The Union Ministry of Urban development is poised to send a note on conversion of industrial and commercial plots in Delhi from lease-hold to free-hold to the Cabinet for approval. This move is expected, among other things, to allow for industrial land to be used for other purposes. In the context of recent and continuing developments in respect of industries as well as lately exposed land scams, this development throws up a number of questions relating to commodification of urban land and politics of urban development that beg urgent professional dialogue.
Industrial use space in the city is a type of urban space that is, perhaps, most prone to conflicting interests. A conflict between economic benefit and potential environmental nuisance is inherent to many types of industries. Industrial workers and management occupy traditionally adversarial positions and are also positioned differently in urban politics (as, respectively, 'vote-banks' and 'note-banks'). Urban land market attributes of industrial space, especially when located well for optimal residence-workplace relationship, create further real estate interests. It is in the context of these generic attributes of industrial land in the city that the case of industries in Delhi must be viewed. The Master Plan for Delhi, which forms the statutory framework for its planned development in the overall charge of the Delhi Development Authority (constituted by an Act of Parliament and controlled by the Union Ministry for Urban Development), has adequate provisions for industrial space in the city. These are by way of allocations of land for industrial estates for different types of industries as well as norms for flatted factories and integration of certain types of industries in commercial and residential areas. These provisions are designed to minimise the performance-nuisance conflict inherent to industrial use in order that all types of industries can function efficiently for the convenience of workers and without loss of amenity for others. Unfortunately, implementation failures have led to a situation where industrial estates have not been fully developed and provisions for integrating industrial units in non-industrial areas have not been implemented at all. As a consequence the majority of industrial units in Delhi are found in places not meant for industries.
The Great Terrain Robbery: Industrial land in Delhi
At the end of the 1990s a series of court orders in Public Interest Litigation led to the closure of certain types of industries that the Master Plan prohibits in Delhi. The Court also ordered closure or shifting of other units from areas not meant for them to industrial areas. The massive industrial relocation required under these orders continues to be a very problematic exercise, arguably because it is being attempted with no reference to the statutory Master Plan. Instead of clearing 'implementation backlog' on planned industrial development, the Delhi government as well as Union government (involved in the matter on account of Ministry of Urban Development being the nodal ministry of Delhi Development Authority), have both adopted three approaches. They have been forcibly closing units to be able to show compliance with Court orders. They have been, for long, 'in the process' of hastily developing new industrial estates in ways that are not entirely according to Plan. And they have been demanding, from time to time, that the law be changed so that areas not meant to have industries can be allowed to have them so that the problem disappears.
At the end of May 2002, Delhi Development Authority announced a scheme for regularising (against payment) commercial use of industrial space that had been spared by the closure of industries that were prohibited in Delhi but had been functioning in violation of the Master Plan. This was even as other industries were being unceremoniously shut or forced to shift to the outskirts on grounds of there not being enough industrial land in better locations - a classic case of rewarding the culprits while punishing the victims. Independent professionals and a section of the press opposed the move and the Ministry of Urban Development asked DDA to withdraw the scheme. In an unseemly display of chaos, the scheme was re-announced less than a fortnight later and withdrawn again days after that. Subsequently, an intervention was filed in the matter before the Apex Court. Through all this, those engaging on the ongoing Master Plan revision did not comment on the development.
Now, three months later, on the heels of the 'petrol pump scam' and the 'institutional land allotments scam' and a number court cases against the misuse of public land by Delhi Development Authority, the proposal has re-surfaced and is headed for cabinet approval. This is even as the matter is subjudice and the Master Plan is sub-review.
- Entitlements relating to industrial space under the statutory Master Plan for Delhi, 1962 / 19901
- Court directed interventions in respect of industrial units in non-industrial areas, 1996 onwards2
- Delhi Development Authority’s move to regularise commercial use of industrial space, May 20023
News reports of current move:
- 2002-09-12: L-G calls for major changes in urban planning [ IN-Enaction List4 ]
- 2002-09-03: Saigal to head BJP panel on changes in Master Plan, Pioneer [ IN-Enaction List5 ]
- 2002-09-03: Khurana forms team to target Masterplan6, Sreelatha Menon, Express Newsline
- 2002-09-03: Planners throw up their hands at Khurana move7, Esha Roy, Express Newsline
- 2002-08-31 ‘Ananth Kumar has a reason: The ‘changing scenario’8 Express News Service
- 2002-08-31 ‘Land use move welcomed by builder lobby’9, Shivani Singh, in Times of India
- 2002-08-30 ‘Mixed land use: Ananth opens Pandora’s Box’10, Express Newsline
- 2002-08-30 ‘Industrial plots to be free-hold’11, Hindustan Times
- 2002-08-30 ‘Govt to free industrial land from leasehold system’12, Times of India
Related news reports:
- 2002-09-01: Mixed land use and its miseries13, Puja Birla & Esha Roy, Express Newsline
- 2002-09-01: GK I, II: Commerce thrives in colony14, Express News Service, Express Newsline
- 2002-09-01: Anand Parbat: Industrial zone has houses15, Express News Service, Express Newsline
- 2002-08-31 ‘Drink, eat and shop at Metro stations’16 Gunjan Veda, in Express Newsline
- 2002-08-30 ‘Residents move apex court against HC order’17, Express Newsline
- 2002-09-03: Gita Dewan Verma: Open letter to President of India about marginalisation of the planning profession [ IN-Enaction List18]
- 2002-08-31 Gita Dewan Verma: How reasonable are Mr Kumar’s reasons? [ IN-Enaction List19 ]
- 2002-08-30 Sudhir Vohra, ‘Ananth Kumar is at it again?’20, Express Newsline
- 2002-08-30 Gita Dewan Verma, ‘Why bother to revise Masterplan?’21, Express Newsline
In August the Supreme Court asked DDA to clarify the basis for permitting commercial use of industrial land. On 31.10.2002 DDA told the Court that it would withdraw its illegal 'scheme'. In December it also filed an affidavit about action against misuse. This was perhaps the first time in the protracted case that 'misuse' came up, allowing opportunity to put the debate back on course22by raising the issue of all misuse, including non-development, of planned industrial space in the city - in time for the final stages of the on-going Plan revision. On 01.11.2002 a letter23 was sent to MoUD and DDA to request them to take this opportunity to place before the court details of all industrial space of over 2000 hectares earmarked in the Plan, especially since this planning data is currently mandatory on account of the ongoing Plan revision.
ALL THE POSTINGS ON THE SUBJECT INDUSTRIAL LAND IN DELHI AND SHIFTING/ CLOSURE OF INDUSTRIES ARE TRULY TO THE MARK, AND DISPLAY A LOT OF DEDICATED CONCENTRATION ON THE SUBJECT. BUT WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO SAVE THE INDUSTRIES FROM SHUTTING DOWN IN THE PRESENT CONDITIONS ? THE MATTER IS VERY MUCH SERIOUS FROM THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL POINTS OF VIEW FOR THE STATE OF DELHI, AND THE DEAD LINE SET BY THE SUPREME COURT IS FASTLY DRYING NEAR.
> MANGT RAI on July 17, 2004 12:42 AM
- 1. source: http://www.architexturez.net/+/subject-listing/000083.shtml#home
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. Ibid.
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28305
- 7. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28306
- 8. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28034
- 9. source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=20697587
- 10. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=27967
- 11. source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/2002/Aug/30/printedition/300802/detCIT10.shtml
- 12. source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_Id=20597229
- 13. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28161
- 14. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28162
- 15. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28166
- 16. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=28033
- 17. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=27976
- 18. http://www.architexturez.net/+/subject-listing/000083.shtml#home, Op.cit.
- 19. Ibid.
- 20. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=27970
- 21. source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=27971%0A
- 22. source: http://mail.architexturez.net/pipermail/in-enaction/2003-February/000097.html
- 23. source: http://mail.architexturez.net/pipermail/in-enaction/2003-February/000033.html