In a five-part series starting tomorrow, HT will look into specific problems hampering the progress of Delhi’s master plans and analyse issues..

The national capital has witnessed unplanned and unchecked urban growth at an unprecedented pace in the last five decades, with civic infrastructure collapsing in certain pockets of Delhi in the past few years. 

Arunava Dasgupta, urban planner from School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), said the perennial gap between planning and execution is because the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Municipal Corporations do not work in tandem. 

“The two agencies are working separately in term of governance. One (DDA) is making the plan and other (civic agencies) are following it up. Somewhere down the line, convergence does not take place. Sealing crisis would have been lesser, if the DDA and MCDs had conviction, mechanism and intent to work together,” he said. 

As DDA is in process to notify changes in MPD 2021 due to a number of pressing circumstances — sealing drive by Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee and public protest seeking enhancement of Floor Area Ratio (FAR), commercial use of basements, and reduction of conversion charges — Hindustan Times starting Sunday takes a look at previous Master Plans for Delhi (1961, 2001, and 2021) and provisions made for organised development specifically in five zones—Walled city, Walled city extension area, Resettlement and unauthorised colonies, villages, and New Delhi (Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone). Through the five part series, HT will look into problems in specific areas hampering the progress and analyse issues responsible for failure of Master Plans for Delhi.

Imbalance between planning and implementation since 1962

The first Master Plan of Delhi, 1962, termed the Walled city (mentioned as special area) as a slum, set out the broad vision for its development and laid down planning guidelines to meet the increasing demand of space for commercial and residential use.

Similar policies and recommendations were incorporated in the following Master Plans. Apparently, with no preparation and equitable approach, the agencies — which were primarily responsible to enforce the Master Plan’s provisions and implement them — ensured that old Delhi established by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan turned into a slum. 

The 1962 Master Plan of Delhi had also recommended limited commercial activities in the Walled City and relocation of hazardous trade markets to other locations. 

But after 56 years, these markets continue functioning from the same locations that has deteriorated the situation in Shahjahanabad and Walled City extension areas —Sadar Bazaar, Paharganj, and Karol Bagh. 


Expectations and solutions

AK Jain, former commissioner (planning), DDA said Master Plans will not yield results unless the multiplicity of authorities was done away with and civic bodies made more efficient.

“The municipal corporations had the responsibility of preparing LAPs but they haven’t finalized them yet. They don’t have efficient Town Planning department. Then how can we expect them to do effective planning?” Jain said.