Respected Sir,

I am grateful to you for including in your address to the nation references to planning in relation to urban development, to equity in relation to (besides unacceptability of disparities) sustainability and efficiency, and to need for ensuring respect for rule of law.

As a planner, I found in NCMP and in President’s address resonance on development concerns, but missed reference to need to rectify the paradigm shift, or drift, to abandonment of planned development. I am convinced this drift is what lies at the root of, especially, urban problems (mostly attributable to violations and implementation failures vis-à-vis statutory city plans) and unless it is stemmed, problem-solving attempts will remain sub-optimal, durable solutions elusive and ‘development’ greed-driven. I have been sending to authorities notes on various issues about opportunities arising from convergence of NCMP commitments and statutory plan provisions. I am presuming to enclose for your perusal a summary of these and, in view of today’s reports of your intervention, the full note on schools.

I admit I am clutching for straws. The planning profession is falling apart amidst growing contempt of principled planning. Scams in planning authorities and institutions and ‘takeover’ of planning by NGOs, MNCs, etc, are symptoms of rot that has been infused into the system at professional levels. I quit mainstream when I began to see these symptoms and have found ways to work with responsibility towards profession and society. You have said you entered public life because democracy needs professionals to become more engaged and active in politics. I believe democracy needs space for competent professionals to engage with politics without having to join it, which requires politics to meet us half way. I have been trying to engage for some years now and I think politics shuns principled planners. Your address inspires hope that this might change and for that I am grateful to you.

With warm greetings,

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner.

Encl. Summary of notes on NCMP opportunities and imperatives

  1. Delhi Master Plan (DMP) revision | 30.05.2004 | 3p: There is complete convergence between NCMP commitments and DMP provisions in various sectors and DMP goal of conflict-free equitable sustainable development finds resonance in NCMP specific promises and all NCMP governance principles are DMP objectives. Other reasons also make DMP a worthy case for evolving NCMP strategies. DMP (approved by Parliament) enjoys national concurrence and concern (views on DDA – whose mandate relates only to DMP – were invited by Parliamentary Standing Committee for Urban Development in 2003). Failure to rectify neglect (for reasons exposed in the DDA scam of 2003) of DMP responsibilities towards the poor / common man (representations about which are before Parliamentary Standing Committee) would be contrary to UPA pledge of corruption-free accountable government. Urban Development Minister has announced top-priority for DMP 2021. Logical next-step imperatives are to restore lawful DMP processes, to reverse recent extra-Constitutional initiatives and to install safeguards to provide safe passage for lawful DMP revision. (This note was sent to Secretary MoUD. The imperatives outlined find resonance also in DMP based Supreme Court judgment for industries and in the emphasis on rule of law in President’s address to Parliament on 07.06.04 and PM’s address to the nation on 24.06.04)
  2. Supreme Court judgment for industries in Delhi | 06.06.2004 | 4p + 2p list of previous letters: The matter of Delhi’s industries is best viewed as telling example of reckless economic policy being pushed in violation of considered planning law. Industries in Delhi are in places not meant for them because DMP space for accommodating and enhancing city productivity is being diverted to extraneous consumption uses. The Supreme Court judgment for industries upholds DMP provisions and processes over one lakhs units, coming down heavily on violations and ploys like ‘regularization’ and ‘guidelines’. The reason it does not order about 2000 Ha DMP space meant for industries to be developed / restored can only be that facts of this were not before it, despite representations to authorities. The same DMP logic leading to directions for closure of units in space not meant for them applies also to any other use of DMP space meant for them. It is thus an imperative of the judgment, besides DMP, that the 18 month deadline for closure of non-conforming units be seen as time frame for shifting them to space that is rightfully theirs to use. This is also an imperative of NCMP commitments for industries and employment, implementation of which is predicated upon units surviving closure orders. (This note was sent to court-appointed Monitoring Committee members (GNCT CS, DDA VC, Police and MCD Commissioners), MoUD Secretary, DDA Comm(Plg) and GNCT Industries and UD ministers. As 6-week deadline for incentives passed, a letter was sent on 24.06.04 to request urgent consideration of suggestions, also since special budget provision might be necessary)
  3. Common School System (CSS) | 16.06.2004 | 3p + 2p summary of engagements since 2000: DMP provides legal strength to the consensus on CSS by stipulating numbers / types of schools with population served, maximum distance, standards for enrolment, buildings, playgrounds, parking, etc, to ensure adequate schools for all and mainly local population, an objective supported by lease conditions requiring schools to not refuse local students and, in line with DMP 25% housing for the poor, 25% free seats. Serial violation (mis-allotment / misuse of sites leading to non-local enrolment leading to competitive fees leading to exclusion of local, especially poor, children leading to stressed schools for the excluded) make for persisting duality. Enforcement of holistic DMP CSS is before Delhi High Court in PIL, based on engagements since 2000, by citizens of all classes. Despite this, High Court order for free seats is being ‘implemented’ in illusory ways through GNCT ‘order’ in line with NDA’s draft Bill provisions that downsize DMP rights, rather than as a starting point for progressive implementation of DMP CSS (its statutory context), which is an imperative also of NCMP that, by committing resources while not mentioning a central Bill for universalizing education, leaves it to states to evolve legal frameworks to optimally absorb resources in pursuit of historical CSS commitment. (This note was sent to respondents in the PIL seeking enforcement of DMP CSS, viz, DDA, MoUD, GNCT, MCD, Traffic Police, and to others in continuation of letters, representations, etc, about DMP CSS and / or NDA education Bill and/or different perspective of free seats. On 23.06.04 a letter was sent to Secretary MoHRD about a news report suggesting UPA was pursuing NDA’s draft education Bill and that Delhi government was seeking education resources for awareness building, etc, to request urgent consideration of suggestions in view of possible implications for the budget, with copy to all to whom the note had been already sent).
  4. DMP provisions for informal sector trade | 22.06.2004 | 3p + 4p list of engagements since 2001: DMP incorporated in 1990 pioneering provisions for informal sector trade, acknowledging its contribution to livelihood, society and economy as well as problems of exploitation and limitations of licensing. These provisions, by way of detailed norms for planned space in line with natural propensity of informal sector to locate itself and designed to obviate nuisance on account of it (and, thereby, the basis of ‘harassment’). In 2001, by when all DMP targets had to be met, hawkers, small traders and customers began seeking enforcement of DMP solutions. Then, at instance of two women’s NGOs, PMO and MoUD launched model / national hawker ‘policy’ initiatives in disregard of DMP provisions that have, by virtue of being approved by Parliament, status of national guideline. These ‘policies’, in effect, spare DMP informal sector space by advocating (NGO-mediated) loans, organization, regulation, etc, for hawkers. Despite repeated assurances, even to Court, the citizens’ demand for lawful DMP solutions remains unmet. Despite sustained objections, the unlawful ‘policies’ have spawned illegal initiatives, wasteful investments and appalling subversion of democratic systems. NCMP, by proposing a Commission to look into problems (afresh) effectively rejects the NDA ‘policies’ and citizens demanded in its context enforcement of DM solutions and reversal of ‘policies’ for so-called hawker welfare and ‘policies’ to allow misuse of their DMP space, etc. Both NGOs came together / arranged a meeting on 16.06.04 to exhort hawkers in Delhi to demand implementation of ‘policy’. Hawkers invited were more inclined to pursue the lawful DMP demand consistent also with NCMP. (This Note was sent in the context of the ‘meeting’ of 16.06.04 to DDA Commissioner (Planning), with copy to nearly two dozen authorities previously engaged, to reiterate demands made and ask for ‘policy’ / DMP revision deliberations on informal sector to be opened to public / professional scrutiny and for a view to be taken before any wasteful budget provisions are inadvertently made)


  • Besides in above-mentioned notes, NCMP-DMP opportunities and imperatives have been illustrated in respect of housing, slums, ridge, riverbed, rural area / urban agriculture, urban renewal, infrastructure in letters to authorities. All these and subsequent NCMP-DMP engagements are being posted on a NCMP-DMP minder on the web.
  • All these recent notes / letters are based on substantive engagements since 1999-2000, indifference to which remains unchanged even a month after the adoption of NCMP, the complete convergence between NCMP commitments and DMP provisions notwithstanding.