There is a news report about “policy”, under consideration of LG on recommendation of sub-group on social infrastructure for DMP-2021, to allow Nursery schools in homes and change norms for schools in general. The report suggests this is yet another one for exciting “mixed-land-use”. It is not. It is shameless (besides illegal, without jurisdiction, etc) bid to rob children.

"A school could be next door soon - DDA for smaller schools, common playgrounds through mixed land use", Express Newsline, 08.09.20041

In the report unnamed DDA officials have “said the policy was formulated due to limited availability of land in the Capital, combined with the urgent requirement for more schools” and that “Delhi currently has about 1,600 senior secondary schools - half the required number of schools”. In view, it seems, of “increasing shortage of urban land, it is necessary to rationalise standards”, “playgrounds need not be part of the school premises but can be a shared resource between a group of schools”, “integration of nursery schools with primary or senior schools or be allowed to run in residential plots”, “area of land for senior secondary schools… reduced from 1.6 hectares to 0.8 hectares”.

I am quoted in the report, saying, “As far as provision for nursery schools is concerned there is already ample provision in Masterplan 2001 for the same. The matter to be looked into is whether the land that has been earmarked for nursery schools has actually been used for that purpose. This is just a DDA move to regularise the existing illegal nursery schools in residential areas which are more of a commercial venture.” The last sentence is not mine, I am extremely sure “policy” to allow all sorts of things in homes is just a move to legitimize illegal profiteering on planned space meant for them, which point all claiming shortage-of-space (also this news report) seem bent upon ignoring.

DMP requires a Nursery school on 0.08 Ha for a residential cluster of 2500 population, a Primary (class I-V) school on 0.40 Ha for 5000, a Secondary (class VI-XII) school on 1.6 Ha for 7500, a city-level / Integrated school (class I-XII) without hostel on 3.5 Ha and one with hostel on 3.9 Ha for 100,000 and a school for handicapped on 0.50 Ha for 45000. For all sites building area and playfield area, and in case of integrated schools also parking area, is stipulated. These provisions, with lease conditions for local enrollment, ensure neighbourhood schools – Nursery in 5 minutes walking distance / 0.30 km, Primary in 10 minutes / 0.8 km, etc. Within this system, lease condition for 25% free seats, consistent with 25% EWS population stipulation in residential development, are to ensure equal access.

For 112 lakh population that DMP assigned for Delhi UT there have to be 4480 Nursery, 2240 Primary, 1456 Secondary, 224 Integrated and 224 Schools for the handicapped, for which 4525 hectares are duly provided for in DMP and for 14 million that we are, by extrapolation DMP stipulates total of 5656 Ha for schools.

According to the news report we have 1600 senior secondary schools (presumably class I-XII), these are half of what is required and because of shortage-of-land we need to decrease the standard from 1.6 Ha to 0.8 Ha. None of this is true. We do not require either 3200 class VI-XII schools (1.6 Ha) or 3200 class I-XII schools (3.5 Ha). And 0.8 Ha is not what is proposed out of “rationalization”, it is what Delhi Government has been using to distribute “upgradation” permissions on sites meant for smaller schools. Even if the 1600 schools were on 1.6 Ha, as suggested by the news report, and 1600 in future are to be on 0.8 Ha, this adds up to only 3840 Ha.

What this “policy” is stealing from children is equivalent at city level to, for instance, what another “policy” (objections to which in response to Public Notice of April 2004 are pending disposal) is gifting to “metro property development”. But the sweeping transfers from statutory allocations by sundry “policy” have other beneficiaries as well. HT has reported today “policy” to allow auction of residential plots (in forthcoming auctions in Green Park and Jasola) to NRIs. And the exciting “mixed land use” option for Nursery schools in homes is an exigency of what has happened to sites for Nursery schools (which DMP stipulates be pleasantly located next to park or tot-lot near home, I think so that babies can feel comfortably important going to them) – two near my house are (along with primary school site) under one air-conditioned school causing parking mayhem since it is still way short of the 3.5 Ha it needs, one is being used for multi-purpose training/coaching facilities, etc, and a most glamorous one is under girls’ hostel or whatever of Dharambir Khattar (of DDA scam fame).

I did not realize when the reporter called yesterday that the “policy” was another rotten apple in the “mixed-land-use” basket (proposal for “liberalization” of which – contrary to popular perception amidst new-age mixed-land-use ideas, a DMP regime for reasonable mixed land use does exist – Public Notice was issued in December 2002 and objections filed in response have yet to be disposed off) since I got the impression I was contacted in the context of MPISG court matters against substantive violations of DMP provisions for equal access neighbourhood schools. I did mention, routinely and with no hope of being believed, that the main point about these “policies” is that DDA is not empowered to make them, DMP 2021 sub-groups are only to make recommendations by process clearly set out in DMP (guaranteeing accountability on implementation and safeguards against downsizing of entitlements), the inputs are expected to be synthesized into a document to be placed before public for objections and suggestions, not before LG for piece-meal approval, etc.

These inertial “policies”, and their inertial reportage, seems unmindful of the change in government, the National Common Minimum Programme, the interpretation by President of the peoples’ verdict as that for restoration of rule of law and, in case of education, also of the obvious belying of NCMP (besides historic and constitutional) commitments and their repeated reiterations as well as of the fact that court order of January for free seats has not delivered.

The MPISG matters, in which respondents had earlier filed replies that did not answer the petitions, were heard today and DDA was directed to file additional reply in two weeks. The questions about misuse that it and other respondents have skirted in court since December 2003 have been raised since 2000. Frankly, a more suitable “prayer” might have been for directions against pious noises about education.

Gita Dewan Verma | Planner | 08.09.2004

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