Response to Public Notice
24th September, 2002
DDA, Vikas Sadan ‘B’ Block
INA New Delhi- 110023
Sub: OBJECTION FROM VASANT KUNJ FLAT RESIDENTS ASSOCIATED WITH M.P.I.S.G. in response to DDA’s Public Notice (no number, no date) in Sunday Hindustan Times, September 15, 2002
On behalf of flat residents associated with MPISG, I place on record our objection to DDA’s scheme for which the Public Notice under reference has been issued. The scheme in question was publicly displayed here in Septemebr 2001 and has been under construction since March 2002. DDA has not bothered to respond to numerous letters written by various citizens’ groups separately and collectively to seek clarifications about or object to the scheme. We presume, therefore, that this public notice has been precipitated by the proceedings in the PIL filed in Delhi High Court by Delhi Science Forum in August 2002 in which the court has held the scheme to be in violation of Delhi Development Act and directed stoppage of construction. We sincerely hope that the public notice has not been issued merely as a ‘formality’ and that objections received will be considered with at least as much concern about planned development as demonstrated by those making them.
Our objections to the scheme for HIG flats, etc, which are partly coterminous with those raised by some of our RWAs and their Federation, are located entirely within the ambit of the Master Plan and Delhi Development Act and are as follows:
- There is a serious ground-water crisis in the area, something that has been anticipated in the Master Plan since 1962 and duly noted by CGWA in 1998. While much hope is pinned on Sonia Vihar and rainwater harvesting we have serious reservations about these claims. That DJB and DDA have not countered the report sent by our Planner in May, complete with estimates in MGD that paint a doomsday scenario, makes us inclined to believe the worst. The inability of DDA and DJB to supply even the designed requirement of Vasant Kunj, the continuing digging of illegal bore-wells by both DJB and DDA, and the letters of CGWA to DDA included in the PIL mentioned only confirm our fears. We find it very surprising that neither DDA nor DJB are able to give us a clear picture in MGD even though DJB is talking of schemes and DDA is preparing the zonal plan for J-zone. We object to this scheme on grounds of it representing a departure from the Master Plan involving population addition without convincing proof, based on facts and figures, of infrastructure (water) capacity being augmentable. This, we contend, makes the scheme violative also of the survey / monitoring based planning process envisaged in the Plan and its enabling Act. These violations affect us directly as they place our right to water at risk.
- As per Master Plan norms for residential land use, there is already an excess of up-market housing in Vasant Kunj and a shortage only of low-income housing. Since infrastructure provision is based on norms, development of more HIG housing here will stress infrastructure. It will also use up land meant for low-income housing, leaving our maids, drivers, etc to live in slums. Both outcomes affect flat residents and amount to shortchanging us on promised benefits of planned development. We object to this scheme on grounds of it representing a violation of Master Plan norms for residential land use and the consequence of the violation affecting us.
- The manner in which DDA started this scheme in violation of the Master Plan and Delhi Development Act without bothering to respond to our repeated requests for clarifications about its techno-legal basis leaves us extremely alarmed. Together with the high-handed manner in which DDA has dealt with our own small efforts at Master Plan implementation, this makes a very worrying picture. It does appear that DDA is not at all inclined to take the Master Plan seriously. Perhaps that explains why it denied being aware of MPISG’s existence in its counter-affidavit in the PIL and also why it is not interested in citizens’ groups engaging exclusively on Master Plan Implementation, not even when it is revising the Master Plan and preparing the zonal plan for the area. DDA’s scheme for which this public notice is issued, and the way DDA has gone about it so far, symbolises to us its utter indifference to the Master Plan and to citizens’ entitlements thereunder and concerns thereabout. We object to the scheme on grounds of it symbolising what can only be called ‘contemptuous’ attitude on the part of a public authority in respect of its statutory mandate as well as of the public. If DDA is allowed to ‘get away’ with this willful scheme that it willfully set about, a precedent that, in our opinion, no self-respecting democratic state can afford shall be set.
I would like to mention that the MPISG letters sent to DDA to ask that construction on its scheme be held in abeyance till reservations expressed by citizens’ groups about its techno-legal basis are clarified went under my signatures. DDA acknowledged these letters in its letter of 21.08.02 (though it denied awareness of MPISG in its counter-affidavit later). In general, our Federation has been writing to DDA to seek stoppage of construction of flats in view of water shortage and DDA has acknowledged its letters. On housing norms, at the instance of MPISG flats’ unit, our Federation wrote to DDA in a recent matter in support of slum residents’ request that instead of being resettled in violation of the Plan they be settled in accordance with it. This letter is included in the court case subsequently filed by the slum residents. Unfortunately, many RWAs are also pursuing unplanned development, often in Bhagidari which, despite DDA’s participation in it, continues to make no reference to the Master Plan even though we, at least, have requested this. Indeed, DDA seems to be keeping the excellent provisions of the Plan a secret. In a recent PIL filed by one of our RWAs against construction of flats on a park, for instance, DDA ‘won’ on grounds of its powers to modify layout plans, even as Master Plan norms do not permit it to build more flats here, a fact it did not bother to bring up in court.
I mention all this only to illustrate that MPISG has been seriously endeavouring to support Master Plan implementation, with, unfortunately, no support from DDA. We sincerely hope our objections to DDA’s scheme in violation of the Plan will be considered with seriousness because they are, in effect, objections against DDA’s drift from its mandate. I would be grateful for an acknowledment of this letter and timely information about any technical shortcomings therein. Thanking you,
(Formerly President, RWA of B-9(Extn) Vasant Kunj and Convenor MPISG – Flats’ unit)