07/06/2000: [letter] from Gita Dewan Verma / Planner to Vijay Kapur / LG & DDA Chairman

With copy to P K Ghosh / DDA VC and Vijay Risbud / DDA Commissioner Planning) about informal interventions for Delhi Master Plan 2021, mentioning Delhi Government’s association with the World Bank funded study for environmental and infrastructure imperatives for Delhi 2021, former Prime Minister V P Singh’s ill-informed statements about the Master Plan and slum policy, NGOs assuming the mandate for some “people’s Master Plan” at a convention (arranged by one Sajha Manch, forum of 8 organisations, and attended by Chief Minister, former PM, NGO-friendly “experts”, etc – at which Action Aid’s newly launched Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan’s ongoing Rapid Assessment of the homeless was already “presented”), etc, to suggest / request a transparent and systematically participatory process for the just started Master Plan revision. 

Mr Vijai Kapur

Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and Chairman, DDA

Sub: Master Plan for Delhi – informal interventions outside of DDA and their implications

Dear Sir

I have been meaning to write to you in the above matter for quite some time now. At a press conference yesterday Mr VP Singh demanded a white paper on landuse in the context of Delhi. On Sunday a group of NGOs gave themselves, at a well-attended convention they had called, the mandate for preparing something like an “alternative” master plan for Delhi. Earlier there were newspaper reports of huge funding by World Bank to carry out studies on infrastructure and environmental imperatives for Delhi for 2021, which also seems like an “alternative” master planning exercise. Over the last few months, I have also heard from professional colleagues – who are, presumably, unhappy with the composition of the working groups that DDA has appointed – stray thoughts about suggesting “alternatives” in various sectors. I have, in recent weeks, heard similar suggestions of “alternative” inputs from political activists.

I am a little alarmed at these developments. If such “informal alternatives” actually come about entirely independently of the “formal” master plan and have to be “incorporated” into it (on account of various pressure groups) at a later date, we’ll end up with a very delayed and rather patchy master plan.

Of course, it is true that DDA is the only agency statutorily mandated to prepare a master plan for Delhi and, further, it is not obliged to consult other stakeholders on it except in the form of inviting public objections on the draft, once it has been prepared. So it may not be necessary for DDA to do anything about these developments.

On the other hand, it is also true that the two earlier master plan exercises have left a large segment of Delhi’s population outside the ambit of planned development and many in Delhi do not trust the old master planning process. In addition, unlike before, there is perhaps a greater degree of involvement in city development amongst stakeholders outside of DDA and, therefore, the very real possibility of useful inputs from them. In any case, “transparency” and “participation” have much great political currency in the development sector now than earlier and such “informal” interventions have become the accepted – even expected – style of functioning in some sections of the development set. So it might be useful if DDA does take the initiative to converge these alternative initiatives into its own at early stages.

In view of the above, as a concerned citizen – who happens also to be a planning professional of at least some standing – I would like to request two things.

  • Firstly, could the DDA please keep the citizens of Delhi informed about the progress on the master plan (through, say, periodic press releases) and allow access to documents like seminar reports, base papers, etc? I suspect many thoughts of alternative master planning are arising because of not really knowing how much has already been done.
  • Secondly, could the DDA please leave a window open for the views of those not appointed to its working groups? Obviously, there are many more persons (amongst professionals, NGOs and political parties) who can contribute constructively to particular sectors (if not at the level of the overall plan). They may not all be landuse planners or even planners. But they could still provide valuable inputs for defining sector problems, developing a vision, setting and prioritising strategic objectives, and identifying necessary actions (with or without their spatio-physical implications).

If such initiatives have already been made, do excuse my ignorance and kindly let me know more about them. If they are not in place and you consider them worth making, do let me know if I can help in any way. And if I do not hear from you, I will assume that you consider my requests frivolous.

Best regards

Gita Dewan Verma, 07.06.00


  • Mr P K Ghosh, Vice-Chairman, DDA
  • Mr Vijay Risbud, Commissioner (Planning), DDA