The national capital is taking the vertical route for government housing to free up precious landspace. This could set the trend for the future

Delhi, a typical power city, with a preference for low buildings appears to have grabbed the idea of swank high-rises with both hands. Old and decrepit buildings are making way for new ones. Entertainment and convention centres are being erected across the city. This is a full-fledged remodeling of India’s capital.

This whole process was envisaged during the UPA regime. According to former urban development minister Kamal Nath, areas where high rises are possible must be backed up with infrastructural development. For him there was no option for Delhi to expand horizontally “with Haryana on one side and Uttar Pradesh on the other.”

After he took charge of the ministry, he pushed for high-rise real estate development in areas including outer Delhi. He expedited the process of finalising the land pooling policy to enable development of the national capital. Soon, the Standing Committee on Urban Development recommended vertical development for Delhi and other cities due to scarcity of land. That, as town planners agree, is a forward looking view. This ties in with the steady demand that sprawling bungalows in Lutyens' Delhi for ministers and senior MPs are remnants of a colonial era and have no place in the world’s largest democracy. The suggestion has been that they should be pulled down to make way for high-rise apartment blocks for ministers and MPs.

Verticalisation has given a new look to pockets of the city like Moti Bagh, Naoroji Nagar and Ayurvigyan Nagar. NBCC has been entrusted with a major chunk of redevelopment task which includes razing old government residential colonies. A planned housing like East Kidwai Nagar has 100 acres of land being with accompanying infrastructural facilities. About 10 per cent is given out for office space. Pragati Maidan too is being redeveloped on similar lines.

Says Anoop Mittal, chairman and managing director of NBCC, “Redevelopment will take some time. The real picture of redevelopment can be seen only after three or four years of the project completion, not before. The first project was New Moti Bagh with 1,000 houses. Now people are appreciating it. In East Kidwai Nagar, we have 4,700 houses. When people in Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon can stay in high-rise complexes why not people in Delhi? If you compare any housing with south Delhi, you will see four-storeyed buildings with no parking facilities and lacking basic infrastructure and no green area. Even fire tenders cannot go inside. A planned housing colony like East Kidwai Nagarhas all infrastructure facilities. I think we should go for that kind of development. We require this kind of development in Delhi.”