Delhi's Master Plan provides for planned commercial use at various levels of demand hierarchy, including pioneering provisions for informal and low turnover trade and regulated commercial use in residential areas. The latter have not been implemented, resulting in rampant commercialisation of roadsides and homes and consequent under-use of planned commercial space. Current policy initiatives seek, on one hand, to regularise unplanned commercial use on the absurd plea that all of it is need-based and with no regard to problems and, on the other, to liberalise use of planned commercial space by unintended, up-market users.

In general Delhi's Master Plan envisages facilities for different scales of population - daily need shops in convenient shopping centres catering to residential population of about 5000, somewhat larger scale/range of shops/offices in local shopping centres catering to 15000 and so on. This is to protect residential amenity by keeping non-local traffic-attracting and infrastructure-stressing uses to a minimum, while ensuring optimal workplace-residence relation, etc. Since 1990 the Plan also has mixed land use regulations for planned integration of shops and offices in homes for affordability and convenience advantages to residents, subject to restrictions on extent and nature to ensure there is no nuisance to the area. Shops more suited to higher hierarchies of commercial spaces are prohibited in residential premises and norms for number and type of shops in commercial centres at various hierarchy levels are specified.

Of special note are Delhi Master Plan's pioneering provisions for informal and low turnover shops, perhaps the only comprehensive statutory provisions guaranteeing spatial entitlements for small traders. Besides from an equity perspective, these are significant for addressing the performance-nuisance conflict inherent to small trade, which provides livelihood opportunities to entrepreneurs and affordable and convenient access to goods and services to customers, but can also pose nuisance by way of visual squalor, traffic congestion, etc, if not planned for. The Plan makes provisions for planned commercial space, in line with natural propensities, for 3 - 400,000 hawkers and a similar number of low-turnover shops. In fact the norms for shopping provision were revised upwards in 1990 largely to account for this segment.
Despite pioneering statutory provisions for informal sector and regulated mixed landuse in Delhi, hawkers continue to hawk in problematic ways and small shops in homes continue to turn roads into congested bazaars. Current policy initiatives seek to regularise all this, sparing commercial space planned for them for more remunerative commercial use - neither necessary nor sustainable, but being promoted nevertheless through liberal disposal policies.


  • 2003.02.26: Vasant Kunj hawkers warned of massive removal action, despite assurance of pilot project in court
  • 2003.02.24: Metro police station inaugurated by DDA chairman in building on river-bed / green site covered by Public Notice
  • 2003.02.21: Vasant Kunj MCD Counselor demands hawking licenses for weekly hawking (already issued)
  • 2003.02.20: Inauguration by Police Commissioner of police station in metro building on river-bed / green site covered by Public Notice announced:Comment1
  • 2003.02.18: Tender Notice offering DDA shops for unrestricted use2 posted on DDA website
  • 2003.02.10: Hawking licenses issued for weekly hawking in Vasant Kunj in violation of Plan, despite assurance of pilot project in court


  • 2003.01.27: Mafia buy shops for a song prior to regularisation: News report
  • 2003.01.20: Another Tender Notice offers DDA shops for unrestricted use
  • 2003.01.16: DDA promises pilot-project for Vasant Kunj hawkers, on affidavit
  • 2003.01.09: New master plan focuses on Metro and construction: News report


  • 2002.12.16: Commercial development along Metro corridor: Public Notice3
  • 2002.12.15: Commercial use of residential premises: Public Notice
  • 2002.12.01: Expected increase in plot values after allowing shops: News report


  • 2002.11.29: Regularisation announcements, including shops in homes: Comment
  • 2002.11.15: Upgrading a district centre by downsizing entitlements: Comment


  • 2002.10.30: PIL against DDA Tender Notice offering shops for unrestricted use
  • 2002.10.24: DDA promises pilot project for Vasant Kunj hawkers: Letter
  • 2002.10.02: MCD hawker policy to make NGO-initiative model market: News report
  • 2002.10.10: Councilors stall MCD's new hawker policy: News report


  • 2002.09.02: MCD moots hawker policy in disregard of Plan, to move Supreme Court
Posted by Gita Dewan Verma: 2003-02-17, last modified July 10, 2006 
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