Law and instruction for land loot
DELHI COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES' BILL AND DELHI MASTER PLAN 'GUIDELINES'
If you consider it appropriate do forward or write about this to whoever you consider appropriate
On 28 July 2003 Delhi Cooperative Societies' Bill was introduced in Delhi Assembly, despite admitted violation of the policy of socialisation of land by which the state has acquired land for 40 years in Delhi under the central Delhi Development Act after, and in disregard of, citizens' requests to legislators to not field an illegal Bill.
And Delhi Master Plan 'guidelines',in contravention of the statutory Master Plan for which all this land was acquired, wereannounced by Union Urban Development Minister and Lieutenant Governor, without any powers to make such announcement, in contravention of due process of Plan revision and disregard of a number of Public Notice, judicial and Parliamentary processes currently underway.
In the convergence of election year and Master Plan end-game, we have now illegal law and instruction for land loot.
The discourse has yet again drifted towards irresponsible
debate over red herring guidelines announced without jurisdiction at a mere press conference, while the admittedly illegal Cooperative Societies' Bill was approved on 29 July 2003 by Delhi Assembly (for greater powers for which in the name of democracy a Statehood Bill may well be tabled in Parliament around Independence Day - also in election-year frenzy) and has reportedly been sent to the President for his assent.
Nearly a hundred citizens who tried to dissuade legislators from taking up the Bill in our Assembly have started writing to the President to bring to his attention facts that went unrecorded in the official chronicling of its history. The following is an Open Letter amongst these.
OPEN LETTER TO THE HON’BLE PRESIDENT OF INDIA
DELHI COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES’ BILL APPROVED ON 29.07.2003
AND ‘GUIDELINES’ FOR DELHI MASTER PLAN ANNOUNCED ON 28.07.2003
ILLEGAL AND DISCRIMINATORY LAW AND POLICY FOR LAND LOOT?
I am writing to you in desperation after having tried and failed to draw attention to what can only be called loot of public land in Delhi. In utter disregard of Delhi’s statutory Master Plan and due process of law for its modification, policies and now law are being made to deny citizens’ entitlements to use of city space and to equitable sustainable city growth and disciplined lawful city development.
On 28.07.2003 the Cooperative Societies’ Bill was introduced in Delhi Assembly. The Bill is illegal for being in contravention of Delhi’s land policy of compulsory acquisition for development according to Master Plan, which permitted land allotment to cooperatives at reasonable rather than market rates to facilitate low and middle-income housing and does not allow blanket condoning of power-of-attorney transactions.
The illegality is serious as it includes omission of the democratic Public Notice process mandatory under an Act of Parliament for making the pre-required Plan modification. The illegality is also admitted inasmuch as that concerned Minister and drafting Committee chairperson were quoted in the press on 26.07.2003 conceding it. Nevertheless, the admittedly illegal Bill that condones for the rich the very violation for which the poor are simultaneously being punished in the city was introduced on 28.07.2003. And it was introduced despite citizens’ requests to Chief Minister, concerned Minister and ruling and opposition MLAs to use the Assembly session to discuss instead the White Paper on slums promised in two months on 27.05.2003. On 29.07.2003 the Bill was approved and is to be sent to you for assent.
I am enclosing a note on how the Bill is illegal and discriminatory (Encl.1).
Also on 28.07.2003 Union Urban Development Minister and Delhi Lieutenant Governor announced Master Plan ‘guidelines’ radically different from the statutory Master Plan for development according to which land has been acquired in Delhi since 1962. I am unable to think of a legal basis for these ‘guidelines’, which skirt accountability about use of public land to condone and legitimise its misuse.
Builders have been reported welcoming the ‘guidelines’ and saying in Dwarka they have been illegally building in the guise of cooperatives, which the Bill now legitimises. MPs have been reported saying “exceptional powers” have been given to LG to make ‘guidelines’ contrary to the Plan a “part” of it and “it is their Ministry and they can do what they want”. Today a report says Delhi MPs responded to media questions about legality of ‘guidelines’ with the counter-question ‘Are your offices legal?’
I do not wish to believe that questions about legality of media offices explain why media fails to raise questions about illegality of the land loot. I do not wish to believe what CBI found in just one instance explains in any way how courts are misused or misled to let the land loot pass. I do not wish to believe that the silence of the Standing Parliamentary Committee that had last month invited and has received public views, including about the land loot just become ‘guidelines’, means that “exceptional powers” to do “what they want” are somehow possible. I do not wish to believe that the fact that Delhi Assembly did not even mention the White Paper on slums that was due and passed an admittedly illegal Bill for which there was no hurry could mean that the debate on Statehood for our city is not so much about democracy as about control over its land. But as a planner I am finding it increasingly difficult to fit to the state of affairs any hypothesis other than truism of what I do not wish to believe.
I am enclosing (Encl.4) also my submission of 08.07.2003 to Standing Parliamentary Committee and the letter I have now written to seek personal hearing as well as the letter I had written to you on 03.09.2002 about marginalisation of planning professionals in alarm over Master Plan related announcements that have now become ‘guidelines’ (Encl.53).
It is hardly for me to presume to make a request amounting to a suggestion under the circumstances. I am writing only to bring to your attention facts that, in my professional opinion, merit consideration not yet received in deciding about the Cooperative Societies’ Bill awaiting only your assent.
Begging your indulgence for any impropriety in this letter,
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 30.07.2003
Letters to the President can be sent to:
President's Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi; Fax nos. 23017290, 23017824; eml. email@example.com
see also Delhi Master Plan / Politics of Planning4, 13.09.2002
posted 31.07.2003 | mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
ILLEGAL AND DISCRIMINATORY LEGISLATION CONTRARY TO DELHI MASTER PLAN
1. THE BILL IS ADMITTEDLY ILLEGAL.
Express Newsline, 26.07.2003: ‘Co-op Bill: DDA did not notify people, says govt’5
2. THE ILLEGALITY IS SERIOUS
Under Delhi’s land policy all land was compulsorily acquired under s.15 of Delhi Development Act of 1957 and placed at disposal of the state only for purpose of the Act, viz, development according to Master Plan. No private development was envisaged except through cooperatives, which were given land at reasonable rather than market rates to facilitate low and middle-income housing. Original members have in many cases sold their flats and the Bill, like the freehold policy for DDA flats, seeks to ‘regularise’ these transactions, contrary to the land policy. Since the land policy is part of Delhi Master Plan, this amounts to a Plan modification, possible only by due process of s.11A of the Act explicated further in the statutory provisions for Plan monitoring and review in the Master Plan. This due process includes consideration of planning and Plan implementation monitoring data, consultation with various authorities, opportunity for public scrutiny and comment by due process of Public Notice, etc. The state legislation is effectively scuttling the mandatory process required by the central Act to condone past illegal transactions in housing stock meant for low and middle-income groups and open up the cooperative housing system to free market dynamics in the future that will take it farther away from the reach of non-rich groups in the society whom it was meant to cater to.
3. THE ILLEGALITY IS DISCRIMINATORY
In November Delhi High Court ruled that sale of subsidised resettlement plots was illegal and directed surveys to identify cases where original allottees had sold their plots and cancellation of allotments in such cases. These surveys have started. The same illegality, however, is being condoned in case of DDA flats through the policy of conversion from leasehold to freehold tenure and in case of cooperatives through this Bill. The obvious discrimination is all the more serious because resettlement colonies are sub-standard in contravention of the Master Plan, with plot sizes half of the minimum permissible and locations in city fringes contrary to its provisions for integration of the poor in all residential areas to the extent of 25%. In context of recent reports of flooding in Bhakarwala, water-logging in Bhalaswa, oil pipeline in Madanpur Khadar, etc, besides routine reports of lack of facilities and livelihood opportunities in resettlement colonies, what the dual policy really says is that it is alright for the rich to buy out original allottees in good quality flats built by cooperatives or the state, but the poor can only abandon and not sell sub-standard plots that they were practically forced to buy.
4. THE TIMING IS DISCRIMINATORY
On 27.05.2003 Delhi Government had announced a white paper on slums in two months. Especially after the High Court quashed Delhi’s illegal and defunct slum policy in November 2002 in particular and because slums represent the most significant Master Plan implementation backlog in general, there can be no doubt that it is low-income housing that merits priority attention, not a few thousand power-of-attorney buyers in a housing sub-system that does not contribute a significant quantitative share of housing stock in the city and caters to a group that does have other options in the housing market. Yet, instead of presenting in the Assembly on 28.07.2003 the White Paper on slums promised in two months on 27.05.2003, the Government presented the illegal Cooperative Societies’ Bill. In the news report of 26.07.2003 the Minister denied discrimination against the poor.
5. ILLEGALITY AND DISCRIMINATION WERE POINTED OUT
When the freehold policy was announced, when surveys in resettlement colonies started, in a citizens’ joint statement6 of 05.07.2003, in memoranda sent to Standing Parliamentary Committee by 10.07.2003, when the cooperative Bill became imminent, conflict with Delhi Development Act and lopsided housing priorities were pointed out. On the morning of 28.07.2003 nearly a hundred residents from various slums and resettlement colonies went to CM’s residence to ask for the White Paper and to hand over a demand for its discussion before the Cooperative Bill. A number of them went to the Assembly to request the same of MLAs before the Bill was presented and to ask that the Bill be held back till the question of its legality had been satisfactorily dealt with.
6. THE BILL WAS INTRODUCED IN THE ASSEMBLY AT THE END OF THE DAY ON 28.07.2003
Unfortunate history has already been written. Television reports had the Minister waxing eloquent about benefits to power-of-attorney buyers, relaxation of registrar’s control, greater democracy, etc, etc, opposition MLAs taking credit for the draft, a Professor from SPA expressing lay concern about those power-of-attorney buyers who might not have the money to pay the measly fine/fee of Rs.10,000 and freehold conversion price. One report had old-fashioned me fretting about the law and land just before I made a last ditch request to the Minister to please not do this. And tomorrow the illegal Bill will be ‘discussed’ and, in all probability, passed. The White Paper on slums, on the other hand, is nowhere in sight, nor did any MLA or media bring that up today despite the request circulated.
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
posted to mpisgplanner mailing list on 28.07.2003
Minister of Urban Development, Government of India
According to news reports ‘guidelines’ for Delhi’s ‘third’ Master Plan, radically different from Delhi’s statutory Master Plan, have been announced, and perhaps tabled in Parliament, yesterday. I seek clarification of the legal / Constitutional basis of these ‘guidelines’ in view of the following:
1. Delhi Master Plan, the purpose of Delhi Development Act and of public land acquisition for 40 years in Delhi is a continuing document. The Plan can neither be abandoned nor substituted by a ‘new’ Plan, as that would make huge amount of land acquisition malafide. The one and only Master Plan can only be modified by due process of law set out in s.11A of the Act and explicated in Plan monitoring and review provisions of the Plan as approved, after comprehensive revision, in 1990. The statutory framework for equitable and sustainable planned development on public land provided by Delhi Master Plan guarantees all citizens entitlements in use of city space and the city safe passage from past to future. Due process of law for Plan modification entitles citizens to accountability on Plan implementation and safeguards against downsizing of entitlements by willful modifications to sweep implementation failures under the carpet or condone / legitimise misuse of public land. This due process does not contemplate, nor can it be pre-empted or substituted by, any ‘guidelines’. It appears, therefore, that the ‘guidelines’ frustrate the law.
2. Most matters covered by the ’guidelines’ are sub-judice in Delhi High Court and/or Supreme Court. In particular, despite repeated requests, the state has failed to place in courts details of about a tenth of the city’s space meant for low-income housing, industries and small trade or the legal basis for sub-standard resettlement / regularization in lieu of settlement according to Plan for those aggrieved by this implementation failure and currently in slums, non-conforming industries, illegal and inadequate tehbazari units, etc. The ‘guidelines’, in disregard of these gross implementation and accountability failures, frustrate judicial processes that are underway.
3. A number of matters covered by the ‘guidelines’, including property development along the Metro, liberalization of existing mixed use regulations, conversion of residential use to industrial, land use change in J-zone, are subject of Public Notice processes not yet complete. The ‘guidelines’ also frustrate these, the only legal and democratic, processes of citizens’ participation in planning.
4. In June Lok Sabha Standing Parliamentary Committee for Urban and Rural development had invited by 10 July 2003 views of public on the functioning of DDA (statutorily confined to Master Plan implementation, monitoring and review). These ‘guidelines’ also frustrate Parliamentary processes, inclusive of public views sought by and sent to a Parliamentary Committee.
5. One of the news reports has Delhi BJP President / Member of Parliament saying that LG has been given “exceptional powers” to make these ‘guidelines’ part of the Master Plan. The same report has Union Minister for Tourism and Culture saying, “It is their ministry and they can do what they want”. I am only a planner but I think “exceptional powers” to frustrate relevant law and judicial, Public Notice and Parliamentary processes cannot be Constitutional, nor are our ministries any one’s to “do what they want”, and the ‘guidelines’ are not justifiable on such basis.
I also seek clarification of the basis on which the Cooperative Societies’ Bill introduced in Delhi Assembly yesterday was cleared by DDA / Central Government, since it conflicts with Delhi’s land policy and amounts to a substantive Plan modification and, effectively, circumvents due process of the central Act for doing this. On 26.07.2003 the Minister as well as the Chairperson of the drafting committee were quoted conceding this legal problem in the Bill, which was, nevertheless, introduced in the Assembly yesterday despite a large number of citizens trying in vain to impress upon CM, MLAs and Minister to not do so. I seek this clarification in the context of the ‘guidelines’ (which some newspapers say were tabled in Parliament) because of coincident timing and commonality of disregard of due process for Plan modification as well as synergy, as reflected in comments in the press by builders who, welcoming the ‘guidelines’, have admitted to (mis)using the co-operative sub-system for non-permissible private builder activity in places like Dwarka, which the Cooperative Bill will condone and legitimize and which the ‘guidelines’ also propose.
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 29.07.03
Smt Sonia Gandhi
Office of the Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha)
44, Parliament House,
New Delhi - 110001
Sub: Arguably illegal ‘guidelines’ for Delhi Master Plan jointly announced by Union Urban Development Minister and DDA Chairman yesterday in synergy with the admittedly illegal Cooperative Societies’ Bill introduced in Delhi Assembly simultaneously.
Two months ago on 28.05.2003 we had come to seek your intervention as leader of opposition in the matter of denial of Master Plan entitlements of citizens, especially the poor, by both Central Government and Delhi Government. We had explained how our experiences show that public land meant for planned development, duly defined in law as development according to Master Plan, is being systematically usurped through violations of the Master Plan and due process for its modification.
I wrote to you thrice subsequently before yesterday, when we left in your office a letter about the Cooperative Societies’ Bill that was to be introduced in Delhi Assembly later and which the concerned Minister had conceded in the press on 26.07.2003 was in conflict with Master Plan land policy and had disregarded due process of law for Plan modification, inclusive of Public Notice, under Delhi Development Act, an Act of Parliament.
We did try our best to impress upon our MLAs and our Minister not to introduce the Bill till the question of its legality was satisfactorily answered, having already approached our Chief Minister with the same request in the morning. However, the admittedly illegal Bill was introduced in Delhi Assembly. Later we learned that arguably illegal ‘guidelines’ in complete disregard of due process of Master Plan modification, besides judicial, Public Notice and Parliamentary processes underway, had also been issued, and possibly tabled in Parliament, by MoUD/DDA the same day.
Two months after we had solicited your intervention for safeguarding citizens’ Master Plan entitlements to use of land in the city, I write to reiterate the same request – this time in distress, since the illegal processes of usurping public land seem to have entered our Assembly and our Parliament.
I am enclosing herewith the open letter I have sent to Union Urban Development Minister to request clarification of the legal / Constitutional basis of the ‘guidelines’ announced. I am convinced that no such basis is possible, but would be very happy to be corrected, as I would rather be proven wrong about my worldview of planned development than be proven right about my inference that unconstitutional planning policy and law that clearly privilege vested interests over public interest are being sanctified by my Assembly and my Parliament.
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner / 29.07.03
Encl. as above
On 27 May government had promised a ‘white paper’ on slums in two months
We had asked statutory provisions of Delhi Master Plan, adequate for solving Delhi’s slum problem, be implemented. Criticising the Plan, CM had said the ‘white paper’ would be better
On 26 June Election Commission directed there would be no evictions till election
In a citizens’ statement we asked for a stay on demolitions not only for protection of voting rights but till implementation of housing rights as bound in law in the Master Plan or better
On 25 July CM said Basti Vikas Kendras, etc, be given to NGOs to provide shelter to the homeless and citizens should also not expect state protection against harassment
Public welfare and security are state responsibilities that civil society can supplement but not supplant. And discourse on Night Shelters7 cannot divert attention from housing rights.
Now government has admitted that the Co-operative Bill to benefit ‘power-of-attorney’ flat buyers modifies Master Plan land policy without due process of Public Notice
Continuing denial of citizens’ Master Plan entitlements and support via Plan modifications without due process of Public Notice to illegal misuse call for clarification.
Before discussing the Co-operative Bill, illegal under Delhi Development Act, Master Plan and land policy, the Assembly should discuss the slum White Paper, promised to better statutory housing entitlements existing in the Master Plan.
Citizens will reach the CM’s residence at 8 am on 28 July to request the White Paper and a discussion on it in the Assembly and will meet again at 3 pm outside the Assembly for information about the proceedings.
MASTER PLAN IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORT GROUP
Samay Singh, Convenor, Rangpuri Pahari
Rohtash, Convenor, Garhiya Lohars
Badri Prasad, Convenor, Vasant Kunj
Ayodhya Rai, Convenor, Govindpuri-Okhla
Shameem, Convenor, Nangla Maach - Yamuna Pushta
Badri Prasad, Convenor, Bhalaswa-Jahangirpur
Ram Kishore, Convenor, Holambi
Kamla Khan, Convenor, Tikri
Chetan Mandal, Convenor, Narela
and, in solidarity, other citizens’ groups synergising on MPISG
Contact: 1356 D-I Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – 110070; Ph: 26895840, 26132921; eml: email@example.com
posted to mpisgplanner mailing list on 27.07.2003
- 1. DELHI MASTER PLAN 2021 MINDER
A Plan revision minder to help citizens gear up for effectively participating through the Public Notice process under which the draft of the revised Plan was to be placed before them for 90 days in 2003 (suspended due to delay in Public Notice)
- 2. Delhi Master Plan 2021 - ENGAGE
The ENGAGE section of DMP-2021 hopes to create a Comfort Zone for citizens of Delhi (owners of Delhi Master Plan) and its young urban professionals (professional custodians of DMP-2021) to gear-up with Campaigns and Activities to effectively engage on Plan revision for 90-days of Public Notice as well as to forge alliances to engage on Plan implementation up to 2021.
- 3. source: http://mail.architexturez.net/pipermail/in-enaction/2002-September/000003.html
- 4. source: http://www.architexturez.net/+/subject-listing/000088.shtml
- 5. ‘Co-op Bill: DDA did not notify people, says govt’
Express News Service
New Delhi, July 25: The Government today blamed the DDA for violation of law in the Cooperative Societies Bill to be introduced in the Assembly on Monday. The Bill, in a departure from prevailing land policy, legalises power of attorney ownership of houses in societies. As per the DDA Act, a public notice should be issued and objections invited before making modifications in the Masterplan.
Development Minister Haroon Yusuf said that the DDA was responsible for the lapse and the government had no role. ‘‘We had taken the DDA’s consent before introducing the clause on regularising the power of attorney holders of house ownership,’’ he said. Yusuf denied that the law was discriminatory against the poor. He said that power of attorney ownership was illegal in resettlement colonies and would continue to be so. There can be no uniform solution to all problems, he said. BJP legislator Nandkishore Garg, who headed the committee set up to draft the bill, said that the DDA and the Union Urban Development Ministry had approved the regularisation of ownership of power of attorney holders in societies. He, however, agreed that the DDA had to inform the public before changing the law of the land.
- 6. source: http://skel.architexturez.net/mpisg/documents/030705.htm
- 7. Delhi Master Plan / Night Shelters