Response to Public Notice; Sub: response to public notice f.20(1)2004-mp pt 1 dated 07.11.2004 (posted on DDA website)

On behalf of all synergizing on MPISG on PIL WP 8523/2003, WP 6980/2002 and WP 4978/2002 and s.11A Public Notices of 15.09.2002 (Sultangarhi) and 18.09.2004 (IT Park), etc.

Dear Sir,

Our attention has been drawn today to the above-mentioned Public Notice whereby “It is proposed to change the land use of an area measuring 6.95 ha. at Mahipalpur in Zone ‘F’ and bounded by the CISF land in the North, proposed road of 13.5 m width adjoining proposed green area / Defence Enclave in the South, proposed 18 m wide road / Defence land in the East and existing built up area of Village Mahipalpur in the West, from ‘Government land’ (Use undetermined) to Commercial”.

Firstly, we wish to draw your attention to the following about this proposal:

  • The location described is part of Mahipalpur Hauz, which is part of a 14th century system of water structures at the S-W apex of Delhi’s ridge-river triangle. Besides being a significant ground water recharge site (in an area duly notified by CGWA for its critical ground water regime), this is part of a complex system of surface water management, already jeopardized by unplanned construction (as demonstrated by the monsoon-time breach of the 14th century Mahipalpur Bundh in 2003). This location is singularly inappropriate for any intense use, such as commercial.
  • The existing land use is indeed ‘Government Land (Use undetermined)” as per Master Plan Land Use Plan. In terms of F-Zone Plan, however, the location falls in sub-Zone F-14, which is earmarked for ‘Defence’, an apposite use since it includes activities needing little or no construction (suitable for environmental resource protection) and involving low-intensity usage (within infrastructure carrying capacity of the sub-zone). Commercial use in zub-Zone F-14 is inappropriate in terms of environment and infrastructure capacity parameters flowing from the Master Plan and incompatible with designated Zonal Plan use (viz, ‘Defence’)
  • The area proposed for commercial use (6.95 Ha) is in excess of what the Master Plan stipulates (5.40 Ha) for highest hierarchy commercial centre in residential use-zone (a use-zone indicated in ‘Yellow’ in Master Plan Land Use Plan, as for Mahipalpur-Mehrauli (ridge periphery) area). What is proposed in the instant Public Notice is either a sub-district level or non-hierarchy commercial centre, which is contrary to Master Plan Land Use Plan and also precluded on the site as described (and perhaps also by Supreme Court’s direction for stopping all commercial development till a parking policy is in place) since it would require, among other things, access from at least a primary collector (ie, 30 m r/w as per the Master Plan).
  • s.7 and s.8 of Delhi Development Act and Master Plan stipulations for Zonal Plans and the detailed planning process set out in its Development Code make it amply clear that Zonal Plans are to be prepared or modified only to act as link between Master Plan and sub-Zonal plans. Sub-Zonal plan for F-14 has not been prepared and in the F-Zone Plan the sub-Zone is not detailed out in terms of use premises. The instant proposal, for which even boundaries mentioned in the Public Notice are by way of either “proposed” or unplanned development, therefore, is for modification to F-Zone Plan to allow a (commercial) use activity on a site that is not a designated use premise in any approved Plan. This, in effect, is a proposal for unplanned development, which is not permissible under Delhi Development Act.

Secondly, we wish to draw your attention to the following related matters:

  1. The contention of citizens’ groups in Mehrauli-Mahipalpur area is that land acquired here for development according to Plan has largely been used for unplanned projects at the cost of Plan entitlements and loss of amenity for existing communities. Stopping unplanned development and a-priori implementation of mandatory provisions for existing communities is subject of WP 8523/2003 (Shiv Narayan v/s DDA & Ors), a PIL based on engagements since 2000, in which Hon’ble High Court issued notice on 22.09.04. On 01.12.04 DDA counsel sought, presumably on behalf of all respondents, two more weeks to file reply. The matter is listed now for 23.02.04. The instant proposal is no different from projects / proposals challenged in the said PIL
  2. Commercial development planned (ie, set out in approved Zonal and sub-Zonal plans) in and around Vasant Kunj has not been developed and disposed off according to Plan and the skew in favour of up-market non-facility commercial use is at cost of Plan entitlements and unsustainable in terms of infrastructure capacity as well as market viability. This issue is sub-judice in WP 6980/2002 (MPISG & Ors v/s DDA & Ar) and on 11.08.04, Hon’ble High Court had ordered counter-affidavits (not filed to date). On 27.10.04 the matter did not reach and is now listed for 05.01.05. The instant proposal attracts core challenges of the said PIL.
  3. In July/August 2004, Central Empowered Committee constituted by Supreme Court reportedly cleared / made recommendations in a petition by some environmentalist NGOs seeking that the area between Vasant Vihar and Mahipalpur be declared forest. We have received no response from either CEC or others, including respondents, to our letters drawing CEC’s attention to WP 8523/2003 and seeking a hearing, but we believe CEC is unlikely to have cleared / recommended this unplanned commercial use, also in view of EIA notification as amended in July 2004.
  4. In response to Public Notice of 06.09.03 for land acquisition for CRPF camp in Mehrauli (ridge), an objection (encl.11) was filed on grounds of Defence land in sub-zone F-14, etc, and a letter (encl.22) written to DDA Vice Chairman. Clarifications sought in these remain pending and apply to the instant Public Notice as well. (The letter at encl.2 refers also to GNCTD hospital in green belt, also subject of WP 8523/2004 and, incidentally, one of our constituent groups is in receipt of a copy of a recent letter from GNCTD to DDA Vice Chairman about a 200-bed hospital on at least 4 acres in Mahipalpur, which also suggests that the instant Public Notice is for an ad-hoc project).
  5. The issue of unplanned projects jeopardizing Plan entitlements (for equitable efficient use of city space in the present and protection of environmental / built heritage for posterity) is the basis of over 1700 responses to s.11A Public Notice of 15.09.02 precipitated by WP 4978/2002 (Delhi Science Forum v/s DDA & Ar) in which Sultangarhi scheme (across the Mahipalpur-Mehrauli road from the instant site) was stopped and ordered inquired into. Construction on the scheme (also covered by WP 8523/2004) has resumed and response is awaited to letter of 22.11.04 (encl.33) for clarifications about compliance, etc, which apply also to the instant Public Notice since, among other things, at hearing on 27.01.03, a DDA planner himself had pointed out that development of facilities for Mahipalpur in the johad or hauz was not possible in view also of court orders.
  6. The issue of unplanned commercial development has also been raised in responses to s.11A Public Notices for ‘metro property development’, clarifications about which have been sought in, for instance, letter of 24.11.04 (encl.44) in the context of Public Notice for industries in view of obfuscation of industrial and commercial use, especially options for industries in commercial development. These apply to the instant Public Notice also since they relate also to commercial development on riverbed, equivalent to commercial development in ridge / historic water bodies. (Incidentally, DMRC counsel claimed at hearing of 01.12.04 no role in WP 8523/2003, though site for a depot near Sultangarhi scheme was fully surveyed by DMRC in 2003 and its workers used the workers housing on the mega-housing site when work was suspended there).

Thirdly, we wish to point out that s.44 of Delhi Development Act, 1957, stipulates that: “Every public notice under this Act shall be in writing under the signature of the secretary to the Authority and shall be widely made known to the locality to be affected thereby by affixing copies thereof in conspicuous places within the said locality, or by publishing the same by beat of drum or by advertisement in local newspapers or by any two or more of these means, and by any other means that the secretary may think fit.” We are of the opinion that the instant Public Notice was not publicized as required by law and, since it does frustrate / impinge the judicial / statutory processes enumerated at 1-6 above, it was incumbent upon DDA to advise the petitioners / representationists therein about it having been issued. Especially in the context of Hon’ble Supreme Court having said apropos Public Notice for industries that it will test conformity of the same with law and constitutional framework, we believe greater seriousness is warranted about the sanctity of s.11A process. We learned of this notice only today and are filing this response without inspecting the “plan” available in Vikas Minar, which we expect provides only irrelevant details of an idea that has no basis in any legal Plan but which someone will, nevertheless, be inspecting on our behalf today and, if needed, we will add to this response.

In view of the foregoing we urge DDA to:

  1. Withdraw this proposal since it is for unplanned commercial development not required by the (residential) area and unsuited to the environmental resource site and incompatible with the proximous 400-year old settlement as well as overall use (defence / security) designated for the sub-zone in which it is proposed.
  2. Review, in context of the order of 16.09.02 in WP 4978/2002 as well as DDA scam of 2003, the process by which this proposal came to pass and also test, in view of Supreme Court’s observation, this Public Notice for conformity with law.
  3. Expedite responses sought in relation to afore-mentioned judicial / statutory processes that this Public Notice frustrates / impinges
  4. Expedite preparation of sub-zonal plan for F-14 and surrounding sub-Zones in conformity with law (ie, in terms of Zonal Plan / Master Plan targets and further statutory imperatives arising from CGWA notification, etc), as requested since 2000 and now in WP 8523/2003, and as required by statutory responsibilities for planning and Plan implementation without discharge of which any exercise of powers for Plan modification would be malafide.

We seek a response and/or hearing on our response at the earliest and hope we will not have to seek the court’s intervention for this.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

(for and on behalf of all synergizing on MPISG on matters enumerated at 1-6)

Gita Dewan Verma

MPISG Planner