lal Khet, too, all ‘help’ had reduced to getting more declared ‘eligible’ for Bawana. On 27.06.04 Lal Khet requested ‘camp’ for discussion. Nangal, where there were apprehensions on account of implications of privatization proposals for Delhi Airport, did likewise. Arjun Camp and Rajiv Gandhi Camp wrote to stake priority claim for ‘camp’ on grounds of having been denied hearing despite Court order of August 2002 for clarification of entitlements, despite having filed over hundred objections in response to Public Notice for Sultangarhi scheme to hearing of which on 27.01.03 they were not invited, despite having made submissions for hearing to Standing Parliamentary Committee, etc. Request for schedule of ‘camps’, etc, was also made on behalf of groups in resettlement areas. On 28.06.04 MPISG convener for slum groups wrote to request common ‘camp’ for the area, etc.
On 28.06.04 evening DDA and Police arrived in Lal Khet to inform residents of plan to demolish on 02.07.04. On 29.06.04 residents wrote to say that without formal notice, pasted even in Pushta, and the meeting sought for a month demolition would amount to forcible eviction in breach of NCMP promise and even threats to those offering full cooperation for lawful option were contrary to NCMP pledge. With reference to DDA VC being on ‘slum-free Master Plan’ making committee and his statement about ‘camps’, they asked for meeting. For four days they approached several people, but got no assurance of hearing. Several dismantled their homes in hopeless panic reminiscent of Pushta’s ‘voluntary evictions’ earlier this year. Early morning on 02.07.04 a complaint was lodged in Police Station about boring and construction without mandatory construction-site boards in various places in the area, with reference to related court matters. SHO was requested to investigate if these were legal and, in case of any evictions around them, to ensure officials take personal responsibility for legality of purpose and consistency with NCMP. Police staff confirmed plans to demolish Lal Khet settlements. In continuation of a letter thanking PM for explicit references to planned development and equity, including as basis for investment commitments, in his address to the nation on 24.06.04, a call was made to PMO to report imminent breach of NCMP promise. Someone was kind enough to provide a fax number to make an urgent representation. The Police Station declined to tell exactly why, but demolition in Lal Khet was postponed by it for ‘administrative reasons’.
On 04.07.04, exactly four years after demolition without notice for illegal Sultangarhi scheme of a part of Rangpuri Pahari, groups from 20 slum in the area made a joint demand for EWS scheme according to DMP either in residential land in Lal Khet being usurped by unplanned Park or in compensatory land in Sultangarhi scheme in DMP Green Belt and for stopping not only evictions but also other development for being unplanned in terms of DMP priorities. In view of non-compliance of court orders of 2002 for inquiry of Sultangarhi scheme and for clarification of DMP entitlements, they asked also that no expenditure be made on any proposal of 7-officers’ committee till Standing Parliamentary Committee had heard their submissions amounting to suggestion for enforcement of DMP solution to the slum problem.
This joint demand was sent, with pictures of the Pushta-like ‘voluntary eviction’ and request for hearing, to Standing Parliamentary Committee (through Secretariat), Urban Development Minister, Prime Minister (in continuation of fax), LG (with reference to order for Sultangarhi scheme), chairperson NAC (with reference to hearing she gave MPISG as opposition leader on 28.05.03) and former PM and left leaders (with reference to NCMP-minding positions). On 05.07.04 members of MoUD committee were asked, through letter to DDA VC, to ensure consistency of their ‘slum-free Master Plan’ with DMP, etc, and no demolitions meanwhile. The latter was also asked of Police Commissioner. To Secretary MoUD s.41(3) applications were made for examining legality and propriety of DDA decisions to participate in ‘slum free Master Plan’ and in Pushta clearance and to demolish Lal Khet. To LG a request was made for hearing. A note on DMP provisions for housing, ridge and riverbed and their subversion, including summary of citizens’ efforts since adoption of NCMP, was enclosed. The note was also sent to CVC with reference to plans to monitor encroachment on government land, with request / offer to monitor government encroachment on public land, with copies to NHRC (in continuation of letters about government’s plea in Rangpuri Pahari case that there is no practice to give notice to encroachers), CEC (in continuation of letters about EC clearances for slum clearance endorsing unplanned schemes), Planning Commission (to ask for sections of its report of 2002 referring to DMP to be brought to the attention of all), Standing Parliamentary Committee (to request hearing) and CBI (for information of DDA scam).
On 06.07.04 a newspaper reported 17 people, including 12 children, relocated from Pushta had died in Bawana. And DDA staff came to Lal Khet to paste lists of those ‘eligible’ for Bawana. On 07.07.04 a letter, with pictures of children in Lal Khet, was sent to DDA VC, with copy to MoUD and LG, to ask for evidence of adequacy of development in Bawana in terms of DMP standards and to question anomalies implicit in the charade of ordering free seats in schools in Vasant Kunj while sending these children to Bawana, in involving other children in biodiversity tree plantation after uprooting these children, in allotting social work institutions plots on basis of essentiality certificates where these children have more essential rights, in auctioning public land for 1100 crores to malls requiring those entitled to cross-subsidy benefits to be banished to die. Request was reiterated for discussion for lawful relocation.
On 08.07.04 rental housing in Masudpur Harijan Basti, abutting District Park from which Arjun Camp was evicted in 2003 was demolished without notice – in breach of NCMP promise. Construction (supposedly for a club) underway without mandatory board and with boring on adjoining District Park was not touched. Those evicted included a few evicted from Arjun Camp, in whose cases an affidavit signed by DDA VC had ‘justified’ failure to provide mandatory EWS housing on the plea that the poor could live in villages like Masudpur, etc. It was learned that a flat resident had claimed honorarium of Rs.5000 out of bhagidari funds for work on three ‘projects’ including clearance of Arjun Camp and the club was also at instance of same RWA, in receipt of Rs.25000 in bhagidari. A letter, with pictures of the illegal boring and ZDP excerpt showing its location, was sent to DDA VC to request again urgent discussion, with copy to Secretary MoUD, Police Commissioner, CGWA, CBI, CVC.
After flexing muscle in Masudpur, on 09.07.04 DDA arrived in Lal Khet to hold ‘camp’, purportedly on request. Citizens’ request was for legal option. DDA made it clear ‘camp’ was only for receiving drafts and issuing receipts for plots in Bawana. While confused ‘eligible’ took receipts, none availed the four free tempos to take them to Bawana. On 11.07.04 (Sunday) DDA staff returned to explain that those who had taken receipts would be forcibly sent in free tempos to Bawana and the rest forcibly evicted and the settlements demolished.
While DDA was ‘persuading’ (term used by VC for Pushta in his press interview) residents of Lal Khet to go to Bawana, boring for Malls began and was reported with photograph in letters 12.07.04 to Secretary MoUD, Police Commissioner, CGWA and CVC.
On 13.07.04 news papers reported environmental NGOs had petitioned Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee to declare Lal Khet area ridge and on 14.07.04 DDA plans for Sultangarhi scheme were reported yet again. Also on 14.07.04 DDA returned for more ‘camp’ in Lal Khet, which residents declined, making it clear that they wanted discussion and would not permit DDA to pretend ‘participation’.
On 15.07.04 it was reported the MoUD’s committee had sought extension of its two-week time to prepare ‘slum free Master Plan’. Meanwhile, union budget had made no specific provisions for housing for the urban poor and NAC, in its first meeting on 17.07.04 also did not identify housing as one of 10 priority areas for formulating policy papers to advise government about NCMP. Delhi budget was also purely inertial and regardless of NCMP.
On 20.07.03 a letter was written to CEC (with copy to parties in related High Court matters and to Police Commissioner and CVC) about the NGO petition to it to declare Lal Khet area protected forest on account of Malls and army housing to point out that the area was already protected against such like, subject of matters before High Court, by DMP and CGWA notification and calls for more protection (of an area lawfully quarried for half a century and designated after due consideration and by due process District Park and not ridge park) did not answer the issue of non-implementation of existing protections and, at present, served only to make a case for eviction of old communities for unplanned Park for benefit unplanned institutions and Malls that were on the site only because the same NGOs had chosen in previous PIL to ignore holistic solutions provided by planning law. Excerpts from the matter before High Court (inclusive of details of unplanned schemes and illegalities involved in them, Sultangarhi judgment of 2002 and an annexure enumerating citizens sustained efforts) as well as NCMP-DMP note of 05.07.04 and citizens’ demand of 04.07.04 were enclosed.
On 21.07.04 a request was made of DDA Chairman for compliance of High Court judgment of 2002 that said, “This writ petition which is in the nature of a public interest litigation raises a question of far reaching consequences and has wide ramifications. …It is a matter of great concern that a statutory authority which is statutorily to protect and preserve the statutory scheme itself has been violating the provisions of law. … In fact it is a fit case where the Chairman of (DDA) should see to it that how authorities of (DDA) herein were allowed to take such decisions which admittedly are wholly illegal and without jurisdiction. …once such illegalities are permitted the same in our opinion would give further incentive to a statutory authority like (DDA) to perpetuate the same and to indulge in other illegalities.” Striking similarities between Sultangarhi scheme and Malls / Park scheme were pointed out to request that development / eviction to be stopped pending inquiry. CEC letter was enclosed.
On 23.07.04 three boring drills and earthwork machines were spotted on the Malls site and reported in a letter to MoUD, Police, CGWA, CVC, CEC and DDA Chairman, with photographs (along with photographs of identical DMP violating schemes in M-Zone / Rohini Extension posing threat to more-conforming industrial estate and picture of O-Zone / riverbed scheme – ‘adopted’ by the present government from brochure of former Tourism Minister – posing threat to more conforming old cultivators’ communities and illegality of all these and of plans to illegally license commercial misuse of residential premises).
On 26.07.04 DDA arrived in Lal Khet in the afternoon and announced plan-to-demolish on 29.07.04. A letter listing processes that the demolition would frustrate and seeking deference of demolition, sealing of boring for Malls and discussion was written to DDA, Police, LG. On 27.07.04 citizens declared start of indefinite protest reiterating their demand of 04.07.04 – now as proof of commitment to NCMP that experience of 2 months comprehensively belies.
On 27.07.04 area DCP came to inspect Lal Khet while a builder came to inspect a cooperative society plot between Lal Khet and DCP office.
And on 27.07.04 citizens of Lal Khet took the baton (12m long banner to be precise) to lodge protest against willful dispossession for willful schemes driving the city to catastrophe. The demand under discussion is to be spared war-like operation and be given time to vacate the site in peaceful dignified manner befitting the capital of the world’s largest democracy.