Response to Public Notice
24th September, 2002
DDA, Vikas Sadan ‘B’ Block
INA New Delhi- 110023
Sub: OBJECTION ON BEHALF OF RESIDENTS OF RANGPURI PAHARI in response to DDA’s Public Notice (no number, no date) in Sunday Hindustan Times, September 15, 2002
1. On behalf of residents of Rangpuri Pahari, I place on record our objection to DDA’s scheme for which the Public Notice under reference has been issued now (presumably as a result of the proceedings in the PIL filed in Delhi High Court by Delhi Science Forum in August 2002), though construction has been going on since March 2002 and the scheme was displayed here in September 2001. We have already been objecting to the scheme long before it started through several letters to DDA Vice-Chairman on the following grounds:
(a) We have statutory entitlements under the Master Plan’s explicit provisions for low-income housing. These have not been implemented for our benefit since 1962, although the oldest settlements of Rangpuri Pahari were in existence when the Master Plan was originally promulgated and although low-income housing was a key purpose of large-scale public acquisition through which so much land was placed in DDA’s custody. Even when Vasant Kunj came up DDA did not bother to integrate existing settlements into the new development although the Master Plan required it to do so and although the revised Master Plan even had explicit norms spelling out percentage share of low-income housing. We fail to see how housing for anyone else merits greater priority in use of land here through no less than a Master Plan amendment than housing us, which is amongst DDA’s longest-standing Master Plan implementation backlog tasks in the area.
(b) DDA’s scheme is in violation of Master Plan land use not only in terms of land use of the site (proposed to be ‘corrected’ through this public notice, etc) but also of Master Plan norms for residential land use. The Master Plan explicitly states that in a residential development for 1 lakh population (such as Vasant Kunj) 25 per cent of the units are to be by way of sites-and-services plots and another 20 percent by way of small units for low-income and city service personnel families. These provisions have not been implemented in Vasant Kunj. On the contrary, sites meant for LIG/Janta housing are being misused for upper income housing, etc. Even LIG flats built recently in D6 as part of a ‘pilot project’ are being disposed off in DDA’s latest HIG scheme. There is already up-market housing in the area far in excess of Master Plan norms and this has stressed infrastructure, especially water. We fail to understand how more HIG housing is justifiable as ‘planned development’, let alone worthy of a Master Plan amendment, when housing shortage as per Master Plan norms is clearly only by way of low-income housing here.
(c) DDA’s scheme will entail at least a ten per cent increase over the population of Vasant Kunj. So far only a fourth of the designed water requirement of Vasant Kunj is met through river water supply. The balance is sourced from our ground water, which has depleted severely, forcing CGWA to notify this as a critical area. Despite CGWA’s reservations, DDA is going ahead with this scheme. In its counter-affidavit filed in reply to the PIL filed by Delhi Science Forum (as also in the advertisement for its lately advertised HIG scheme), DDA is relying on SoniaVihar and rainwater to argue that its profitable schemes will not use local ground water. Its claims are, however, not supported by any figures in MGD and belied by illegal bore-wells already dug.
DDA’s scheme clearly jeopardises our right to water as it involves considerable population addition in the area and is, in fact, not a Master Plan amendment that DDA can make under its Act, even as it has designed and started the scheme without approval of Central Government.
(d) DDA’s scheme is violative not only of statutory procedure (as upheld by the Court) but also of the planning process envisaged in Delhi Development Act and Master Plan. The Act contemplates civic surveys, etc, for preparation of Master Plan and Zonal Plans. Layout plans, internally approved by DDA, are only operational details of these statutory Plans. The Master Plan envisages feedback from systematic monitoring of implementation, etc, as the basis for plan review/amendment. DDA does not appear to have carried out mandatory monitoring. And not only is its scheme not embedded in any ‘Plan’ as contemplated in the Act (since the Master Plan places the site beyond urbanisable limits and J-zone plan has not been prepared) it is also ‘premature’ as the Master Plan is sub-review and the J-zone plan is under preparation. It is our contention that DDA’s scheme cannot be considered ‘planned’ under the planning process envisaged in Delhi Development Act and Master Plan and that any civic survey (mandatory under the Act) and any systematic monitoring (mandatory under the Master Plan) will not endorse it.
(e) For two years we have been pointing out to DDA ground realities of its development in the area, in which housing, education and livelihood benefits to which we are entitled under the Master Plan have not been implemented. Besides our letters, detailed professional reports commissioned by us on these gaps in Plan implementation have been disregarded, as have questions about its ‘scheme’. That DDA diregarded our (‘pro-poor’) Plan entitlements in ‘developing’ Vasant Kunj, ignored our ‘requests’ for Plan implementation, started an up-market scheme that has no basis in the Plan and threatens the existence of our pre-Plan settlements and MCD school, refused to answer questions about this scheme, all point to what can only be called contempt of mandate and citizens, not befitting a public authority in a democratic welfare state and calling for objection from responsible citizens on that ground alone.
2. We also seek assurance that the objections sought through this public notice will receive attention. This is in view of the following:
(a) We have been objecting to DDA’s scheme, but DDA has not responded to our numerous letters, reports, prolonged demonstration, etc. Letters of objection summarizing previous efforts sent from different settlements of Rangpuri Pahari in April 2002, after construction started on DDA’s scheme, are enclosed.
(b) These letters followed letters of 18.03.02, 01.04.02 and 11.04.02 to DDA from MPISG asking that work on the site be held in abeyance till DDA has provided clarification of techno-legal basis of the scheme sought by several of MPISG’s constituent groups. After Delhi Science Forum filed the PIL that has obviously precipitated this public notice (and in which MPISG’s letters are referred to and annexed) that DDA wrote to MPISG on 21.08.02 to say it may ‘discuss the matter’ with an additional commissioner with prior appointment. However, in its counter-affidavit filed on 09.09.02 in the said PIL, DDA has said more than once that it is unaware of the existence of MPISG.
(c) After it was established in mid-June that the scheme did not have mandatory land use change permission, our consultant and MPISG planner wrote on 18.06.02, 26.06.02, 01.07.02 and 08.07.02 to the Ministry of Urban Development, mentioning the objections of local citizens’ groups and asking for the scheme to be stopped. (These letters are also referred to and annexed in Delhi Science Forum’s PIL). In the letters of 18.06.02 and 26.06.02 she specifically asked that DDA be asked or she be allowed to forward objections already made. The Ministry did not respond to these letters, nor did it file a reply in the PIL in which it, too, was respondent.
(d) In two petitions filed in Delhi High Court in another matter by a local citizens’ group that is a constituent of MPISG, the court granted the petitioners liberty to approach the respondent (DDA) for clarifications about entitlements. The registrar forwarded a copy of this order dated 21.08.02 to DDA for immediate compliance and the petitioners also made their representation. DDA has not responded to the question of entitlements even upon the court’s intervention.
(e) In the counter-affidavit filed by DDA in the matter of the site covered by the public notice under reference, DDA has ‘justified’ its illegal construction on grounds of its enthusiasm to deal with ‘housing shortage’ and protect the site from expansion of nearby ‘encroachments’. We can find no basis in the Master Plan for DDA’s view of ‘housing shortage’ and ‘encroachment’. On the contrary, we believe that as per the Master Plan and Delhi Development Act it is us who is ‘housing shortage’ and DDA’s scheme that is ‘encroachment’. But DDA seems to enjoy unfettered powers to willfully define anything it chooses to do on public land as ‘planned development’ without regard either to the Master Plan or to citizens’ entitlements and, naturally, to our objections.
(f) Even after the court has directed on 16.09.02 complete stoppage of work, rejecting DDA’s contentions and holding that its scheme under construction for six months is in violation of the Delhi Development Act, work on the site has not entirely stopped. The ‘encroachment’ by DDA’s ‘reputed’ contractors, which has entailed massive earthwork, clearing of vegetation and felling of trees, digging of illegal bore-wells and construction of their site offices, etc, remains untouched, perhaps in readiness for resumption of work after the 30-day notice period of this public-notice is over.
We would appreciate, in view of the above, at least an acknowledgement of our objection along with timely information on any technical ‘shortcomings’ in it.
(President, Samudayik Vikas Samiti, Rangpuri Pahari Malakpur Kohi and
Convenor, Master Plan Implementation Support Group - Rangpuri Pahari Unit)
Encl. (13 pages)
Letters summarising previous correspondence, etc, objecting to DDA’s scheme on grounds of infringement of housing entitlements under the Master Plan:
- Samudayik Vikas Samiti, Malakpur Kohi Rangpuri Pahari, dated.14.04.02 (5p)
- Rangpuri Pahari Nala, Rangpuri Pahari, dated 18.04.02 (1p)
- Shankar Camp Vikas Samiti, Shankar Camp Rangpuri Pahari, dated 20.04.02 (1p)
- Dalit Mazdur Vikas Sabha, Rajhans Colony Rangpuri Pahari, dated 23.04.02 (1p)
Letter summarising previous efforts, etc, objecting to DDA’s scheme on grounds of threat to MCD school / education entitlements under the Master Plan
- Rangpuri Pahari Vidyarthi Evam Abhibhavak Manch, dated 10.04.02 (3p)
Others letters sent / copied to DDA Vice Chairman about the scheme / site :
- Samudayik Vikas Samiti, Police complaint against felling of trees on site, 21.05.02 (1p)
- Letter of Ward Councilor in support of MPISG request for holding scheme in abeyance pending clarification of its techno-legal basis, dated 18.04.02 (1p)
- MPISG letters of March-April 2002 to DDA VC are in Delhi Science Forum Petition
- MPISG-Planner’s letters of June-July 2002 to Jt.Secy,MoUD are also in the Petition
- MPISG-Planner’s lreport on Master Plan provisions for low-income housing and Vasant Kunj’s Slums as well as a detailed note in support of a request for DDA to ‘pilot’ Master Plan implementation in its effort in the court-appointed coordination committee, both sent to DDA in July 2001 are included in CWP 5007/2002 and 5009/2002 in which DDA’s immediate compliance was directed by the court on 21.08.02 on the matter of clarification of entitlements.