Sub: Requests apropos Master Plan Ôguidelines' on which comments have been invited
Vice Chairman, DDA
Sub: Requests apropos Master Plan ‘guidelines’ on which comments have been invited
Firstly, this is to request you to make public the status of Delhi Master Plan revision expected of DDA by due process of law, inclusive of basis in planning data (civic surveys under s.10 of the Act and implementation monitoring under Master Plan provisions for Plan review), duly considered by sectoral experts and authorities for synthesis into holistically considered scenarios for a draft for public comment. I make this request in view of confusion created by ‘guidelines’ announced on 28.07.03 even as their announcement frustrates due process of Plan revision as well as public notice, judicial and Parliamentary processes currently underway. A letter to the Minister in this regard is at Encl.1.
Secondly, this is to ask why DDA has invited comments on these ‘guidelines’. Since the ‘guidelines’ are not of the type MoUD issues for minding DDA’s statutory mandate as its nodal ministry, there is no basis to treat them differently from other suggestions. And inviting comment, except on the draft through due process of Public Notice, is extra-legal and calls for transparency about purpose and mechanism. Also, comments were similarly invited on ‘recommendations’ in 1999 and a cursory perusal reveals that 11 of the 17 ‘guidelines’ of 2003 reiterate ‘recommendations’ of 1999 while 4 are perfunctory and 2 arguably premature (Encl.2). I am sure you will appreciate this places a question mark on four years of work on the Plan revision and calls for clarification of why these ‘guidelines’ are receiving special attention by DDA and being strongly advocated in the media by its Chairman.
Thirdly, this is to request that analysis of surveys and monitoring be made public if DDA wishes to invite comment prior to Public Notice stage as otherwise meaningful suggestions are not possible, as obvious from ones made in the ‘guidelines’. 4 of the ‘guidelines’ (about NCR, unauthorized colonies, Plan implementation, and built/natural heritage) merely restate existing Plan provisions and 2 do so in ‘liberalized’ versions (old city redevelopment instead of management and flexible land use instead of regulated mixed use for flexibility), while suggesting these are new ideas and so skirting accountability on implementation failures. The ‘guideline’ on slums and the parts of the ‘guideline’ on flexible land use relating to industries, likewise, skirt accountability on 5000 hectares meant for low-income housing and industries. The ‘guidelines’ about greater FAR along metro corridor, vertical construction, private developers and change in land policy are completely contrary to the overall structure of the Plan and since radical modifications are not permissible under the Act they can only be commented upon with reference to the holistically considered basis for proposing them. It must be emphasized that due process of Plan modification guarantees citizens accountability on Plan implementation and safeguard against radical changes amounting to abandonment of the Plan to sweep implementation failures under the carpet. In view, especially, of the obfuscation of planning failures and implementation failures in the ‘guidelines’ as well as by several ‘experts’ being quoted by media, the publicity being given to the ‘guidelines’ needs to be matched with awareness about the Plan and its implementation so that the discourse is sensibly informed in widest public interest. I have been requesting a more structured and accountability-ensuring approach to public participation since 1999 (see Encl.3) and would deeply appreciate a response at least now.
Fourthly, this is to seek assurance that comments sought will be considered. I am constrained to ask this because over the last four years techno-legal objections and suggestions made in conformity with the premises of the Plan and the process of its modification through letters, reports, responses to Public Notices, court cases, etc, on nearly all the matters covered by these ‘guidelines’ and others as well have not been considered. If comments and suggestions are to be considered only if they ‘endorse’ decisions already taken in 1999 and periodically repeated at press conferences, then this should be specified. If comments on these ‘guidelines’ are genuinely sought to refine the Plan revision in public interest, then assurance of this requires DDA to first respond to techno-legal objections already raised (illustrated in Encl.4) on matters covered by the ‘guidelines’.
Lastly, I request caution (since how seriously DDA is seen taking suggestions about land use affects real estate trends and investments once made can create pressures on the Plan revision process) and conscience effort to ensure that ad-hoc extra-legal initiatives for public participation do not undermine the public notice process (which remains the only legal and inclusive mechanism for citizens’ participation in planned development).
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner
Encl.2. ‘GUIDELINES’ OF 2003 AND ‘RECOMMENDATIONS’ OF 1999: CURSORY COMPARISON1
Encl.3. PREVIOUS REQUESTS APROPOS APPROACH TO PUBLIC PARTICIPATION CONSISTENT WITH QUALITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ENTITLEMENTS GUARANTEED BY DUE PROCESS OF PLAN REVISION AS SET OUT IN THE PLAN AND ACT.2
Encl.4. COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS MADE / CLARIFICATIONS SOUGHT ALREADY IN MATTERS COVERED, ITEM-WISE, BY THE ‘GUIDELINES’3
ANNEX-1. An open-letter to all engaged / interested in the ongoing review of Delhi’s Master Plan4
ANNEX-2. Ref: Letter No.F11(18)96/Mont/55 dt. 05.02.03 to me from DDA Monitoring Wing5
- 1. 'Guidelines’ of 2003 and ‘Recommendations’ of 1999: a Cursory Comparison
- 2. Previous requests apropos approach to public participation consistent with quality and accountability entitlements guaranteed by due process of plan revision as set out in the plan and act
In October 1999 newspapers reported that at the seminar that made recommendations for new Plan LG had ‘conceded the concept of NCR had failed’ and ‘instead’ mooted a proposal for three new modern cities as counter-magnets.
- 3. Comments and suggestions made; clarifications sought already in matters covered, item-wise, by the ‘Guidelines’
- 4. A suggestion for a framework for citizens’ participation in the ongoing Master Plan review
An open-letter to all engaged / interested in the ongoing review of Delhi’s Master Plan
- 5. Ref: Letter No.F11(18)96/Mont/55 dt. 05.02.03 to me from DDA Monitoring Wing