Sub: DDA clearance of proposal re mixed land use: Objection
Secretary, MoUD, GoI Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi – 110011
Sub: DDA clearance of proposal re mixed land use: Objection
Ref: ‘DDA pulls stops on mixed land use’, Hindustan Times, 29.03.03
The news item under reference says that on 28.03.03 DDA ‘cleared the proposal to allow 'mixed land use' along roads with a minimum width of 13.5 metres in authorised colonies and 9 metres in unauthorised ones. The proposal will be effective after the Union Urban Development Ministry notifies the change in Delhi Master Plan 2001’.
Firstly, I wish to place on record my objection to this approval on grounds of its flawed planning ‘logic’ (reported in the news item) and disregard of due process of law for Plan modification including Public Notice of 15.12.02. These grounds are detailed out at #1 in the annex hereto.
Secondly, I reiterate the broad contention of my objection of 16.12.02 in response to Public Notice of 15.12.02 that this proposal represents a departure from mandate that will lead to further unplanned development, inclusive of profiteering on public land, and consequent problems. This contention, spelled out at length in my objection of 16.12.021, is briefly outlined at #2 in the annex.
Thirdly, in the spirit of the Public Notice process and now also in view of CBI’s preliminary findings on 27.03.03, I seek the following:
- information about the composition of the ‘expert group’ that has recommended this approval
- techno-legal basis of this recommendation in terms of the mandatory planning data leading to it
- report of the Board constituted to scrutinise objections received in response to Public Notice of 15.12.02, including item-wise response to techno-legal points raised in my objection of 16.12.02
- details of when and how MoUD proposes to inform the Courts in related sub-judice matters mentioned in #1(b) about this approval before notifying the Plan modification
- reasons for ‘rushing’ this Plan modification after (former?) DDA Commissioner Planning has stated in the press and on 26.12.02 DDA counsel has stated in High Court that the revised Plan is to be placed before the public any time now.
I might be over-reacting, but it does appear to me that approval to such a proposal a day after CBI has charged with ‘criminal conspiracy’ the combination of top DDA officials that is indispensable to the subversion of the Master Plan to permit profiteering on public land does merit scrutiny. Indeed, DDA’s budget proposals reported today also appear to me to have no basis in mandatory Plan monitoring data, perhaps even in the Plan, which also merits scrutiny as there is no reason for the city to bear the burden of DDA budget deficit for unplanned development.
I would appreciate very much if you would be so kind as to provide me the information requested at the earliest and before the modification is notified. I reiterate also my request for information about how I might seek Master Plan implementation related information under the Freedom of Information Act, 2003, since DDA appears not to have appointed a Public Information Officer under the Act.
Hoping for a response.
Gita Dewan Verma
encl. Annex as above
- Member-Secretary, NCRPB, 1st Floor Zone VI, IHC, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003 (for information wrt to reservations reported in the news item under reference)
- Joint Director AC HQ, CBI, Block-3, CGO Complex, New Delhi - 110003 (for information wrt CBI inquiry ongoing
1. Grounds relating to procedural lapse for objection to approval
(a) Flawed planning ‘logic’. The points that constitute, as per the item under reference, the planning ‘logic’ for the decision are inaccurate. That the ‘Master Plan 2001 has expired’ is inaccurate, as by law the Master Plan cannot expire. That ‘zonal development plans do not cover residential areas’ is inaccurate, as they cover all uses in the zone. That currently ‘mixed land use is not allowed in residential areas except in Walled City and Karol Bagh’ is inaccurate, as regulated mixed land use is allowed in all residential areas, and the conditions reported are part of these general regulations, not special regulations for Walled City and Karol Bagh. That ‘the present mixed land use policy had limited application’ is arguably inaccurate and certainly impossible for DDA to assert in face of non-implementation and absence of mandatory monitoring data needed to distinguish planning failures from implementation failures. That ‘in the new Master Plan the expert group has made recommendations’ has to be inaccurate as no ‘new’ Master Plan is permissible in law, nor has the revised Plan been finalised by due process. That recommendations have been made for ‘rationalisation of mixed land use policy’ may be true but is lawfully impossible as mandatory monitoring data and evaluation studies necessary to suggest rationalization do not exist. That the ‘move will benefit around five lakh property owners who are using their residential premises for commercial purposes’ is very likely inaccurate as mandatory civic survey appears not to have been carried out. More importantly, pursuit of benefit of mis-users is contrary to DDA’s mandate of development according to Plan.
(b) Disregard of due process of law. Comprehensive Master Plan revision is ongoing and there is no cause for piece-meal modifications to Plan norms to be rushed through to pre-empt due process of holistic Plan revision. This modification also amounts to frustrating process of law as related matters are sub-judice. The issue of commercial use of homes is sub-judice in Supreme Court (D Bhowmick & Ors v/s DDA & Ors). The corollary issue of profiteering on planned commercial space is sub-judice in High Court (Master Plan Implementation Support Group & Ors v/s DDA & Ar). The issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies is also sub-judice even as a decision has been taken to regularise commercial use in them. Perhaps most importantly, Public Notice inviting objections to this proposal was issued in newspapers on 15.10.02 and due process on that appears not to have been completed. I had filed an objection on grounds of (1) gross defects in the Notice, (2) conditions for commercial use of residential premises being ‘liberalized’ to unacceptable degree and (3) lack of basis in planning rationale. I have neither been heard, nor have I received a communication to saying that the techno-legal points raised in my objection have no merit. This, then, becomes the second case after the Metro Property Development Public Notice of subversion of Public Notice process to make Plan modifications while the Plan is sub-review and, in this case, the matter is sub-judice. In view, especially, of CBI’s findings this subversion of right to public scrutiny and comment certainly calls for scrutiny.
2. Contention of departure from mandate that will lead to further unplanned development, etc
In part 2 of my objection I have argued that the proposal just approved, in effect, ‘liberalizes’ nature and scale of commercial use permissible on individual residential premises and the extent of mixed use permissible at neighbourhood level while foregoing spatial planning measures for nuisance mitigation and relaxing financial liability of (mis)users. In part 3 I have argued that this is not the type of modification contemplated by the Act as it jeopardises, rather than furthers, Plan goals and hence cannot be considered a bonafide Plan adjustment. This modification will not further the purpose of mixed use regulations, viz, to ensure a balance between performance and nuisance and secure planned integration of uses and, instead, will subvert this purpose by promoting haphazard and problematic mixing by ‘liberalizing’ commercial use. This modification will jeopardise Plan goals relating to residential amenity, as it will abet excessive commercialisation (with attended problems of infrastructure stress, etc) not only at plot level but also, in the absence of commensurate curtailment of provisions for commercial centres, at neighbourhood to community levels in the hierarchy of planned development envisaged in the Plan. This modification will also jeopardise carrying capacity goals at city level as it will distort balanced development as envisaged in the Plan by skewing land use further in favour of commercial use that, unlike the residential use that it will displace, will generate employment and contribute to population growth by in-migration even as growth limitation is by far the most urgent imperative for the city. This modification, while serving no Plan purpose, in fact subverts a unique and progressive Plan provision to sweep implementation failures under the carpet, amounting to a drift not only from mandate but also from potential solutions to serious problems and can only be called regressive.
- 1. Sub: OBJECTIONS / SUGGESTIONS in response to DDA’s Public Notice re modification to Master Plan to permit specified commercial uses in residential areas