'Heard' citizens' report of the 'Hearing'
29th January 2003
Reference in Sultangarhi Case chronicle
MASTER PLAN IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORT GROUP
A synergy platform of citizens’ groups with legitimate stakes in benefits of planned development
1356, D-I, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – 110070; Ph: 26132921, 26895840; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
29th January, 2003
Gram Sewa Samiti, Mahipalpur
Yuva Jagriti Manch, Mahipalpur
Gram Sabha, Rangpuri
HS Kalyan Samiti, Rangpuri
Convenor: Shiv Narayan
Samudayik Vikas Samiti, MK
Rangpuri Pahari Nala
Dalit Mazdur Vikas Sabha
Shankar Camp Vikas Samiti
Convenor: Samay Singh
MPISG Unit, Sector-A
MPISG Unit, Sector-B
MPISG Unit, Sector-C
MPISG Unit, Sector-D
Convenor: Prabha Chand
Service Providers’ Groups:
VK Rehri Patri Vyapari Ekta Manch
Convenor: Badri Prasad
Gita Dewan Verma
Engineer Member, DDA
(Chairman, Public Hearing Meeting of 27.01.03)
Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi – 110023
Sub: Invitees’ accounts and views re Public Hearing Meeting of 27.01.03
In our continuing efforts in support of planned development through due process, this is to place on record / provide inputs for the Board’s report notes of all who attended the above Meeting, except invitee #1 Jagjiwan CHBS. Detailed accounts of individual hearings are enclosed [12 pages]. In addition, we wish our collective reaffirmation of certain aspects covered by these accounts to also be placed on record.
Apropos the Hearing itself, we all wish to place on record the following:
1. In view of (a) absence of information about court-directed enquiry of how illegal work started and MPISG-requested enquiry of how it continued in contempt of court, and (b) DDA Chairman’s remarks reported on 09.01.03, assurance about seriousness of purpose/outcome of the Public Hearing Meeting is in order.
2. We especially wish to ensure that the Board is seized of the abnormal circumstances leading to this Public Notice process, notably the following:
(a) work started (via demolition) in July 2000, and enquiry by NHRC was sought
(b) soil-testing started in June 2001, and first formal objections were made
(c) scheme was displayed at function on 25.09.01, whereupon groups objected
(d) work started in March, MPISG sought Public Meeting and groups objected
(e) in June 2002, MoUD was requested to consider objections already filed
(f) PIL precipitated Public Notice on 15.09.02, 1 day before the final hearing
(g) MPISG convenors forwarded objections already made by constituent groups
(h) 1700 families objected individually (since the Notice asked name/address)
In effect, ‘objections’ – squarely within the ambit of Master Plan entitlements – have been filed since July 2000 (especially since June/September 2001 and formally in March-April 2002) and hearing has also been sought (in March/April from DDA and June from MoUD). We are constrained to say we fail to understand why we were ‘summoned’ through a Public Hearing Meeting Notice only to individually present before a large number of people in an intimidating setting what we have already submitted repeatedly in writing, without any response. All of us got the impression that issues we have raised for long, and in our formal objections now, as primary stakeholders with statutory entitlements in benefits of planned development had not received serious consideration by those ‘hearing’ us, at least those amongst them who spoke. We think the ‘due process’ by which this Hearing was conducted needs explication since rules normally applicable to such hearings can hardly apply to it in view of the abnormal circumstances, not even remotely contemplated by the Act.
3. In view of the abnormal circumstances we, on our part, made efforts/suggestions to make the Hearing process transparent and productive, as we consider it crucial for democratic public participation in bonafide planned development (see our Planner’s letter of 24.10.02 to DDA Commissioner Planning). As part of this effort, we wrote to various public authorities to request their response to the Notice. This was in view of DDA/MoUD’s references in the court to various authorities and our own letters to them. Since none of the authorities seemed to have done so, nor did any of them intervene to stop the work continuing in contempt of court, vide our Planner’s letter of 17.11.02 to DDA Chairman it was requested that Public Hearing be held with all these authorities present. We think clarification is in order as to why our suggestion for a transparent Public Hearing inclusive of all concerned public authorities was rejected.
4. MPISG made efforts to publicise the Public Notice. Indeed, all invitees except the CHBS at #1 (which we thought was an unauthorised colony) and the NGO at #3 (which did not appear and whose objection is similar to that of the Federation), came to know of it through MPISG. More than 1700 individual objections were filed and, in view of the large numbers, vide our letter of 18.10.02, we offered “help with any clarification, etc.” As per the list of invitees about a dozen of those who had objected individually were invited. To the extent we have checked so far, apart from Sushil Verma, none received your letters. DDA invited four MPISG convenors on 17.01.03, even as in an affidavit of 16.01.03 it has “denied for want of knowledge” details of MPISG and also in its reply in the PIL that precipitated this Notice it claimed ignorance of MPISG. Not only is DDA’s blow-hot-blow-cold stand vis-à-vis MPISG odd, we think (a) all citizens’ groups whose prior objections MPISG convenors forwarded/reiterated should have been invited, and (b) individuals should have been invited in some proportionate manner. We think that clarity on the basis on which invitees were selected to ensure adequate / proportionate representation of all citizens’ groups / concerns is in order.
5. We regret the unfortunate altercation at the beginning and appreciate the role of some officers in resolving it. We wish to clarify that we were under the impression that Public Hearing Meeting did not mean individual interviews and were fully committed to cooperating on any procedure to make the Meeting productive. Our Planner had sought clarification about the structure of the meeting vide her fax of 23.01.03, the reply to which did not clarify that we would be heard individually. We came to the conference room together because we had been asked. Our initial reaction was to the dis-organisation and arose from concern about the outcome of the Meeting. We are constrained to place on record our strong exception to the arrogant behaviour of two public servants. One, barely in his 30s, spoke with raised finger to Prabha ji and did not have the courtesy to apologise when told he was speaking with a freedom fighter. He then ‘threatened’ our convenor from Rangpuri that he would have the Hearing stopped if we ‘behave’ like this and when our Planner asked with what authority and on what grounds, he told her, with raised finger, that he wasn’t speaking with her. The other told our Planner, after she sat in the waiting area after being taken there later and asked to be seated, to stand up as this was the VC’s waiting area. She told, admittedly intemperately but entirely accurately, a number of people present that public servants had no business treating space in public buildings of public authorities as private property to humiliate invited public in this manner, and that too on account of their own mis-management. We are not raising these issues for ‘redress’, but only to point out that it is not without reason that we think public servants seem, increaingly, to be loosing sight of their role vis-à-vis people. We hope that the more than a dozen gentlemen who heard us one by one are not under the impression that they did us any sort of favour.
Apropos remarks made to us in the course of individual hearings, we all wish to place on record the following, within the ambit of objections filed:
6. Our Planner was told that the J-zone Plan has been approved ‘in concept’ by DUAC and is being considered by the Authority. She was told simultaneously that a decision has been taken to view the 56 ha in totality of the Master Plan being revised. Our convenor for Service Providers was told the J-zone Plan will be prepared only after all ‘pending work’ was done. We find in these remarks a degree of obfuscation. That DDA’s scheme, besides being illegal, is unplanned for not being embedded in a Plan as contemplated by the Act and non-priority for not originating in mandatory monitoring is central to all our contentions / objections. We wish to emphatically state that we shall brook no obfuscation on this count and DDA must state unambiguously on what legally tenable basis its scheme can be considered (a) planned and (b) priority use of public land acquired for express purpose of development according to Plan.
7. Attention of our Planner was drawn to p.4 of the Master Plan where it is stated, “Land required…may be acquired…with due regard to balanced development”. We wish to clarify we are not objecting to land acquisition by DDA. We wish also to point out that in the part-final-hearing in WP 4978/2002 on 11.09.02 counsel for petitioner set aside most of DDA’s reply on grounds of it relating to proof of acquisition, which had not been challenged. As citizens committed to planned development we are not concerned about who owns the land, only about if land use is as per Plan. Accordingly, our Planner pointed out at the Meeting that the operative words in the statement to which her attention was drawn are ‘required’ and ‘balanced development’. We reiterate what is central to all our objections, viz, what is ‘required’ is to be determined on basis of mandatory monitoring provisions of the Plan and what constitutes ‘balanced development’ is also defined by it. Within the ambit of the Plan HIG housing is unjustifiable in the area for being in excess of norms and, so, carrying capacity. DDA seems to prefer to read in the Plan its powers rather than responsibilities for which it has these powers. This seems the case not only from the remark at the Meeting but also from its reply in court wherein balanced development is interpreted at will and much is made of DDA’s ownership of 56 ha to suggest that whatever DDA does on acquired land is planned. We wish to emphatically state that we shall brook no obfuscation on this count and DDA must justify its scheme as ‘planned’ on basis of Plan provisions, not proof of land acquisition, with specificity especially in response to our Planner’s questions about its relation to Plan goals.
8. On environmental implications of DDA’s scheme, our Planner has reiterated that (a) existing land use is not rural but ‘Green Belt’ and the scheme jeopardises Green Belt goals relating to environment and regional dispersal, (b) DDA’s claim that its scheme will not draw ground water need to be substantiated with technical data and proof of DJB and CGWA concurrence, and (c) assessment of environmental problems / historic water structures of, especially, Mahipalpur is pre-required before further development in the area. We wish to emphatically state that we shall brook no ambiguity on these counts.
9. On the matter of infringement of land and other entitlements some assurances were provided. On these assurances respective groups will communicate with DDA directly. We wish only to remind DDA that it is duty-bound to implement our statutory entitlements in any case. Its enthusiasm for its unplanned illegal scheme and indifference to our sustained ‘requests’ for planned development makes it look like a child off to play while homework is yet to be done, and piling up to leave no play-time. This view is central to our objections. We wish to emphatically state that an unplanned scheme cannot, in any way, become a pre-condition to implementation of our statutory entitlements and, in fact, we hold exactly the opposite view, which we believe is also what DDA’s mandate calls for.
We request an acknowledgement of this letter, which may be sent to MPISG Planner. Thanking you, with regards
Veena Saxena, for Federation of RWAs-VK (with H Kumar r/o 2163, B2 Vasant Kunj)
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner
Shiv Narayan, MPISG Convenor [V] (with Gita D Verma, Planner consultant, GSS-Mahipalpur)
Samay Singh, MPISG Convenor [R]
Prabha Chand, MPISG Convenor [F] (with Minoo Varma, r/o 4115, D4 Vasant Kunj)
Badri Prasad, MPISG Convenor [SP] (with Rajinder Singh r/o Rangpuri Pahari)
Hoti Lal, Adhyaksh, RPVEAM
Sushil Verma [1356 DI Vasant Kunj]
To support planned development. To oppose unplanned development. To protect our future.
Enclosure: Notes of individual hearings in Public Hearing Meeting of 27.01.03
(in order of hearings)
These notes were drafted on 27.01.03 / 28.01.03 by those heard, singly or jointly as the case was. In meetings of 28.01.03 and 29.01.03 notes were compared and, where necessary, translated. Common concerns were identified and the covering letter was drafted and finalised for signatures of all.
The notes are based on recall and, where the concerned persons used prepared notes (MPISG Planner and a few who were called in later).
We'd be happy to have errors / omissions pointed out to us.
Reference in Sultangarhi Case chronicle | TOP
Veena Saxena, for Federation of RWAs of Vasant Kunj, accompanied by H Kumar r/o 2163 B2 Vasant
The main contentions of the Federation’s objection are as follows:
(a) the scheme is unplanned as J-zone Plan has not been prepared (and also the issue of its non-preparation is sub-judice in WP 3515/2002 in which DDA has not replied)
(b) the ill-conceived scheme in inviolable green belt threatens heritage – both natural (ridge) and built (Sultangarhi Tomb)
(c) the scheme is unjustifiable in view of depleteing ground water table and inability of DJB to supply river water (DJB Chairperson has communicated in writing to DDA Chairman DJB’s inability to meet water requirement of any additional population in the area)
(d) civic amenities in the area have collapsed on account of continuing construction
We were asked by one of the officers if we had anything to add to the four main points in the objection signed by our Chairman (who was unable to attend personally on account of being hospitalised).
We said that we were here on behalf of the Federation and the objection signed by our Chairman had taken all our views into account and that he had already been taking up related issues with DDA. In general the Federation is very worried about the mindlessly continuing construction activity by DDA and has repeatedly written to it in this regard – through the Federation Chairman on broader issues and implications as well as through the Federation’s Water Committee on implications for the acutely problematic water situation.
We were asked how was DDA mindlessly constructing. We gave the example of its recent project to build flats in a park that had, till then, a board saying green-belt and on which considerable investment had been made on horiculture works. DDA had ‘won’ the court case only because it did not bother to tell the court that the flats were in excess of Master Plan norms and defended it, instead, as an adjustment in layout plan. The residents who had filed the PIL had filed on grounds of green belt, which DDA said was only a layout level green that it can adjust. Unfortunately the petitioners came to know of the Master Plan norms later and while their counsel did tag the case with WP 4978/2002, DDA insisted on 11.09.02 that it be untagged, and ‘won’.
We got the impression that no one present was aware of this matter. They talked amongst themselves and then said they would look into it and asked us if we had anything to say about the 56 hectares.
We said that there was clearly a shortage of water and unplanned flats anywhere in the area seemed to us unjustifiable, as already stated in our objection.
An official started explaining to us how they were planning some projects for rainwater harvesting by residents/RWAs, etc. We said we did not see much worth in such projects, as they are unlikely to deal with a crisis situation like ours. No effective project has been delivered so far in a context like ours and we have no basis to believe DDA’s ideas will work.
H Kumar, an engineer who has worked on large development projects with DLF, etc, pointed out that rain water harvesting, fashionable though it has become, is only a limited solution, nor is it necessary for DDA to bother residents with it as the flats were constructed by DDA and the drainage system is planned and DDA could on its own harvest all the rooftop rainwater through it. It could also collect wastewater for recycling. There is really nothing that could have stopped from already having done whatever can possibly be done for harvesting rainwater or recycling wastewater in its Vasant Kunj scheme. DDA should prepare a comprehensive and detailed scheme that will provide an assessment of what can realistically be expected and if there is possibility for adding more flats in the area. If necessary RWAs can support DDA, but RWA partnership projects cannot substitute a comprehensive scheme, which is DDA’s responsibility as water supply as per standards has not been provided to flat buyers in Vasant Kunj.
We were told H Kumar’s suggestion would be considered.
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner
I began by stating that MPISG, by definition, is on DDA’s side, as Plan implementation is its mandate and our synergy purpose. And that MPISG is committed to making the Notice process productive and has made substantial efforts to publicise the Notice and mobilise/facilitate response and had also offered help in further process (letter of 18.10.02 to DDA VC). I said I wanted some clarifications about the Meeting and was told the Board was not meant to answer questions, only to hear me, only in the context of what was written in my objection. [It took a lot, but I did I think keep my cool at this patronising tone that disregarded the fact that I had objected as a very competent professional]. Thankfully, an officer said I ‘be allowed to make my submissions’. I raised the following questions:
1. Since the enquiry ordered by the Court in its judgement of 16.09.02 in WP 4978/2002 and vigilance enquiry sought by MPISG vide letter of 27.10.02 in view of work continuing seemed not to have been started/completed, wasn’t the Public Hearing Meeting pre-mature? And, in view of DDA Chairman’s remarks reported by Express Newsline on 09.01.03 was it meaningful?
2. Since it is our contention that mandates / activities of other public agencies are affected by the proposed scheme and we have written to them and also (vide my letter of 17.11.02 to DDA Chairman) sought Public Hearing in their presence, is Public Hearing without them in order?
3. Under what ‘due process’ is this Meeting being conducted since rules normally applicable to such meetings do not even remotely contemplate the abnormal circumstances leading to this Meeting?
4. On what basis have invitees been selected out of over 1700 who responded to the Public Notice? [A remark was made consistent with the reply to my fax of 23.01.03. I said that did not cover issues of adequate proportionate representation, especially as MPISG is only a synergy platform].
5. Since, despite our prolific correspondence inclusive of high quality professional reports on four key issues as well as our obvious role in WP 4978/2002, DDA has claimed ignorance of MPISG in its court-affidavits, how did the Board view MPISG / myself in this matter? [The last was partly in reaction to the patronising remark earlier. I pointed out that the insight that I had into the context of the subject of this meeting ought to be of interest to serious planners. I asked if they realised how it felt to have to go to court to have opportunity to be heard on a serious matter by professional colleagues. Someone actually said that route was always open to me…]
I proceeded to my objection, which I said was in two parts – content and process and, having already made references to process, I would complete that first. My objection to process related to (a) the manner in which DDA has been ‘pushing’ an illegal scheme, and (b) the scheme not being embedded in planning process as contemplated in the Act and Plan and pre-emptive of due process of J-zone Plan preparation and Master Plan revision, both on-going. I began to outline the shocking chronology listed in my objection after combining what MoUD submitted in court and what DDA/MoUD kept from it. I was asked, shortly after I started, if this was part of my objection and how long I would take. [I did loose my cool then, though having written on all pages of my prepared notes ‘MPISG Planner’ to remind myself that I was not here as just a personal-planner, I did not get up and leave. I did, however, ‘behave badly’. I said I had asked clarification about structure of the meeting in my fax but had not been told a time limit. This horror story, starting July 2000, may take a while to tell and if the Board was finding it boring or not worth hearing, it may want to tell me how much time it could spare and what it would like to hear in that time. I was told I could take 10 more minutes and talk only about my objections in respect to the proposal for the 56 ha. I said I had been talking from deep inside the 56 ha about most objectionable things, but since all seemed to think 56 ha was an island I’d skip my objection to process except for quoting a part… I asked I be told when, say, 8 minutes were up…I quoted from both summary paragraphs from my objection and later letter of 27.10.02 to DDA Chairman. I asked all to read this part of my objection at leisure. I also asked if any one had already read it and got the impression no one had. I do consider the chronological account seriously objectionable and the summarised version from my notes is included as annex to this note.]
Regarding my objection to content I began by saying it was not possible for any one to comment on content in response to the Public Notice as DDA had not displayed details of the scheme, nor published mandatory monitoring data needed to asses it in relation to Plan goals. MPISG is uniquely positioned to comment because (a) we caught a glimpse of scheme details when it was publicly displayed at a DDA function on 25.09.01 and (b) the professional reports we have sent DDA contain, as basis for our proposals for implementation of Plan entitlements, equivalent of monitoring data. I enumerated and started outlining the three areas of my objections to content as follows:
1. DDA’s scheme is not embedded in Plan as contemplated in law (since J-zone plan is under preparation and the Master Plan delineates this site beyond 2001 urbanisable limits). Nor does its content originate in any process contemplated in law as the Act requires civic survey and the Plan monitoring data as basis for Plan adjustments. The scheme is therefore arbitrary and inconsistent with DDA’s sole mandate of securing development according to Plan under its Act. [I was told at this point that J-Zone Plan had been approved ‘in concept’ by DUAC and, simultaneously, that it had ‘been decided’ to take-up 56 ha in ‘totality of Master Plan revision’. I said all this meant nothing. I was told this was Development Area 76 and my attention was drawn to p.4 of the Plan where it is said that additional land required for development can be acquired. I pointed out that ‘required’ was the operative word, bound by mandatory monitoring provisions and that the same statement also had proviso about ‘balanced development’, also duly defined by statutory provisions. I said that DDA was always inclined to read in the Plan / Act its powers rather than its responsibilities as starkly evident in, besides this remark (the only one made to me, in nearly three years, with reference to the Plan!) its replies in court that completely skirt Plan-based arguments. I picked up my copy of the Plan and said please look at this as a document of citizens’ entitlements in benefits of planned development, which you are duty-bound to safeguard and implement. We as planners are not in the business of wallpaper production and must deliver planned development on ground. I lost heart at this point, but went on…as MPISG Planner]
2. The scheme components – HIG housing and international heritage centre – do not further respective sectoral goals (housing backlog in the area being only on low-income stock and backlog work on conservation being on Mahipalpur and needing land for prior de-densification on account of 40-year delay). They also jeopardise broader Plan goals relating to regional dispersal and carrying capacity (excessive up-market / institutional development is needed to be diverted to NCR). I pointed out the latter was particularly problematic on this site as the scheme would open up southward sprawl, unaffordable for regional dispersal reasons and unsustainable because of the critical ground water situation. I also pointed out that I had sought response from DDA to my contention that existing land use is ‘Green Belt’ not ‘rural’ as claimed by it in its court affidavit and Public Notice. And also from NCRPB, which (according to MoUD’s submission in court) had recommended the scheme on grounds of contiguity, even as this logic made sprawl not only inevitable but desirable, regional dispersal impossible and NCRPB rather redundant. I said I had asked for responses before I objected, but neither of them replied then or later. I asked to be told which Plan goals were furthered by the scheme to permit its consideration, even for purposes of CBA, as bonafide modification in pursuit of DDA’s statutory purpose of development as per Plan.
3. The scheme infringes statutory entitlements guaranteed by the Plan to area residents, amounting to abdication of statutory responsibility for planned development for [mis]use of resources/powers for unplanned activity in departure from / at cost of mandate. This is the core of the objections filed through MPISG by different citizens’ groups / individuals, based on their substantive prior efforts seeking implementation of their entitlements. I outlined these in some detail so as to ‘help’ subsequent speakers, who had not come prepared to be ‘interviewed’. [Later I realised I need not have worried!]. I asked all present to correct me if I was wrong in any line of argument, but no one interrupted me. I began with the four areas bullet-pointed in my objection:
(a) Land entitlements of village residents: Agricultural land of villages was acquired for development according to Plan. The Plan, since 1962, has provisions for conservation of historic villages and integration of village settlements into new development to avoid their deterioration. The 1990 Plan specifically speaks of land in the vicinity for facilities, work places, etc, besides development within villages. These entitlements were not implemented when Vasant Kunj was developed and, despite mandatory monitoring, DDA seems not to have noticed problems created for local villages. Citizens’ groups from Rangpuri and Mahipalpur have been writing about problems and seeking implementation of entitlements on priority. DDA has not replied. Objections from villages stake claim to remaining land in the vicinity (acquired from them for development as per Plan) for outstanding Plan entitlements instead of unplanned schemes. I asked how DDA’s scheme was justifiable against this line of argument and, if it was, where was land for backlog entitlements of villages.
(b) Land entitlements of residents of Rangpuri Pahari settlements: 40-50 year old settlements of Rangpuri Pahari are ‘non-conforming’ (rather than an ‘unauthorised’) use, for which there are Plan provisions since 1962. Development of Vasant Kunj in ‘80s required their integration under these as well as low-income housing provisions of the Plan. Facilities in Vasant Kunj are as per norms of the 1990 Plan, which also requires 25% housing in it to be by way of cheap plots, on which Rangpuri Pahari settlements would have a-priori claim also because the Plan provides for housing for existing squatter families. These provisions have not been implemented here and in view of low-income housing being an explicit land policy objective, represent DDA’s oldest implementation backlog. This has been pointed out since 2000, including through reports, suggestion to the court-appointed committee and inputs for the planning commission report. Yet DDA labeled, in its reply to court, its ‘implementation backlog’ as ‘encroachment’. I asked how use of Rangpuri Pahari land for HIG housing in excess of norms rather than for Rangpuri Pahari settlements was justifiable against this line of argument and, if it was, where was the land for settling these settlements as per Plan.
(c) Land entitlements for Service Providers: The line of argument, overlapping with the previous, is as follows: (Similar applies to hawkers): Low-income housing provisions of the Plan are adequate for solving Delhi’s slum problem. For Vasant Kunj this is empirically demonstrated in a report sent to DDA in June 2001. In August 2002 Arjun Camp B9 Vasant Kunj moved court to seek settlement according to Plan for all rather than resettlement under illegal policy for some. DDA has not yet filed reply. Instead it has threatened demolition 7 times, last on 13.01.03. 130 families had filed objections in response to the Notice. None received invitations of 17.01.03. I asked how the planners felt when, say, the minister said planners have not bothered to provide for service providers. And why had DDA not replied in the Arjun Camp matter. And did it consider it necessary to do so now that all were planning to appeal against the November judgement that had, in a PIL, struck down Delhi’s slum policy.
(d) Water entitlements of all: I said in May 2002 I had sent a report, with MGD estimates, about the water crisis being rooted in subversion of planned development. In its reply in court DDA has denied these ‘facts’ with, however, no figures. On 25.09.02 (10 days after the judgement) it replied to my letter of 08.07.02 that had been converted to the PIL to vaguely say DJB had assured enough water. I wrote to ask for (a) figures in MGD, (b) proof of DJB assurance and (c) acceptance by CGWA of DDA-DJB estimates, ideas, etc. I reiterated my position that without these the water argument can not be argued further as we have reached stalemate, with DDA rejecting my estimates and we rejecting its unsubstantiated claims.
In addition to the above, bullet-pointed in my objection, I asked if I may spell out, in view of further developments, some issues I mentioned only in passing. With permission I outlined the following:
(e) Rangpuri Pahari School. In June 2001 RP Vidyarthi Evam Abhibhavak Manch (RPVEAM) had sent a report seeking implementation of Plan provisions for neighbourhood schools and free seats and norms for school sites. In August I had sent a list of school sites in Vasant Kunj pointing out misuse on practically all and received a reply saying it had been forwarded to the Land Department for necessary action. In April 2002 RPVEAM wrote to object to DDA’s illegal scheme as it threatened the existing MCD school. As work continued after the court order and after an attempt to demolish the private school elsewhere in 56 ha, RPVEAM wrote again on 10.10.02. In November Delhi government announced 5% free seats (instead of 25% as per Plan). I traced this to a court matter in which DDA’s affidavit says monitoring lease conditions is not its job and it takes action if attention is drawn. In December I wrote to say its contention about its job was untenable and its claim about action was belied by our experience.
(f) Extra-statutory priorities and abdication of responsibility re entitlements: examples: DDA had defended its unplanned HIG scheme on grounds of PM’s directive. On 10 December DDA brought out a notice inviting NGOs with annual turnover of 1 cr to build slum tenements as per the Mumbai model being advocated by UDM. A Mumbai NGO had been ‘surveying’ in Vasant Kunj. Illegality of Mumbai model in terms of Plan and Act had been pointed out already, with specific reference to Rangpuri Pahari and Arjun Camp, etc. It was also pointed out that the notice was arguably in contempt of the November order. Likewise, while Mahipalpur has long sought a comprehensive scheme and intervention for its johad, government has been announcing environmentally savvy sounding johad interventions, and lately also bhagidari plans in villages, elsewhere. After work stopped on DDA’s site in November, 600 trucks of earth were removed to Munirka village, where DDA has developed a sports complex-on-johad, lately inaugurated by a minister. A natural water body on Aruna Asaf Ali road has been filled to create parking for unauthorised up-market commerce and DDA SE said in a news report he was not competent to comment. DDA’s PM-directed unplanned scheme is destroying historic landscape in the ridge periphery. On the other hand, DDA has not cared to act on the assurance it gave PMO in October 2001 about implementing Plan provisions for hawkers in Vasant Kunj. I said all DDA’s current work and priorities seem to be guided by some Minister’s Plan rather than Master Plan. In one rare case of the two coinciding (perhaps only because PMO did not distinguish Vasant Kunj’s hawkers’ matter from other NGO requests of the same time) DDA took no action.
I started quoting from my objection about DDA’s drift from mandate. I said its engineers seemed to think of DDA as a construction company. Its land department seemed to think of it as the biggest landlord in town. Its planners seemed to enjoyably pre-occupied with schemes, pilot projects, etc. I wondered who checks activities against purpose of development according to Plan. Everyone was fidgeting and some looking at their watches, and I stopped rambling. [As I left the room, I asked if they realised that more than a dozen men officially seated like this might intimidate some and requested them not to refuse anyone the option of being accompanied. It ocurred to me later they might have interpreted this to mean that I would sit through all hearings as MPISG Planner. That was not my intention, as they would have realised soon, as I accompanied only Shiv Narayan ji on his request, and only because his Samiti Secretary, who normally makes up for his excessively mild-mannered nature, could not come for this Meeting due to a prior engagement].
Dates / events listed / not listed by MoUD in WP 4978/2002
DDA submitted a proposal for land use change to MoUD
DDA again requested MoUD for approval for issue of a Public Notice
DDA caused 50 homes in half-century old RPMK to be demolished on 05.07.00. NHRC opened enquiry on my complaint on 07.07.00. First prayer in detailed petition of 10.07.00 was inquiry. In Nov. MoUD was issued notice. Already, on 18.07.00 UDM had given written permission for reconstruction
MoUD sought clarification from DDA about NCRPB clearance
NHRC had issued notice in November to MoUD and RPMK started writing in December regularly for asking details of DDA scheme and plans re entitlements.
DDA wrote to Chief Planner NCRPB for necessary clearance
By June other RP CGs were also writing to DDA. In June, w/o clearance, soil testing started and DDA officials came to tell of relocation plans. RPMK objected to DDA on Master Plan grounds. On 04.07.01 I sent DDA a report on hoe MP implementation would solve VK’s slum problem. On 05.07.01 a demonstration seeking MP implementation started that lasted two months. On 31.07.01 I sent a detailed not through DDA VC / Advocate for consideration of court appointed coordination committee, on which MoUD was represented. In August CGs demonstrating wrote to UDM, a letter faxed several days. On 21.08.01 residents of RPMK refused to let JCB clear site and wrote to DDA-VC to first confirm the scheme was legal and conforming to the Plan.
DDA VC requested MoUD for processing of land use change
The demonstration was suspended on 05.09.01 after MLA and Councilor wrote to DDA-VC in support. On 17.09.01 CGs wrote DDA-VC for assurance of Plan implementation. On 25.09.01 DDA arranged public function, where its scheme was displayed, following which more CGs objected, seeking details of plans re entlmnts
officers of DDA, L&B Deptt.GNCT, Delhi ASI and NCRPB visited the site for change of land use [None has clarified re site-visit/fn, CGWA later objected]
proposal for change of land use “from Rural use to Urban use” considered by NCRPB in its 47th Planning Committee meeting [No reply to ‘green’ or ‘rural’]
Even as the proposal had just been considered just by NCRPB, L&T set up site offices in March. MPISG wrote thrice to reiterate objections raised by CGs, seek techno-legal basis of scheme in view of J-zone location, etc, and ask for it to be held in abeyance till a public meeting to clarify doubts etc. The last of these letters was copied to all CGs, Councilor, etc and they all wrote. On 14.04.02 a complaint was lodged in the PS against felling of trees.
After “thorough deliberation and in view of the contiguity of the area with the built-up areas and taking note of all the views expressed” NCRPB recommended change of land use.
In early May sent a report on how the water crisis in area related primarily to subversion of planned development. On 21.05.01 another Police complaint was lodged against tree felling. There had also been an accidental death. On 30.05.02 CM told CE in a bhagidari meeting with the Federation to stop building flats as DJB won’t supply water. On 12.06.02 the same CE presided over bhumi pujan. On 14.06.02 the digging of an illegal bore-well was reported to CGWA, Police and DC. On 15.06.02 a news paper reported land use change was being considered by MoUD, a fact confirmed by MoUD officials on phone. On 18, 20, 26, 28.06.02 and 01.07.02 I wrote to MoUD to ask that the illegal scheme be stopped and that DDA be asked or I be allowed to place before MoUD objections already raised. On 03.07.02 CGWA wrote to DDA to advise it to reconsider its scheme, with a copy to me. On 08.07.02 I wrote to MoUD in view of the CGWA letter, enclose relevant letters and copied this to DSF and MPISG. As MoUD did not intervene for a month, DSF moved court. After three hearings DDA filed reply on 09.09.02. MoUD did not reply, nor did it appear for the hearing on 11.09.02, which was adjourned on this count.
proposal for considering change of land use was considered by the Ministry
Ministry communicated to C(P) its approval to issue Public Notice.
On 15.09.02 the Public Notice appeared in Sunday Hindustan Times. At the final hearing on 16.09.02, DDA tried to use the Public Notice to persuade the Court to let it carry on, etc. The Court ordered the scheme stopped and enquired into.
Shiv Narayan, MPISG Convenor – Village Groups and President, Mahipalpur Gram Sewa Samiti
(accompanied by Gita Dewan Verma, Planner Consultant, Mahipalpur Gram Sewa Samiti)
I outlined the problems due to the village growing without any development intervention by DDA. The population has increased to 50,000 and there are no facilities, not even a park or sports ground where 500 people can gather, nor community hall, girls’ school, etc. An officer said a scheme for a park was nearly ready.
I said that, instead of any benefit for 400-year-old Mahipalpur village, DDA’s 15-year-old Vasant Kunj scheme had created problems. Sewer outfall from Vasant Kunj had made conditions hellish. Area SE said that the problem was being taken care of as part of Vasant Kunj Phase II and would be sorted out in another year. [At this point Gita asked why had it not been taken care of in Phase I and he replied that at the time they had got permission. Gita asked under what possible law could they have got such a permission and how come this odd permission had never been mentioned before as, surely, residents of Mahipalpur need to know who gave it and why. Her question was skirted as someone continued the discussion with me].
I said sewer water from elsewhere was also being diverted to our village and also that the land allotted to CISF and under the 20-point programme was all very close to the village. There was no option for village expansion and the village was growing within its limits. The johad area had shrunk from 85 bighas to 27 bighas. People really have no choice but to build where they can and then houses are demolished. People are building on historic water channels. Group-4 and Defence Enclave were also mentioned. An official denied that CISF, etc. were next to the village and said they were far away. He said the johad came under MCD, but a comprehensive scheme for it was being prepared and facilities suggested can be included in it. Another official said Supreme Court orders do not allow construction on johads. Another said facilities can be created on gaon sabha land that has been acquired. Another said more land can also be acquired if needed. Some questions were asked about gaon sabha land, about historic structures, etc. [At this point Gita asked why can’t land already acquired be used for village facilities and what is a ‘comprehensive scheme for johad’. We have been requesting a comprehensive scheme for implementing all Master Plan entitlements of Mahipalpur. How can a comprehensive scheme be prepared without a survey of the ground situation, which you all seem not to have carried out or you would not be asking all this? How can you be sure that some or all of the 56 ha is not, in fact, necessary for Mahipalpur’s needs and not really available for an unplanned scheme? …Instead of answering, an official cut her short by saying he was talking to me].
I was asked what other specific objection we had to the proposal for 56 ha. I said we were worried that, as happened with Vasant Kunj, the drainage would flow into our village. The area SE said that would not happen, as that site is lower. [Gita asked if it was lowere because they had excavated so much and where was the outflow going to be, but he did not answer].
The senior official who had been talking of the scheme invited me to come to his office any time to see the scheme. He said that in Dwarka they had done two village development plans with the communities and would be happy to take our views on this scheme as well. He said I should take his phone number and come with other villagers to discuss the scheme
[After wards, after all the hearings were over, I was called back and given the phone number of Commissioner (Planning). The slip of paper on which it was written also said ‘bhagidari’.]
Samay Singh, MPISG Convenor – Rangpuri Pahari Groups
I was asked what I would like to say about our objection to the proposal for 56 ha. I said all MPISG units have been drawing DDA’s attention to the fact that its development in the area is not as per the Master Plan, which is not right.
I was asked what sort of development would we like on the 56 ha. I said we would like development as per the Master Plan. This is what we have said in all our letters since July 2000. This is what we said in our two month long demonstration outside your Master Plan office. When Vasant Kunj was developed we should have been integrated in to the scheme as per the Master Plan, which DDA did not do. There should have been about 5000 cheap plots in Vasant Kunj as per the Master Plan, which DDA has not developed. You have not given any cheap plot to any one.
I was asked how many houses are there in Rangpuri Pahari, how many are single-storied, how many double-storied and are there more than 150-200. I said most houses are single storied. There are 600-700 families and, as happens in villages, each has 2-3 rooms/houses.
I was asked could they not build anything, considering they had acquired this land a long time ago. I said sure they could build, but this is J-zone and it doesn’t have a zonal plan and when that is made, the Master Plan will require them to first take care of existing settlements like ours.
I was asked if we would have no objection if development for us was completed first. I said if our entitlements under the Master Plan are not affected we should have no objections. But then we have been writing since 2000 for our entitlements to be implemented, which is something that DDA should itself have done as part of its Vasant Kunj scheme or now its Rangpuri Pahari scheme. So far we have not had any response to our ‘request’. I was told they would do something now. I said we would wait. I was told they would do something soon. I said we would wait.
I was told they are doing very good work in Sultangarhi area, in which they are making a big park, which will benefit Vasant Kunj residents and also us. I said this work falls in the 56 ha covered by the public notice. We are seeing from very close, as our settlement is quite close to the monument, what work is being done and wonder if it is for us or if you might not be planning something else ‘for’ us in the guise of this work for a monument in J-zone. They said no, no, you will stay there only and enjoy the park, we will not do anything like you are thinking.
Prabha Chand, MPISG Convenor – Flat residents, accompanied by Minoo Varma
I introduced myself as a retired Professor of Economics, past-President of my RWA and convenor of MPISG.
I said I was here as an aggrieved citizen and did not know if I was allowed to raise here all my concerns relating to the Master Plan or just confine myself to the 56 ha site proposal. Someone asked me to go ahead.
I said DDA’s mindless construction activities with no relation to the Master Plan had become a big problem for area residents. For nearly three years we have been raising our voice about several matters, with no response from DDA.
Water, of course, has become a big problem, though it is in no way the only one. We get water for half an hour every day and not even on all days. Those who have ‘connections’ manage to get DJB tankers sometimes. In desperation residents and RWAs go to beg favour from the MLA who comes around, gets garlanded and has an illegal tube-well dug, which dries up.
At that point one officer said he also had a flat in Vasant Kunj and I said then you know the problems. Another officer said water shortage is the main problem and both Minoo and I immediately said that was just the most obvious problem, all infrastructure is stressed – power, parking, garbage, everything.
We both said that there is no logic to DDA’s doings. In one place it brings every other day bulldozers to demolish a slum whose residents have gone to court against it and it has to reply, in another place its staff is settling people in slums. In one place it says it is going to make a park after removing homes, in the next pocket it is building flats in a park. Its staff harasses hawkers and it allows shopkeepers to set up shops on the roads.
I said DDA has just forgotten all about the rights of all residents under the Master Plan – whether in flats, villages, bastis or service providers. It seems to think all our land is its land to do what it likes. And we are the ones stuck with problems that have resulted.
What is shocking is that it does not respond to us even though we are talking in the context of the Master Plan. Just in the hope that our voice would be heard I even had to participate in the municipal election last year where we went campaigned on the slogan of vote for the Master Plan.
But even that has not persuaded DDA that we are serious. I wonder if it is any use speaking here also. At this point they said no, no, it is not like this.
Minoo was asked if she would like to add something. She said that when she was leaving her house in the morning her son asked her where she was going and she said that she was going to make an attempt to protect his future. She said to the dozen gentlemen hearing us that she would like them to judge what they do in the name of development in similar terms, with their own children in mind.
We were asked if we wanted to say anything else. We said no and thanked them for giving us a patient hearing and came out.
Badri Prasad, MPISG Convenor – Service Providers’ Groups, accompanied by Rajinder Singh
[Rajinder, from Rangpuri Pahari, had not come for the hearing but to deliver a letter from Arjun Camp. Badri asked him to come along as, being from the Hawker’s manch, he was not very conversant with the Arjun Camp case, which Rajinder knows better. Upstairs, Badri lost his nerve and asked Rajinder to speak for him. They wrote up a note while waiting and these notes use that and what they recall]
I introduced both of us. I think I forgot to say that I am from Rangpuri Pahari. I explained there are two groups in MPISG’s Service Providers’ unit – Vasant Kunj Rehri Patri Vyapari Ekta Manch (VKRPVEM) and Arjun Camp.
I said VKRPVEM did not have any objection to DDA’s scheme as such, but to the fact that while DDA had justified its illegally started and fast progressing unplanned HIG scheme on grounds of enthusiasm about a PM directive, it had shown no enthusiasm about another PM direction of the same time that asked it to implement plan provisions for Vasant Kunj’s hawkers, though DDA had told PMO (in October 2001) that it would do so.
About Arjun Camp I explained Vasant Kunj was the only place where the issue of settlement according to Master Plan instead of resettlement in violation of it under an illegal policy has been raised since 2000. Arjun Camp has taken this matter to court in August 2002 and DDA has not replied. Instead every other day its bulldozers arrive and all of us have to do all sorts of things to persuade them to leave Arjun Camp alone.
I said both these points have been raised in the letter of 24.09.02 signed by Badri, which no one from Arjun Camp has signed because at the moment the Service Providers’ Convenor is from VKRPVEM. 130 families from Arjun Camp subsequently responded to the Notice in more detail, but Badri is not one of them because he doesn’t live there. As per your letter, we thought no one from Arjun Camp could come. Also the latest demolition attempt, made on 13.01.03, has rattled everyone.
I also said that off and on ministers talk of there being no provisions for service providers in the Master Plan and we feel very bad because in the matter of hawkers and slums we have been working very hard since 2000/2001 to get Plan provisions implemented.
I suggested to them that at least here if they would do development according to Plan instead of unplanned scheme they would find it quite easy because of all the work we have already done and also because they would get our full support.
And I also suggested that before they have finished their backlog work here they should not even think about the J-zone Plan as there might be need for land or shortage of water or anything.
The officer sitting next to the Chairman said two things in reply. One, he said he would like to tell us that on the PM’s direction a pilot project is going to be carried out in Vasant Kunj sector-A local shopping centre, in which place will be created where pheri-walas can come and park after their rounds. They are planning trees and lighting and something. Two, we were assured that our pending works would be finished before the J-zone Plan is finalised and the Plan will be finalised in consultation with us.
Hoti Lal, Convenor, Rangpuri Pahari Vidhyarthi Evam Abhibhavak Manch
(accompanied by Samay Singh, MPISG Convenor – Rangpuri Pahari)
I was asked if I would like to tell them something. I said please ask what you would like to know.
I was asked what problem we had on account of the work going on in the 56 ha.
I said that the road to the MCD school has been dug up because of the work, which is creating a problem for teachers, who come from elsewhere. In the area between the school and our settlement excavated earth has been piled high and, lately, a wall has also been built by DDA. The children have problems going to school now. When it rains there is slush and children slip and fall all the time.
I said this was the immediate problem, but the real worry is that the scheme may lead to the closure / demolition of the school. DDA’s indifference to the school is obvious not only from the fact that the work on the site practically closed the road to it but also from the fact that no action has been taken on the report we sent in June 2001. In this we had asked, among other things, for the site of the MCD school to be increased as per Master Plan standards so as to accommodate a playground, especially since MCD was going to start building more class rooms. DDA did not even reply in this matter.
I said that, moreover, in October, while objections were still being filed, a bulldozer arrived to demolish Modern Public School, a private school south of our settlement, where also our children study. Thus both schools used by our children are threatened by the scheme for 56 ha. Naturally, we find the scheme objectionable.
I said that the unplanned scheme was all the more objectionable because DDA had not responded to our requests, with detailed information as well as proposals in our report, about implementation of Plan entitlements for education of our children in the form of free seats in schools developed on DDA sites in Vasant Kunj.
I was asked if I knew if the school was private or government. I said it was an MCD primary school, right next to where construction was going on. An officer said it is not an MCD school. I said the Board clearly says it is, and successive teachers, principals and Councilors also seem to think it is.
I was asked if I knew how much the area of the school should be. I said not exactly, but as mentioned in our report and in a letter the children sent DDA with a drawing with some rough measurements they took, the existing area is half of the Master Plan norm for primary schools. I said they could call our consultant Gita ji, who is still outside, for more details.
We were told that they are also developing parking, etc, near Sultangarhi, which would also benefit us and were we aware of their work. I said we know, as we live there only.
We were told that on Mondays and Thurdays they go there and have meetings and would also call us henceforth. We said we would surely come. Samay Singh said that we had been to one or two meetings at DDA’s office before, but had been told some very odd things by senior DDA officials, but hoped we were better understood now.
We were told they would definitely bear in mind our problems and suggestions. We said thank you.
Sushil Verma, individual objection: D-1/1356 Vasant Kunj
I was asked to present my objections.
I said I had already sent my objections in writing and, in fact, I had come to the meeting expecting a reply to my letter rather than to have to read it out to the panel.
I also said that I had taken leave, despite some urgent work in office, to attend this meeting since the Notice for it had said I would not get another opportunity. I had assumed that meant an opportunity to hear the views of the panel on my objection.
At that point a gentleman who did not introduce himself looked at my letter and said I had two main points, one about shortage of water in Vasant Kunj and the other about low-income housing not having been developed as per Master Plan, leading to slums.
I confirmed that these, indeed, were the two points bullet-pointed in my letter objecting to DDA’s scheme for HIG flats for which land use of 56 hectares was proposed to be changed.
The same gentleman then said the two points would be taken care of.
I said something to the effect that I hoped so as they should have been taken care of by DDA when Vasant Kunj started being developed. I would eagerly wait for the implementation of this promise and till then my objection stands.
Thank-you-s were exchanged and I left.