Response to Public Notice

Principal Commissioner-cum-Secretary,

DDA, ‘B’ Block, Vikas Sadan, New Delhi-110023

Sub: Public Notice No. F.3(60)2005-MP dated 31.08.2005 published in Hindustan Times


Vide the above, it is proposed “to change the land use of an area measuring about 3.60 hectare …from 'Recreational (District Park) to Residential”. I wish to place on record the following objections to this proposal:

1. Uncompensated land use change from Recreational is not permissible:

Delhi Master Plan (MPD-2001) states:

  • “Further conversion of recreational areas to other uses should be permitted only under extraordinary circumstances. Areas in lieu of such conversion may be provided elsewhere in order to maintain the overall average for the city”. (Environment - Lung Spaces, p.37)

F-Zone Plan reiterates:

  • “…planned green areas need be conserved…” and “…major green spaces are complemented and supplemented by a system of neighbourhood open spaces, parks and playgrounds in the residential area. This would provide linkages for development of a continuous system of green areas. This has been indicated in the Zonal Plan, which should be detailed out at the stage of preparation of detailed schemes”. (para 10.3. System of Green Areas and Conservation Proposals)

The Zone is notified by CGWA (ie, there is ban on boring for construction) and the Sub-Zone (F-8) is Okhla Industrial Area (in which green areas serve as buffers). As such, maintaining of planned green areas is warranted at Zonal / sub-Zonal level. Compensatory land use change to Recreational is not indicated in the Public Notice or vide any accompanying Public Notice or in draft DMP-2021 land use plan. In absence of the same, it is not open to DDA or MoUD to propose this Plan modification.

2. The scheme does not even provide the “extraordinary circumstance” justification

The plan available for inspection at Vikas Minar, reveals that the scheme is for “in-situ slum rehabilitation” at a site some distance to south of village Tehkhand (between ESI and Mehrauli-Badarpur road) and indicates:

  • the 3.62 hectare “proposed site” as “Site 2” and “additional land for insitu housing”
  • “residential plot on the west” as “Site 1” of 30.6 acres “for which Change of Land use from district park to residential done”
  • “swapping of district park site with hot mix site and change of land use accordingly” for “Site 3”, NW of “Site” 1 and marked “CC Plant”.

Details of the piece-meal land use change are not known. From news reports it seems the scheme is for 3 – 4000 slum flats in half the site and builder housing / commercial in the rest. This scheme for less than 1% of the slum population is being touted as “pilot project” even as this “Mumbai Model” is proven failure with most sites unsuitable, no infrastructure/market capacity for the attached non-slum component, and the excessive- density-slum-housing itself slum-like. Far from being valid “extraordinary circumstance”, the scheme for “in-situ slum rehabilitation” on District Park in CGWA notified F-Zone is:

  • (a) patently illegal and also violative of Article 14 vis-a-vis slum clearance from parks, prohibition of redevelopment of industries in Recreational use zone, etc
  • (b) tantamount to misleading / contempt of court since it is not mentioned in DDA affidavit on proposed EWS/LIG schemes in F-Zone filed in WP 5007 & 5009/2002 (petitioners in which were evicted from District Park in Vasant Kunj in pendency of the petitions for relocation to nearest MPD EWS site that is occupied by Sahara Restaurant, etc) pursuant to order on affidavit sworn by then DDA VC Anil Baijal
  • (c) supports diversion of Residential land meant for EWS, as Delhi’s slum problem is nothing but backlog on DMP targets for EWS plots (as duly noted also in reports of Planning Commission (2002) and Lok Sabha Standing Committee (2005)).

3. Exceptionable “extraordinary circumstances” surround this scheme

MPD-2001, notified in 1990, set out a statutory solution to the slum problem through equitable integrated EWS housing for 49000 existing and 400000 anticipated families in 1981-2001. This was in departure from problem-sustaining paradigms of sub-standard segregated “resettlement” or “in-situ improvement”, being advocated via “recognised” (such as by dubious Aga Khan Awards or in globalising “housing rights” circles) ones, and was thwarted by illegal policy, launched the same year at instance of then PM VP Singh, to make all except existing slum families “ineligible” for anything. Census 2001 found the backlog on MPD-2001 targets for EWS plots in slums and, alongside MPD revision, began efforts to legislate the problem in MPD-2021 through advocacy by “recognised” ones against MPD and for, on one hand, DfID sponsored draft slum policy and ActionAid led initiatives to reduce shelter to night-shelter / pay-and-use plots and, on the other, the DUEIIP alternative and legitimizing of unequal development via so-called byelaw reform (that has lately culminated in incredible USAID-sponsored legislative amendments to MCD Act in name of 74th CA). In this unfolding scenario, the “Mumbai Model” proposal for Delhi originated in a meeting in October 2002 between UDM Ananth Kumar and VP Singh and certain NGOs. Tender inviting NGO-builders for it was published on 10/12/02, ie, after and in defiance of order of 29/11/02 that quashed the illegal slum policy (in same matters whose order of 03/03/03 was used to clear a portion of Pushta after a high-level meeting in 2004). In July 2003, three pilot projects for “Mumbai Model” in Delhi, including the instant one, were announced (and assurance on behalf of then DDA VC Anil Baijal given at NGO consultation graced by CM among others). In January 2004 in Mumbai PM announced a grant for NGO-ised “Mumbai Model” (also visited by Prince Charles) and NGOs celebrated at World Social Forum an event to disparage Indian Courts and planning law and professions. In February 2005 area MP and DDA Advisory Council member Sajjan Kumar told a press conference that at a high-level meeting – following his protest against DDA commercial scheme on 32 acres (“Site 1”) and demand (in view of some deposit of 1997 under the quashed slum policy) for flats for residents of three slums in Kalkaji Extn (located on/around in-situ redevelopment site in F-Zone Plan) – MoUD Secretary Anil Baijal directed DDA VC Madhukar Gupta to stop the commercial scheme and DDA-MCD to prepare a scheme for flats (on District Park). In April 2005 DDA pasted unusual Public Notice for survey in the three clusters. In May 2005 VP Singh’s men, including former Slum Wing chief, got residents to write letters to VP Singh to ask for relocation to ESI (Tehkhand) site and a news report quoted Madhukar Gupta about a 16 Ha scheme. In June GNCTD declared intent to independently build/promote flats in name of slums. In July DDA cleared a proposal for private participation in housing and a newspaper quoted Delhi Urban Minister AK Walia about a massive scheme at Savda Ghevra (for which land acquisition was effected in 2003 in defiance of order of 29/11/02). In August the instant Public Notice was issued, on eve of “poverty-concert” by NGOs, inaugurated by VP Singh. On 07/09/05 Supreme Court heard the Yamuna case and a newspaper reported:

  • “The synchronisation of the available land for relocation of slum dwellers and the clean-up of river Yamuna on the British model for the river Thames has necessitated the government to come up with a novel approach towards slum relocation …Instead of the horizontal method of slum relocation, a new approach is required to be followed to take into account the limited land-ration in the city, stated the affidavit filed in the top court on Wednesday by Anil Baijal… work has already started under the revised action plan. Delhi Development Authority has initiated a pilot project at Tehkhan, which would accommodate nearly 3,200 tenements for relocation of eligible slum families’ the implementation of which will commence by December and completed by March 2008, stated the affidavit… Taking a cue from the DDA model, the MCD is in the process of chalking out a similar plan of construction of multi-storeyed tenements at Savda Ghera (250 acres) which would commence by April 2006…”

On affidavit in the Apex Court, in name of Thames / Yamuna in likeness of Thames, Anil Baijal has sworn imminent start of “Mumbai Model” pilot-project at Tehkhand – in pendency of the instant Public Notice for impermissible land use change for it and contrary to affidavits sworn by / in coordination with him in WP 5007 & 5009/2002. (Ironically, the Bench comprising Justice YK Sabharwal and Justice BN Aggrawal reportedly warned of “Mumbai-style collapse” while directing DDA and MCD to draw up an action plan apropos slums in 4 weeks).

4. Exceptionable “extraordinary circumstances” surround this Public Notice.

Public Notice was published on 08/04/05 for draft DMP-2021 that proposes, inter alia, in-situ flats for slums as an option, slum clearance in the annexure to chapter on environment containing recommendations of court-appointed Anil Baijal committee, etc. On 13/04/05 Notice was issued in WP 6500/2005 (in matter of Public Notice process). On 31/05/05 Lok Sabha Standing Committee asked DDA to submit a report about the deposition of Mrs Prabha Chand and Mrs Minoo Varma in context of their memoranda protesting also Mumbai-Model pilot-project. Issues of indifference to s.11A and s.41(3) safeguards and patent abuse of judicial process to secure ex-parte orders for wilful evictions for wilful schemes while failing to comply with orders in petitions for MPD solutions were also placed before the Committee. In May 2005 letters protesting Tehkhand scheme / survey in Kalkaji Extn in pendency of DMP-2021 Public Notice and WP 5007 & 5009/2002, etc, were written and later enclosed with the comment on MPD-2021 Housing chapter filed by Master Plan Implementation Support Group (MPISG) in response to Public Notice. The suggestion for the Board that I filed mentioned start of final hearings in WP 5007 & 5009/2002 on 05/07/05 (when affidavit sworn by Anil Baijal was read out), with reference to start of MPISG efforts with illegal demolition for illegal Sultangarhi scheme on 05/07/00 and to former Justice Mukherji, and notification of IT Park and Industries Public Notices in duration of MPD-2021 Public Notice, etc. In MPISG response to Environment chapter deletion of Baijal committee annexure was suggested in context of comment on failure to recognise ground water as the uniquely significant feature of ridge-river ecosystem – with reference to WP 8523/2003 in the matter of DDA / GNCTD projects in violation of MPD and CGWA and EIA notifications in ridge periphery and contempt of order of 16/09/02 apropos Sultangarhi, etc, and WP 6500/2005 pertaining also to property development in violation of MPD and CGWA and EIA notifications on riverbed and contempt order of 03/03/03. In MPISG response to other MPD-2021 proposals also the afore-said court matters and prior Public Notices whose disregard is germane to them, are central. In July, in pendency of MPD-2021 Public Notice, DDA approved some other scheme for private participation in flatted, included EWS, housing and GNCTD announced plans for slum flats in Savda Ghevra (leading to letters of 20/07/05 and 29/07/05, enclosed for record) and DDA sought adjournment in WP 5007&5009/2002. After two more in August, on 09/09/05 it was granted last adjournment. On 12/09/05 a newspaper interview quoted new DDA VC:

  • “Right now, we are in the process of scrutinising the 7,000 suggestions and objections we received from the public on MPD-2021. We plan to arrange interactive workshops with the stakeholders to discuss these suggestions and objections. The DDA is working to meet the December deadline.”

Meanwhile the instant Public Notice was issued on 31/08/05 and within a week Secretary MoUD Anil Baijal had filed his affidavit swearing that the project for which impermissible land use change is proposed in it will commence in December 2005.

The circumstances leave no reason for anyone to bother to respond to this Public Notice, least of all for me after what I filed in response to MPD-2021 Public Notice and what respondents filed in my WP 6500/2005 (to say nothing in defence of their contempt of Public Notice process and tomes in defence of their indefensible commercial building on my riverbed without land use change, building permit, environmental or DUAC clearance). I am impelled to object only because I have learned that anti-Plan promoters of Mumbai-Model style paradigms are desiring to be on the Board for MPD-2021 Public Notice – VP Singh has forwarded Dunu Roy’s request for this. The point is not whether or not that request was acceded by DDA. The point is that those who have consistently undermined MPD and Public Notice process had the temerity to desire to hijack the MPD-2021 Public Notice. At the start of MPD revision I had cautioned DDA against insidious interferences of these elements, which I have amply chronicled since (as small example, I enclose a statement against their so-called housing rights event at WSF-2004). Their own “books” against MPD-2001 and MPD-2021 also reveal much. Their engagement on MPD-2021 Public Notice (throughout duration of which they, with collaborators among authors of MPD-2021, were lobbying with MPs, media, etc, and getting paid staff to garner public response in their support – ie, advocacy not participation) has less to do with our MPD than with their anti-Planning (and broader Rule of Man instead of Rule of Law) agenda – source of projects like at Tehkhand.

I am not filing this response in any foolish attempt to stall diversion of a District Park protected by development and environmental law to a builder scheme poised to receive Apex Court endorsement. I am filing it to underscore the distinction between advocacy and participation that is vital to the safeguard purpose of s.11A (and, indeed, to democracy and sovereignty) and is already made in MPISG responses to DMP-2021 Public Notice with reference to its proposals for participatory plan implementation (seriousness about which is poignantly belied by MPISG experiences). In that pursuit, I quote here Rule 8 and 9 from Chapter III of Delhi Development Master Plan and Zonal Development Plan Rules, 1959 (which, read with Rule 12, apply also to the instant Public Notice):

8. Appointemnt of Board for enquiry and hearing – (1) The Authority shall, for hearing and considering any representation, objection and suggestion to the draft master plan, appoint a Board consisting of not less than 3 and not more than 5 members of the Authority.

Provided that such Board shall have power to co-opt not more than 2 members from amongst the members of the Advisory Council.

(2) No business of the Board shall be transacted at any meeting unless at least three members are present from the beginning to the end of the hearing.

9. Enquiry and hearing – The secretary shall, after the expiry of the period allowed under these rules for making objections, representations and suggestions, fix a date or dates for hearing by the Board of any person, or local authority in connection with any objection, representation or suggestion made by such person or local authority or any person who may be allowed a personal hearing in connection with such representation, objection or suggestion to the draft master plan, a notice intimating the time, date and place of the hearing.

Provided that the Board may disallow personal hearing to any person, if it is of the opinion that the objection or suggestion made by such person is inconsequential, trivial or irrelevant.

Evidently, Rule-8 bars anyone like Dunu Roy from being on the Board. In my view Rule-9 bars also interactive-workshop style hearing. It clearly provides that any person, besides local authority, may be allowed a personal hearing in connection with any objection, representation or suggestion made by any (other) person. In view of the VP Singh / Dunu Roy move and the interactive-workshop remark of new DDA VC, I now request as follows:

  • As a qualified and experienced planner, engaging via constitutional processes in support of the Plan and Public Notice process since start of MPD revision in 1999-2000, I request personal hearing under Rule-9 on each and every objection, representation and suggestion filed in response to the instant or MPD-2021 Public Notice by anyone, especially NGOs and associated persons, that is not based on any prior MPD based engagement via prior Public Notice or court matter or any other constitutional process and, for making this provision of Rule-9 effective, for all Public Notice responses to be placed in public domain.

And I suggest you reply forthwith to this request as well as to the objections at no.1 & 2.

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma, Planner

enclosed, as above:

  • letter of 20/07/051
  • letter of 29/07/052

statement of January 20043 (1p)