Master Plan Implementation Support Group Delhi Master Plan 2021 Minder > Engage

Citizens’ participation through Public Notice

(Master Plan Implementation Support Group and others)

Start-up session in a discussion series on


19 April 2003, 10 am – 1 pm, India International Centre, New Delhi

>> also see account of series

Revision of Delhi’s Master Plan to provide the statutory framework for its development up to 2021 is coming to a close. The draft revised Plan will be placed before public later this year. Efforts of DDA, initiatives of people’s representatives, interventions by courts and views expressed by civil organisations and eminent persons at seminars have gone into shaping the document that will shape the future of the city. For 90-days citizens will be able to comment on it through the Public Notice process. The start-up session for a series of discussions amongst citizens (owners of Delhi Master Plan) and young professionals (its future professional custodians) inclined to gear up to effectively participate over 90-days took place on 19 April. This session was intended to demystify the Plan, its revision and the Public notice, to share lessons from experiences with three recent public notices and to forge alliances between citizens and young professionals interested to gear-up on specific Plan issues to effectively respond to the forthcoming public notice, including through taking charge of subsequent series sessions in this series. Nalini Thakur chaired the presentations and D Raghunandan moderated the discussion seeking commitments for the rest of the series.


the Master Plan, its revision and the Public Notice process

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / Master Plan Implementation Support Group

Delhi Master Plan, statutory framework for the city’s planned development, is primarily a landuse drawing, somewhat like a budget guaranteeing space for all. It is most accurately described as a document of citizens’ entitlements in benefits of planned development by way of equitable space allocations and protection of past and future. Plan revision amounts to modification of entitlements and must follow due process of law, provide accountability on implementation, protect existing entitlements and assure progress on solving problems of the city.

Problems of the city manifest mainly in squalor (slums, roadside trade, non-conforming industries, etc) and shortages (most of all, water). These are not attributable to ‘unanticipated migration in slums’ (Census 2001 slum population is consistent with backlog on Plan targets for plots for the poor). They are not attributable to ‘lack of resources’ (municipal budgets lapse year after year and DDA has abundant land at its disposal). They are not attributable to ‘multiplicity of agencies’ (the Plan is a sufficiently strong framework for orchestrated interventions). They are not attributable to planning failures (the Plan has mandatory provisions to ensure timely correction of these).

Problems of the city owe almost entirely to Plan implementation failures. 0.4 million families in slums, 0.3 million hawkers on roadsides, 0.1 million non-conforming industries, etc, are nothing but implementation backlog against Plan targets for cheap plots, planned hawking space, industrial space, etc. About 5000 hectares of such space is unaccounted for in court cases and policy discourse, inexplicably premised on the assumption that explicitly stated Plan entitlements do not exist. This ‘denial scam’ accounts for much of the squalor problem in the city, the rest of which owes largely to deliberate misuse of public land to resettle or regularise in sub-standard ways in violation of the Plan those denied. And most of the problem of shortages owes to unintended up-market development on land stolen from those denied and, of late, from the future through profit-now-pay-later development on ridge and riverbed.

These failures are more accurately described as subversion of the Plan for profiteering on public land, to the extent of perhaps a fifth of the city. That CBI has lately found corruption at Master Plan minding levels in DDA is not surprising. What is dismaying is that so many others dominating, through their participation or criticism, the Plan revision discourse failed to point this out earlier. In effect those who have subverted the Plan and those unable or unwilling to spot or stop them have now revised it. Far from providing accountability, the revised Plan is headed toward downsizing entitlements, starting with the premise of 23 million people by 2021 even as the Plan itself pegs Delhi’s carrying capacity at about 11 million. This alone will place Delhi on course to becoming a waterless slum.

It is now up to citizens themselves to safeguard their entitlements and the future of their city. An opportunity – indeed responsibility – to do so exists in the form of mandatory 90-days Public Notice process under which the draft revised Plan will be placed before them for objections and suggestions. Public Notice is the only legal process for public participation in the Plan, potentially far more democratic than exclusionary seminars, bhagidari, etc, which have undermined it in recent years.

Master Plan Implementation Support Group, a synergy platform of citizens’ groups engaging, with professional expertise, on Plan entitlements (not intellectual discourse), has recently demonstrated that Public Notice process can be as effective as citizens choose to make it. MPISG, through efforts of its constituents to safeguard a range of entitlements at risk in this Plan revision, has also been pointing since 2001 to complicity at Master Plan minding levels, not just in DDA. MPISG has proposed this series of discussions for concerned citizens and young professionals to gear up to effectively participate through the Public Notice for the revised Plan. Within the ambit of the entitlements’ perspective of the Plan (taken only by MPISG thus far) and importance of citizen-professional collaborations (missing in the currently popular RWA / NGO models of participation), MPISG offers its cooperation to any citizens-professional team concerned about any aspect of the Plan on which MPISG has engaged. | Top |

Experiences with recent Public Notices: Metro Property Development

Poonam Prakash / Planner

The Master Plan envisages multi-modal public transportation and recommends strengthening Ring Rail and Buses and Light Rail transit/MRTS on select corridors. Delhi metro is in conformity with the Plan to the extent of objectives of relieving congestion on roads, etc. However, details of the metro project seem to lack clarity on verifiable objectives, priorities about corridors, etc. Metro property development seems especially fuzzy, hardly justifiable on grounds of essential revenue generation (in view of generous international assistance, tax waivers, cheap electricity, and ideas of a Metro Tax, etc, besides expenses on frills and PR). Concurrent Master Plan revision provided an opportunity for holistic assessment of feasibility of property development along the metro corridor within the context of broader land use and building intensity decisions. Instead, high-intensity property development all along the corridor, itself determined on less than adequate basis, seems to have become a key determinant shaping the revised Plan.

In December 2002 DDA posted on its web-site a Public Notice inviting objections and suggestions for a proposal for change of land use of more than 90 hectares for property development along just 8.3 km of phase-1 corridor. Of this about 52 hectares are in/along the riverbed. According to the Notice this is for the Metro Depot. According to the scheme displayed in DDA offices in Vikas Minar, however, this includes commercial development on 8 hectares (equivalent to the Nehru Place District Centre), residential development on 15 hectares and a curious ‘Temporary use – amusement park’. Of the rest, 26 hectares are to be converted from parks and recreational areas to commercial use.

Such massive commercialisation, which will attract traffic, is contrary to decongestion objectives. Other implications of commercial development on surrounding areas are also not considered. Nor is there an attempt at compensatory land use change to replace parks and recreational areas taken. On the riverbed, duly notified by Central Ground Water Authority for drinking water potential, environmental and ground water issues remain unresolved. The Notice itself says that views of Central Ground Water Commission have yet to be taken. And the Notice was belated, with construction already started on all sites.

That construction had started, without clearance of CGWA where applicable, and that still the scheme displayed was only schematic and not detailed, complete with vague references like ‘Temporary use – amusement park’ suggests an intent to conceal. What confirms this is that the Public Notice about converting nearly 90 hectares of the city’s land, mostly riverbed and green, to commercial use for the metro was not publicized at all, even as the city is fully informed about the innumerable metro frills.

Only three objections were filed, by individuals present here and only because one of them chanced upon the Public Notice and circulated it along with her objection. There has been no official response from DDA. Enquiries have revealed that DDA Master Plan Unit has referred the objections to the Transport Unit, even as they relate to land use planning issues. Through the objection period and beyond, construction on the sites has continued. At the Metro Depot, illegal for being on a site whose Master Plan land use is presumably still riverbed / green, a police station was also inaugurated by the Lieutenant Governor. Acquisition for property development elsewhere also continues.

The Metro Property development Public Notice process has been subverted. This has implications for democracy and systems as it has contributed to elevating some above the law, which has consequent planning implications as well. For instance, metro stations do not have mandatory provision for hawkers, nor are questions raised about the siting of a depot, where all trains are to be washed, along our river whose pollution has become a matter of grave concern.

That the Public Notice was subverted owes largely to the fact that just three objections were simply lost amidst the massive promotional PR about the Metro. How long will we believe and wait that things will get all right? They won’t unless we want them to. | Top |

Experiences with recent Public Notices: Mixed Landuse

Aruna Bhowmick / Citizen activist, Green Park

Residents of Green Park had moved High Court (D Bhowmick and others v/s DDA and others) against unchecked commercial use of homes, which has created huge problems of infrastructure stress and noise and safety for residents. After eight years, in 2002 the Court disposed off the matter saying that authorities do not have powers to seal the premises being misused. An SLP was then filed in the Supreme Court and the High Court order has been stayed and the matter is pending for further hearing. The case was based on the violation of Master Plan landuse provisions, though it did not refer specifically to the Mixed Use Regulations, nor did government, as respondents, care to place them before the court. These provisions represent citizens’ entitlements to benefits of limited regulated commercial use in residential areas in a way that residential amenity is protected at area level while individual users and consumers can benefit from convenience and other advantages of mixed use.

The issue of disposal of local commercial facility space in residential areas for profitable but unintended up-market commerce, leaving local shops to come up in homes and fuelling further commercialisation there, was also taken to court (MPISG and others v/s DDA and Ministry of Urban Development) in October 2002.

Despite both these matters being sub-judice and the Master Plan being sub-review, on 15 December 2002 DDA brought out a Public Notice inviting objections and suggestions to its proposal for incorporating ‘after the para of ‘Nursing Home, Guest House and Bank’’ in the Mixed Use Regulations in the Master Plan “Creche, Chemist Shops, Art Galleries, STD/ISD Booths, Florists and Day Care Centres shall be allowed in the residential plots subject to similar conditions applicable for Nursing Home, Guest House and Bank”.

This Public Notice was grossly defective. The uses ‘proposed’ to be incorporated are already permissible by virtue of not being prohibited by the Mixed Use Regulations. While conveying the impression that the range of permissible uses is to be expanded, the Notice is actually about a modification that changes the ‘conditions’ under which they may be permitted. And these ‘conditions’ are impossible for general public to access on the basis of just this Notice. The Master Plan gazette notification referred to in the Notice does not contain a ‘para of Nursing Home, Guest House and Bank’ or ‘conditions applicable’ to their permissibility. In fact, it expressly prohibits Nursing Homes and Guest Houses, etc, on residential plots. These were permitted only in 1999 through a gazette notification to which the Notice makes no reference. In effect, the Public Notice neither reveals nor directs the public to what it solicits public comment about. The ‘conditions’ to be incorporated into the Plan through this defective Notice will ‘liberalize’ commercial exploitation of residential premises. In terms of scale, existing regulations permit only 25% or 50 square metres on ground floor to be used for commercial use. The 1999 notification allows 2/3 or 3/4 FAR to be so used. In terms of extent, existing regulations require identification of mixed-use streets / pockets based on detailed studies. The 1999 notification relaxes this to allow commercialisation of any plot on an 18m road, relaxable to 9m in special areas and further relaxable subject only to fire clearance. Nuisance mitigation, central to Plan regulations requiring provision of parking space inclusive of front setbacks of mixed use properties, is foregone in the 1999 notification, which ‘exempts’ private establishments from contribution to dealing with parking congestion they would cause and DDA from responsibility of detailed planning. The 1999 notification also relaxes financial liability of mis-users. All this is at the cost of neighbourhood amenity and, therefore, does not further the purpose of the Regulations sought to be modified. Nor does it account for the fact that if the proposed increase in commercial use at plot level is not offset by curtailment of commercial use at neighbourhood level, i.e., in markets, balanced development goals of residential development will be jeopardized. At city level this will add up to excess commercial use, neither needed nor sustainable, serving only real estate interests.

Of course, it was impossible for any one in public to have known all this on the basis of the Public Notice. MPISG Planner however could and did file a detailed objection, which has not been heard yet. Then, on 28 March 2003, one day after the CBI raids, DDA approved the proposal for regularizing shops in residential areas, which was reported in a newspaper on 29 March. MPISG Planner, with locus standii of having objected and not having been heard and of the issue being sub-judice in an MPISG matter, wrote to MoUD to object to the approval and copied the letter to CBI on grounds that officials caught by it had processed the approval. With reference to the D Bhowmick & others SLP a letter has, likewise, been written to CBI to seek inquiry into the approval. | Top |

Experiences with recent Public Notices: DDA 56 hectare scheme for mega-housing projects, etc, in green belt

Master Plan Implementation Support Group

In July 2000 DDA demolished 50 homes in a 50-year old settlement in Rangpuri Pahari near Sultangarhi Tomb / Vasant Kunj, falling in J-zone, designated beyond urbanisable limits with Master Plan landuse rural/agriculture, inclusive of green belt and in an area notified by CGWA as being critical. Citizens groups from old bastis in the area started seeking clarifications about DDA’s scheme, J-zone plan and mandatory landuse change. In June 2001 soil testing commenced on the site and they objected formally on grounds of infringement of outstanding Plan entitlements for housing on available land. In 2001 DDA displayed at a public function on the site a scheme consisting of HIG housing and international heritage centre. MPISG called a meeting of citizens’ and professional groups to talk about the scheme details as displayed and how they were in departure from the Plan. Citizens’ groups from Mahipalpur and Rangpuri villages objected on grounds of infringement of long overdue Plan entitlements for development of facilities in the vicinity, the former also for conservation interventions’ priority. Flat residents objected on grounds of water crisis. Delhi Science Forum and Forum for Indian Heritage and Culture wrote to object to broader ground water and heritage implications. MPISG Planner and Delhi Science Forum also wrote to CGWA. In March 2002 DDA started construction through large firms. MPISG wrote to object in continuation of objections by constituent groups and to ask for clarification of techno-legal basis of the scheme. By June it was established that the scheme did not have mandatory land use change clearance and MPISG Planner wrote several times to MoUD to ask that it be immediately stopped for being illegal and also to CGWA to point out that illegal tube-wells had been sunk. In July 2002 CGWA wrote to DDA to object. MPISG Planner wrote again to MoUD with copy of this letter. When no action was forthcoming Delhi Science Forum filed a PIL in August 2002. On 11 September, after the part final hearing at which it was clear that the court had taken a very serious of view of DDA’s violation of its own Act, DDA brought out a small Public Notice for land use change in the Sunday papers on 15 September. With this it tried to persuade the court to allow it to continue construction, but the court ordered the scheme stopped and enquired into while disposing off the matter on 16 September 2002.

All constituents of MPISG ‘re-filed’ objections already filed and asked if individual objections were needed. As DDA not respond, in the second half of the 30-day notice period, MPISG ran an objection facilitation service through which over 1700 objections were filed. These were mainly from Mahipalpur and Rangpuri Pahari, most directly affected by the scheme. Residents from slums in Vasant Kunj also objected in large numbers in view of pendency in court of their case praying for settlement in the vicinity according to Plan. 20 flat residents also objected. MPISG sent the Public Notice to others and the Federation of RWAs of Vasant Kunj and FIHC also objected. MPISG Planner also wrote to various public authorities and Delhi government to point out how the scheme infringed their mandates / activities and also provisions of the Master Plan and DDA Act that enjoined upon them the responsibility to have stopped it already. Only CGWA replied to say that it had objected.

Work continued on the site in contempt of court through and beyond the Public Notice period. Very likely because of (besides MPISG complaints and letters, including a detailed one to Commissioner Planning from MPISG Planner about lapses in Public Notice process) the scale of objections filed through MPISG and the fact of their being based on infringement of Plan entitlements, work stopped in November. On 27 January 2003 DDA held a Public Hearing. The Board had planners from outside as well. MPISG sent it a report of the hearing, to which no response has been received. But the scheme has clearly been halted, perhaps till the Master Plan is revised to allow it. MPISG is geared up to continue to safeguard entitlements through the Public Notice at that stage as well.

MPISG convenors/co-convenors Lal Singh (villages), Samay Singh (old bastis / Rangpuri Pahari), Prabha Chand (flats), Mahender (hawkers), Rajinder (on behalf of recent slums) and Hoti Lal (students-parents forum) presented their experiences of the Public Hearing. These suggest that the citizens had greater understanding of the Plan in terms of their entitlements than those hearing them. MPISG believes that what made this Public Notice effective and impossible to subvert was (a) the citizens-professional combination for filing focussed objections, (b) the synergetic approach that pre-empted any divide-and-rule tactic, (c) sustained engaging by citizens against the continuing construction, (d) sustained engaging by MPISG planner against procedural lapses, and, above all (e) the firm belief that something will happen if, and only if, we do something. | Top |


Decisions about the rest of the series

This discussion series is not intended for intellectual discourse on general opinions about what should be done about Delhi, but specifically for only citizens and young professionals to get together to gear up to engage on the revised Master Plan in the 90-day Public notice period to ensure existing entitlements are safeguarded and enhanced. With this purpose commitments were sought from those present for their participation on issues of interest to them so that citizens-professionals teams could form to take charge of subsequent sessions.

From experiences of MPISG what is needed of professionals is to clearly identify existing Plan entitlements and connect them to specific situations concerning citizens as well as to the broader context and, most importantly, to not advocate ideas unrelated to the statutory Plan as these may be of no use to citizens at this stage. What is required of citizens is to be prepared to give precedence to the entitlements perspective and use it to evaluate their other initiatives (such as in bhagidari) so as not to simultaneously be taking actions indirectly or directly detrimental to the pursuit of Plan entitlements. What is required of both is sustained regular interaction and also engaging various authorities directly or indirectly concerned and also extra effort to involve more professionals and citizens as issues grow or connect to other issues.

KC Nahata / Coordinator Forum of Voters has suggested need for a bigger group. AS Karandikar has also pointed out need for scale in response to Public Notice. Prabha Chand and Aruna Bhowmick expressed reservations about limiting discussions to RWAs as they do not always represent residents. VC Tandon suggested using RWAs for creating a climate of resistance as problems have grown to a point that people are beginning to understand that there is need to resist. Aruna Bhowmick drew attention to usefulness of consulting professionals.

The following specific interests / commitments for subsequent discussion responsibilities were forthcoming from citizens’ groups and young professionals:

From both: Regulating non-residential activity in plotted residential areas (Aruna Bhowmick / Green Park and other RWAs and others; Urmi Buragohain); Agricultural land use (K C Nahata / Forum of Voters; Jayant Gehi)

From citizens: Parking (A S Karandikar / Paschim Vihar)

From young professionals: Heritage (Nitin Sinha and others); Water (Pravin Pannikar); Informal sector (Poonam Prakash)

Support / input based on recent / continuing engaging in the following areas were also offered: Heritage – listing issues (Nalini Thakur, Smita Makhija); Water (D Raghunandan); Industries (Gita Dewan Verma); Housing (MPISG / Mahanagar Asangathit Mazdur Union); and hawking / commercial use / mixed use / water / parking / schools / other facilities / institutions / villages / rural land / heritage (MPISG). | Top |


1. Vivan Sundaram, 3/9 Shanti Niketan ND-21, 26881829

2. Chetan Sahasrabudhe, I-82 Lajpat Nagar ND-24, 9810390136

3. Pana Lal, Advocate Supreme Court, 23385551

4. Pravir Kumar, The Pioneer, 23718298

5. Atish Mandal, B-58/149, Gurunanak Pura 3rd Floor, Laxmi Ngr ND-92, 9810633057

6. Harpunit Singh Mann, E-10A Defence Colony ND, 24692143

7. Smita Datta Makhija, 7459 B-10 Vasant Kunj ND, 26890569

8. Pradeep Prakash, 31F/7 Jasola ND, 26974375

9. M S Ganesh, 211 Supreme Encl. Mayur Vihar Ph.I Delhi-91, 22790258

10. A Hassan, M.A.M.U., 1996/5 Kotla Mubarakpur ND-3, 24693278

11. Ratnajyoti Dutta, B-86 Pandav Nagar Delhi-92, 9811174677

12. Urmi Buragohain, I-82 Lajpat Nagar-1 ND-24, 9810881183

13. VC Tandon, D-11 Gulmohar Park ND, 26967665

14. Madhu Bajpai, N-7/C Saket ND-17, 26853379

15. Richa Bansal, 1078 Vikas Kunj Vikas Puri ND-18, 25622931

16. Pravin Pannikar, A-804 Aastwana Apts Mayr Vihar-I Delhi-91, 22719721

17. Jayant Gehi, 11-D DDA Flats opp N Friends Colony ND-65, 9811880667

18. R N Nandwani, IC 101 Lajpat Nagar ND-24, 29819948

19. H N Kau, C-5/35 Vasant Kunj, 26125370

20. Ajit Narain, C-5/5 G Fl Vasant Kunj, 26131494

21. D Raghunandan, DSF, D158 LGF Saket ND-29, 26524324

22. P S Bawa, EB 62 Maya Enclave ND-64, 25129048

23. Sayed S Shafi, 22 Hauz Khas SFS Aptts ND-16, 26851171

24. K C Nahata, Forum of voters, B-3/309 Paschim Vihar ND-63, 25286311

25. G C Laha, PB 10846 Calcutta-700009, 22413530

26. HN Ray, C-18 Friends Colony ND 65, 26842167

27. B Sarat Chandra, F66 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND, 9811913641

28. Nalini Thakur, 2 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND, 26934602

29. Kruti Garg, S-27 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND

30. Yatin Jain, F-69 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND, 9811469596

31. A S Karandikar, 66 Anadvan A-6 Paschim Vihar ND, 9811414417

32. Mohd Farhan Fazli, F-68 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND

33. T Lakshmi Priya, D-8 8040 Vasant Kunj ND, 26121114

34. Nitin Sinha, F64 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND, 9811898398

35. Poonam Prakash, 12 SPA Complex Taimoor Nagar ND, 26318986

36. Aruna Bhowmick, Green Park Extn ND, 26165132

37. Ramu Chauhan, Central Market Masoodpur

38. Lal Singh Sehrawat, Mahipalpur, MPISG

39. Samay Singh, Rangpuri Pahari, MPISG

40. Rajender Singh, Rangpuri Pahari, MPISG

41. Gulab, Rangpuri Pahari, MPISG

42. Hoti Lal, RPVEAM, MPISG

43. Asham, RPVEAM, MPISG

44. Praveen Yadav, RPVEAM, MPISG

45. Sushil Verma, Vasant Kunj, MPISG

46. Prabha Chand, Vasant Kunj, MPISG


48. Mahender, VKRPVEM, MPISG

49. Ratan Paul, Arjun Camp, MPISG

50. Md Habib, Arjun Camp, MPISG

51. Babu Khan, Arjun Camp, MPISG

52. Gita Dewan Verma, MPISG, 1356 DI Vasant Kunj ND-70, 26895840

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