Letter, Master Plan Public Notice Matter; DMP-2021 Public Notice: s.41(3) application (01/10/2005)
Draft Delhi Master Plan 2021: Best wishes / suggestions for the Board
As a qualified planner I am acutely aware that s.11A (for DMP modification) and s.41 (for control over DDA) are safeguard provisions of DD Act / DMP. I am making the instant application because I apprehend gross violations, including in Board composition, that vitiate the entire DMP-2021 Public Notice (and, indeed, DMP-2021). I am making it you rather than to Secretary MoUD because my prior s.41(3) applications to him, including those forwarded by Hon’ble President, have been repeatedly ignored and now even denied in MoUD counter-affidavit in my WP 6500/2005 (in the matter, precisely, of procedural violations in s.11A Public Notices). Some facts and events leading to the present application are as follows:
- (a) I was instrumental in WP 4978/2002 (Delhi Science Forum v/s DDA & Ar) in which the Sultangarhi scheme on 56 Ha in Green Belt in J-Zone, started without s.11A process, was stopped and ordered inquired into by DDA Chairman vide judgment of 16.09.2002.
- (b) s.11A Public Notice of 15.09.2002 precipitated was one issued after a period of DMP modifications without due process and I was instrumental in ensuring that over 1700 affected families in the area responded, squarely in the ambit of their DMP entitlements.
- (c) Hearing for that Public Notice was held on 27.01.2003 and I was instrumental in ensuring serious participation as well as a report of the proceedings from those who appeared to assist the Board in its task. I also brought procedural lapses to the attention of the Board.
- (d) A number of s.11A Public Notices were subsequently issued, in response to which I filed objections / suggestions and also made follow-up representations for disposal according to Rules. To the best of my knowledge, Hearing for those was not held.
- (e) I also made representations for s.11A process in context of arbitrary initiatives, eg, projects in violation of plans, land acquisition for non-DMP purposes, tenders for freehold disposal, cooperative Bill, regularisation ideas, MCD-NGO hawker markets, etc.
- (f) I am informing WP 8523/2003 (Shiv Narayan v/s DDA & Ors) challenging projects then proposed / starting in ridge periphery without compliance with s.11A and Sultangarhi judgment. DDA replied only in 2005, and pleadings closed without replies of GNCTD, etc.
- (g) On 07.04.2005 I filed WP 6500/2005 (Gita Dewan Verma v/s DMRC & Ors) against metro property development in pendency of s.11A Public Notices (after inauguration by CM and MoUD Secretary of IT Park on the riverbed, built also in contempt of order of 03.03.2003).
- (h) On 08.04.2005 DMP-2021 Public Notice was issued and in its 90-day period were issued s.11A notifications to regularise IT Park (on 25.04.2005, despite notice in WP 6500/2005) and for industries (without due consideration, as evident from the continuing confusion).
- (i) I made representations about notifications and against pushing by DDA/MoUD and NGO/Mr VP Singh of slum flats (‘Mumbai-Model’) in DMP-2021 Public Notice period – to urge s.11A sanctity, filing on last day my own response solely for this (Annexure-1).
- (j) In August 2005, DDA reply in WP 8523/2003 stated Sultangarhi proposal was notified on 29.01.04 (without copy or saying how in pendency of the instant matter reiterating 1700 s.11A objections) and DDA and MoUD replies in WP 6500/2005 defended the indefensible IT Park, claiming – without reference to Rules – due disposal of objections.
- (k) On 31.08.2005 was issued s.11A Public Notice for impermissible land use change from District Park at Tehkhand for the slum-flats builder project being pushed. The following week Secretary MoUD assured start in December in his affidavit in Supreme Court; in WP 5007&5009/2002 in the matter of misuse of planned EWS housing sites in the Zone DDA again sought adjournment; and new DDA Vice Chairman said in a press interview: “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 stakeholders to discuss these suggestions and objections. The DDA is working to meet the December deadline”. And Mr VP Singh inaugurated a global NGO event (‘poverty concert’) and recommended inclusion in the Board of an NGO proprietor, about which I learned last week and was impelled to file an objection to meaningless Public Notice of 31.08.2005.
- (l) In my objection dated 28.09.2005, deposited by hand on 29.09.2005, I also requested personal hearing under Rule-9 on DMP-2021 responses filed by others, especially NGOs, and making all responses public to make this Rule effective. I was about to write directly to DMP-2021 Public Notice Screening Committee / Board on 29.09.2005, when I received by courier DDA’s letter, dated 26.09.2005 and dispatched on 28.09.2005, for ‘Public hearing of Objections/Suggestions on Draft MPD-2021’ ‘on 3rd Oct.2005 at 9:30 a.m. in PHD, Chamber of Commerce, PHD house’ (Annexure-2).
From DDA’s letter dated 26.09.2005 (which is different in form from the Notice that I received for Sultangarhi hearing, also included in Annexure-2) and what I was told when I called DDA offices for clarification on 30.09.2005 (on 29.09.2005 afternoon they were closed) it is evident that the procedure being followed is not in conformity with the Delhi Development Master Plan and Zonal Development Plans Rules, 1959 (Annexure-3).
The violations, specifically of Rule-8 (Appointment of Board for enquiry and hearing) and Rule-9 (Enquiry and Hearing), are set out in following paragraphs. I submit these are no trivial violations. They make DMP-2021 nothing short of subversion of the Act to, in effect, legislate problems in place of DMP-2001 solutions by extrapolating, so to speak, the motif of wilful dispossession for wilful development that marks builder projects at Sultangarhi, etc, in ridge and IT Park on riverbed, come about despite court interventions and with diabolical complicity of pro-poor and Green NGO ‘activists’ – by identical subversions of Public Notice process.
1. Composition of the Board for enquiry and hearing (violation of Rule-8(1))
(1.1) Rule-8(1) requires a Board comprising “not less than 3 and not more than 5 members of the Authority” and empowers the Board “to co-opt not more than 2 members from amongst the members of the Advisory Council” constituted under s.5 for advising the Authority in respect of planned development). It is evident and/or construable that:
- (i) No persons outside the Authority and the Advisory Council can be on the Board for enquiry and hearing of Public Notices for DMP modification.
- (ii) Representation of Advisory Council is optional and of Authority mandatory and greater, ie, juridical rather than technical Board is contemplated.
- (iii) The Board can have at most 7 members, ie, less than a fourth of the total in the Authority and the Advisory Council under, respectively, s.3(3) and s.5(2).
- (iv) With comfortable ratio of one in four, it is eminently feasible to have a Board with members who, for instance:
- a. collectively reflect the diversity in the Authority and Advisory Council
- b. individually have had no direct role in the proposals under consideration
(1.2) I was told (on phone on 30.09.2005) that the Board that will hear me has DDA VC (as Chairman), DDA Engineer Member, DDA Commissioner (Planning), MCD Commissioner, TCPO Chief Planner, DTC Chairman, DJB Chief Executive Officer, Principal Secretaries (Power and Urban Development) of GNCTD. From the composition of Authority and Advisory Council as stipulated in, respectively, s.3(3) and s.5(2) of DD Act and from the names of their members set out on pages 444-445 of the gazetted draft DMP-2021, it is evident that all the above points are violated:
- (i) DDA Commissioner (Planning), DJB CEO, GNCTD Prinicpal Secretaries, etc, are not / cannot be members of either the Authority or the Advisory Council and are, therefore, ineligible to be on the Board in any capacity.
- (ii) The stipulation of at least 3:2 ratio for higher representation of the Authority is violated, with half the Board comprising of those who are not on the Authority and are specialist/ technical persons/officials uncalled for in such a Board
- (iii) The Board has at least 9 members, whereas Rule-8 permit at most 7.
- (iv) The Board fails to reflect the diversity that DD Act requires in the Authority and Council. While persons ineligible and/or involved with making/advocating DMP-2021 proposals are on Board, out of those eligible to be on it:
- None of 12 elected representatives (3 MPs, 3 MLAs and 2 Councillors on the Authority and 4 Councillors on Advisory Board) are on Board. (Mercifully Mr VP Singh’s NGO-candidate as ‘people’s-representative’ is also not on it, though his name was, I understand, actually considered).
- None of the 5 GoI nominees to Advisory Council to represent interest of labour and commerce/industry (s.5(2)f) and for planning knowledge (s.5(2)b) are on Board (not counting Authority members DDA VC and TCPO Chief, seemingly on Advisory Council for planning knowledge)
- None of GoI officials nominated to the Authority u/s.3(3)g and concerned specifically with Delhi issues for crucial purposes of the Act ((JS(D&L) MoUD and Member Secretary NCRPB) are on Board.
- Of DDA officials required to be on the Authority u/s.3(3)b-d, Finance Member is not on Board even as DMP is in nature of resource budget, whereas Engineer Member (more suited to hearings for projects) and DDA VC (whom the Act itself permits to be only part-time member) are.
- You, Sir, are not on the Board even though the Act requires that you be Chairman of the Authority and President of the Advisory Council and this is DMP-2021 Public Notice itself, besides which court orders pertaining to Sultangarhi and IT Park cast juridical responsibilities on your office.
The composition of the Board needs rectification for conformity with law. Criteria for selecting members from the Authority and Advisory Council must be made public and reasons for appointing ineligible persons (and also for considering sundry requests for the same) merit investigation and appropriate action.
2. Meetings of the Board already held (possible abuse of Rule-8(2))
(2.1) Rule-8(2) provides “No business of the Board shall be transacted at any meeting unless at least three members are present from the beginning to end of the hearing”.
(2.2) With Rule-8(1) this guarantees quorum of nearly half including at least one Authority member. With Rule-8(1) breached, this safeguard fails. In the instant case, meetings with one third or less quorum and no Authority member are possible by Rule-8(2).
I understand the Board has already conducted meetings / hearings. Minutes of these merit investigation. In this regard I wish to mention that in the recent past high-level meetings have taken decisions in contravention of law and the scam CBI exposed in 2003 was at the top, implicating positions whose current incumbents are on Board.
3. ‘Public hearing’ scheduled on 03.10.2005 (violation of Rule-9)
(3.1) Apropos objections / suggestions in response to Public Notice, Rule-9 provides for:
- (i) “personal hearing” by the Board (no other type of hearing is contemplated), only “in connection with” the objection / suggestion (and not, say, the person / ‘type’ of persons making objections / suggestions)
- (ii) hearing to be fixed on one or more “date or dates” for each objection / suggestion as well as allowing personal hearing also to “local authority or any person” in connection with such objection / suggestion (ie, a process of quasi-judicial nature in respect of each response)
- (iii) “notice intimating the time, date and place of the hearing”
(3.2) From DDA’s letter and what I was able to ascertain, “Public hearing” on 03.10.05 (by Board violating Rule-8(1)) is in violation of Rule-9 on all the above counts:
- (i) The letter is for “Public hearing”, seemingly in “interactive-workshop” style with professionals in the forenoon and RWAs/NGOs in the afternoon. This is contrary to Rules, reduces all responses to lowest common denominator on basis of class prejudice and amounts to substituting individual right to hearing on specific matter with fuzzy ‘stakeholder-category’ based ‘interaction’. (It is pertinent that in the hearing for Sultangarhi Public Notice, citizens had requested they be allowed to appear together since responses, pertaining to a single site and duly disposed PIL, were connected. This was not permitted).
- (ii) The letter asks me to present my objection/suggestion to the Board, but does not say if any one else has been allowed, on same / another date, hearing on it. Nor am I in receipt of any communication allowing me, in view of my court matters, etc, hearing on any other objection/suggestion. As mentioned, I have made in my s.11A response of 28.09.2005 a request in this regard. I am also aware that an SPA faculty member has asked to be allowed to attend hearings as observer and an engineer for access to his response / allowing hearing to others. (It is pertinent that while Mr VP Singh’s desire of installing an NGO-proprietor on the Board in violation of Rule-8(1) was considered, no steps have been taken for bonafide broader participation in ambit of Rule-9).
- (iii) The letter is not a Notice, as required by Rules. Among other things:
- a. It does not say it is Notice and does not bear a number (unlike the letter for Sultangarhi Public Notice hearing)
- b. Dispatched on 28.09.2005, with half 29.09.05 and 01-02.10.05 holidays, it does not meet the “reasonable time” stipulation for notices u/s.45.
The hearing on 03.10.2005 is not in accordance with Rules and throws the entire DMP-2021 Public Notice process wide open to challenge.
4. Arbitrary screening for allowing hearing (disregard of proviso to Rule-9)
(4.1) Proviso to Rule-9 provides “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”. This proviso, in effect, provides for:
- (i) efficiency in s.11A hearings and protection against interferences
- (ii) implicit guarantee that personal hearing will not be disallowed unless the objection/suggestion is “inconsequential, trivial or irrelevant”
- (iii) discretion, calling for transparent criteria or, at least, Board above any doubt
(4.2) Along with the letter for hearing on 03.10.2005 addressed to me, three others were sent to my address. These and what I was told when I called for clarifications reveal disregard / misuse of proviso to Rule-9 in terms of the above:
- (i) My letter in context of DMP2021 Public Notice was not “Objection/Suggestion on Draft MPD-2021”, but – as stated in its subject line – “Best wishes / suggestion for the Board”. Despite proviso to Rule-9 making it incumbent upon the Board to not waste Hearing time on me, I have been invited. Evidently, the screening process has not adequately examined the content of responses and/or been guided by pre-conceptions about persons filing them.
- (ii) Of the three other letters, two pertain to detailed responses amongst those on various chapters by various convenors of Master Plan Implementation Support Group on the letterhead that bears my address, though letters for other MPISG convenors who filed detailed responses to other chapters have not arrived. The third is for one of several persons who filed suggestions (from different areas about different provisions) independently after discussions and to my knowledge the several others have not received letters (and it is patently presumptuous that this one was sent to me even though the suggestion bore a different address provided by the person filing). These three are also for the same hearing session that I understand is for “professionals”, though none of the addressees are professionals. Slotting them a such and, it appears, disallowing hearing to other MPISG convenors and others on presumption of some groupism amounts to misuse of proviso to Rule-9 to deny personal hearing guarantee.
- (iii) All four letters are to those denied hearings on prior Public Notice. One, denied hearing even on Sultangarhi, is deponent of the last Rejoinder in afore-mentioned WP 5007/5009 in which DDA has gone dilatory. MPISG Housing convenor has been denied hearing on Public Notices for, besides s.11A, land acquisition and power. MPISG Riverbed convenor has been denied hearing on Pushta clearance and on Public Notices for Industries and Mall Road, besides IT Park, on which all of us have been denied hearing. Counter-affidavits in WP 6500/2005 have not provided the criteria by which responses were found “inconsequential, trivial or irrelevant” and the present letters do not clarify how the same issues (in case of the others’ responses, and philosophical ones in case of mine) are now considered otherwise or why this changed position is not reflected in, say, related court matters.
It is evident that that there is no reasoned criterion for applying proviso to Rule-9 and “opinion” of the Board is no more than whim of members (mostly on the Board in violation of Rule-8). Besides rectification of Board for conformity with Rule-8 and hearing process for conformity with Rule-9, it is imperative for broader participation permissible under Rule-9 and for credible application of proviso to Rule-9 that all responses be made public and the ones found “inconsequential, trivial or irrelevant” be clearly indicated with reason for that opinion.
It is also imperative that details of (rectified) Board be made public and opportunity granted to bring to the attention of the Authority any lapses on Public Notice process by any member for considering his/her substitution. (It is pertinent that nearly all members of the present Board have been remiss in this regard and that, besides their presence on a Board composed in violation of law, leaves no confidence in their capability for lawful enquiry and hearing in the final phase of making DMP-2021 law).
I am aware that my representations are to little avail, but I would be failing in my responsibility as one associated with the aforementioned Public Notices and court matters that combine to make out this case if I were not to make this application. I apologise for it being hastily written and for any errors, unclarity or impropriety in it. I would willingly clarify anything in it and, if you do not find it ‘inconsequential, trivial or irrelevant’, be grateful for a hearing.
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner
Response dated 06.07.2005 to DMP-2021 Public Notice (hand delivered on 07.07.2005 at 3:15:54PM receipted vide REC/M/05/3,659)
Principal Commissioner cum Secretary
Delhi Development Authority
Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi - 110023
Sub: Draft Delhi Master Plan 2021: Best wishes / suggestions for the Board
As you might be aware, I have closely followed this Plan revision since it started. Being a qualified and experienced planner and researcher, I had anticipated much of what is proposed and my objections/suggestions are already recorded through due processes that will take their course. Apropos Public Notice responses, my most comprehensive one (on the so-called MPD2021 ‘guidelines’) has been rejected (p 258 says the 2000 suggestions received have been ‘duly considered’ and I find none of mine reflected anywhere); my best reasoned objection (in response to IT Park Public Notice) and most carefully considered suggestion (in response to Public Notice for redevelopment of industrial clusters) were rejected by notifications in the duration of this Public Notice; and my request for view on another carefully considered suggestion (made within ambit of s.11A for Safdarjang area / Games Village / Metro Property Development) has also returned no response. Under the circumstances, I am not filing my suggestions on draft MPD-2021. Should DDA have any use of my kind of plannerly lawyerly assistance in fixing glaring inconsistencies and techno-legal infirmities to make the document somewhat defensible, please do ask.
I am writing to wish the Board that will now consider the responses the very best with the next stage of this historic plan-revision. I would like to offer a small list of things that I have found useful in keeping plannerly balance while considering conflicting views, viz, readings from the Constitution of India and reflection on how development law and punitive law articulate imperatives differently, readings from MPD-1962 and MPD-2001 and reflection on continuity and change, readings from Delhi Development Act and reflection on its unexplored opportunities, viewing the film Matrix and reflection on the gap between sophistication of a choice-less system and extant reality.
I also suggest consideration of the question of former Justice Shamit Mukherji, who has taken the brunt of the DDA scam with obvious damage to the image of the judiciary. In terms of DDA’s mandate all he did was look away from an MPD violation; the violation stands and several MPD2021 proposals do far worse. The proposed IT Park on the riverbed might be a good place to start reflecting on this question. Notification of this proposal was produced in court on 23 May and it was mentioned before Lok Sabha Standing Committee on 30 May, when also the Sahara matter was mentioned about which DDA was asked to submit a report. Also, final hearings of the Arjun Camp cases (filed prior to the DDA scam and challenging violations including Sahara) have finally begun on 05 July (incidentally the date on which bulldozers rolled into Rangpuri Pahari to start the Sultangarhi scam in 2000).
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner
(A) Text of letter from DDA for Public hearing on 03.10.2005 (dispatched on 28.09.2005 by BLAZEFLASH COURIERS LIMITED No.*212715838)
DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
MASTER PLAN FOR DELHI - 2021
D-6, VASANT KUNJ NEAR FLYOVER
NEW DELHI – 110070
Dated: 26th September, 2005
GITA DEWAN VERMA,
Subject: Public hearing of Objections/Suggestions on Draft MPD-2021
This is to refer to your Objection/Suggestion on Draft MPD-2021, filed in response to Public Notice dated 8th April, 2005. You are requested to present your objection/suggestion before the Board of Enquiry and Hearing constituted for the purpose on 3rd Oct.2005 at 9:30 a.m. in PHD, Chamber of Commerce, PHD house, 4/2 Siri Fort institutional area, August Kranti Marg, New Delhi – 10016.
Asst.Director (Plg.) IV-MPPR
(B) Text of letter from DDA for Public hearing on 27.01.2003
DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
ROHINI PROJECT - PLANNING & DESIGN
No:F3 (96) 98/MP/42-92/42-92
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE
Sub: CHANGE OF LAND USE OF 56 HAC. OF LAND IN J ZONE, VASANT KUNJ AREA, NEW DELHI
With reference to the Objections / Suggestions, submitted by you for the change of Land use, in response to the Public Notice dated 15.9.2002 on the subject cited above, a Public hearing meeting has been fixed by the SPECIAL SCREENING BOARD, under the chairmanship of Engineer Member, DDA, on 27.01.2003 at 10:30 A.M. in the Conference Hall, Vikas Sadan, B-Block, Ist Floor, INA, New Delhi.
You are, therefore, requested to make it convenient to attend the above Public Hearing Meeting along with any one of your representative, who has also signed the Objections / suggestions application, failing which no further opportunity will be given.
MEMBER SECY., SPL.SCREENING BOARD
Geeta Diwan Verma
New Delhi – 70
Excerpt: The Delhi Development Master Plan and Zonal Development Plan Rules, 1959
Procedure for preparation of Master Plan
- Public Notice regarding preparation of Master Plan – (1) As soon as may be after the draft master plan has been prepared, the Authority shall publish a public notice stating that:
(a) The draft master Plan has been prepared and may be inspected by any person at such time and place may be be specified in the notice
(b)Suggestions and objections in writing, if any, in respect of the draft master plan may be filed by any person with the secretary of the Authority within 90 days from the date of first publication of the notice.
(2) This notice may be in Form ‘A’ appended to these rules without modification with such modification as may be necessary.
6. Mode of Publication of Public Notice – The Authority shall cause the said notice to be published in the manner prescribed by section 44 of the Act and may also cause it to be published in the Official Gazette.
7. Notice to and representation from local authorities – The Authority shall cause a copy of the notice referred to in Rule 6 to be sent every local authority within whose limits any land touched by the plan is situates, and such local authority may, within a period of 90 days from the date of the notice, make any representation with respect to the plan to the Authority.
8. Appointment 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 in respect of the draft Master Plan and shall serve on the 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.
10. Report of Enquiry – The Board shall after the conclusion of its enquiry, submit to the Authority a report of its recommendations.
11. Preparation of final draft Master Plan and its submission to Central Government - The Authority shall, after considering the report of the Board and any other matter it thinks fit, finally prepare the master plan and submit it to the Central Government for its approval.
12. Amendment of Master Plan – The Authority may amend the whole or any part of the master plan, if necessary. At the expiry of every five years in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Act and these rules as if the proposed amendment were a new master plan.
Provided that if the Authority is of the opinion that having regard to the circumstances prevailing at any particular time it is necessary so to do, it may amend the master plan or any part thereof at any time prior to the expiry of the said period, in accordance with the aforesaid procedure.
Provided further that the Authority may, without following the aforesaid procedure, but with the prior approval of the Central Government, permit on receipt of an application in this behalf, any change in the size of public parks and recreation grounds not exceeding ten per cent either way of the approved size.
13. Approval of Central Government to amendment of master plans - (1) amendment of the master plan shall take effect unless approved by the Central overnment.
(2) Immediately after an amendment has been approved by the Government the Authority shall publish it in such manner as may be prescribed by regulations a notice stating that the amendment has been approved and naming a place where a copy of the amendment may be inspected at all reasonable hours and upon the date of the first publication of the aforesaid notice the amendment shall come into operation.