Delhi Development Authority was created for development of Delhi according to Plan under Delhi Development Act of 1957, an Act of Parliament. Under s.3(3)(a) of the Act the Lieutenant Governor is (along with the Vice Chairman, Engineer Member, Finance Member, councilors and commissioner to represent MCD, MLAs to represent Delhi government, etc) a member of the Authority and, presumably, not empowered to issue directions to it in that capacity. Union Minister for Urban Development is the head of the nodal Ministry of DDA in Central Government, which can issue directions to it under s.41(1) "for efficient administration of the Act". The Act sets out the process for Plan revision, explicated further in the Master Plan. Since the guidelines do not refer to this process they are obviously not directions "for efficient administration of the Act". The Act in general and due process of Plan revision in particular does not contemplate guidelines from the Ministry to DDA.

Clarification of the constitutional / legal basis for announcement of Master Plan 'guidelines'has been sought through a letter to Urban Development Minister1 on 29.07.03, also sent to Standing Parliamentary Committee, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and the President. Response is awaited.

Due process for Plan making / revision involves four main stages, meant to guarantee accountability, quality, coordination and safeguards and to provide a framework for efficient participation by all to potentially build ownership for Plan implementation. Participation through comment on guidelines is contrary to purpose of each of these stages:

  • Accountability. Planning data is required to be collected / collated, including from civic survey (under s.7 of the Act), implementation monitoring data (as per Monitoring provisions of the Plan, pp 87-92) and inputs from MCD, GoNCTD, etc (by virtue of their representation on the Authority under s.3 of the Act).Participation at this stage is expected by way of planning data, and guidelines with no basis in data about implementation status (especially backlog on Plan entitlements) are contrary to the accountability guarantee provided by due process of Plan modification.
  • Quality. Planning data must be considered by experts, for which DDA can appoint committees under s.5A of the Act and under the Plan is anyway required to have, under Clause 3 of Development Code (p.51), a Technical Committee (with representatives of various state and central agencies in Delhi). Participation at this stage is expected to supplement and not supplant planning expertise, and guidelines that have no rigorous basis in any accepted planning paradigm are contrary to the quality guarantee provided by due process of Plan modification.
  • Coordination. Concerned authorities must be consulted (under s.10(2) and proviso to s.6).Participation at this stage is expected for coordination so that the Plan can become an effective statutory framework for all to contribute to planned city development in an orchestrated way through the Plan period, and guidelines that are almost unmindful of statutory mandates of various authorities are contrary to the coordination guarantee provided by due process of Plan modification.
  • Participation. The draft Master Plan has to be placed before public by due process of Public Notice and finalised only after due consideration of objections and suggestions received. Participation at this stage is expected to provide a final safeguard against even inadvertent infringement of entitlements, which pre-requires information about entitlements and their implementation and cannot possibly be meaningful on basis merely of some guidelines.

Participation in planning is meant for accountability and for ownership, not for the sake of participation and certainly not for advocacy of a particular point of view. Accountability is especially important in case of Delhi Master Plan in view of 40 years of public land acquisition for entitlements guaranteed by it. Any participation process must not infringe on due process of Plan modification that guarantees accountability and safeguards against infringement of entitlements. A suggestion2 made more than a year ago is illustrative. Inviting of public comment on some guidelines is a departure from due process of Plan modification that merits clarification, which has been sought through a letter to DDA Vice Chairman3, sent also to Standing Parliamentary Committee.