Industries in Delhi: getting the discourse on course
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 07.02.03

I call, in my book and otherwise, the fracas surrounding industries in
Delhi 'The Great Terrain Robbery'. While identical patterns are seen in
the matters of residential and commercial development in the city, this
one is almost frightening because it is happening despite so much
attention for so long. I do not understand industrial use except in
plannerly and broad land use terms, nor do I have a client group from whom
I can learn. I find this cannot-win-cannot-break-even-cannot-quit-the-game
situation I find myself in apropos industrial land use very frustrating
and had decided in December not to 'whine' about it anymore, except
privately to DDA/MoUD. This round of public whining is provoked by Esha
Roy's report 'Okhla empty, govt can't see space' in Express Newsline
<> The report
quotes industry owners on plans to leave on account of neglect of
infrastructure, on how commercialising industrial space is driven only by
real-estate interests, on why regularisation of industries in residential
areas in unnecessary in view of industrial space being available, etc.

I have been loosely chronicling the commercialising moves at
<>. And now I am posting a
chronicle of the regularising moves at
<>. I am completely convinced
that the court striking down DDA?s proposal to allow commercial use of
industrial space provides an entry point to make ?misuse? of about 2000
hectares of planned industrial space central to the discourse to put it
back on course. On 01.11.02 I had written to MoUD/DDA in this regard. The
text of what I had circulated on 01.11.02, and part of what I had
circulated on 05.01.03 (after the Samaipur blast killed 9 and injured 13
barely a week after regularisation of units in residential areas was
announced) is here again.

(As an aside, Okhla, on which Esha Roy reports, is one of one of Delhi's
oldest industrial areas. It is also one in which notices against
commercial misuse have been served by DDA as per its affidavit. It is also
one of the two from where industry owners are petitioners in the matter in
which the Court struck down Delhi's slum policy, permitting eviction
without resettlement. (Slumming Delhi (talk at IIC) at The concatenation of
circumstances compelling industry and housing out of this prime location
makes, I think, a striking market trend, with which 'policy' announcements
are in complete harmony.)



Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 01.11.02

DDA has told the Supreme Court that it will drop its plan to allow
commercial use of industrial land and the Court has given it six weeks to
formulate a plan for action against mis-users. A DDA Commissioner has been
reported saying that the scheme was for those "already misusing the lands.
We felt that since they were misusing it anyway, DDA should get a share''.
('DDA to withdraw scheme allowing change in land use', Express Newsline,
01.11.02). Simultaneously it was reported that Sheila Dikshit's government
has identified 24 residential areas of industrial concentration for
regularisation, of which DDA has cleared 15, and urged the Centre to add
41 types of industries to the Master Plan list of household industries.
('Centre sitting on regularisation issue' The Hindu, 01.11.02). A few days
ago a delegation of Delhi Laghu Udyog Mahasangh, led by former PM VP
Singh, met with Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar. VP Singh also
asked for regularisation of residential areas of industrial concentration
and expansion of the Plan list of household industries by including 12
types of industries. ('Khali parhe ploton ka survey hoga' [Vacant plots to
be surveyed], Hindustan, 27.10.02). Regularising industries operating in
residential areas in violation of the Master Plan by changing the Plan is
also part of Madan Lal Khurana's vision-2003.

The 'political consensus' on regularisation is purportedly to ease
pressure on relocation. So far the combined efforts of BJP and Congress
governments in Delhi have led to 16000 plots being 'developed' (against
about 100,000 required for relocation as per the court's orders). Lately
allotments of about 5000 of these were cancelled as allottees had not paid
up as government had not ensured infrastructure provision. Getting rid of
illegal commercial use to restore industrial land to industrial units
would also ease pressure on relocation, while providing industries planned
space rather than merely 'regularisation' (unlikely to do more than label
the problem solution). But at no point was there a 'political consensus'
against DDA's scheme, announced in May. The news report about the Court's
order against the scheme also has Amicus Curae speaking of 'problems' of
civic stress and river pollution on account of it (hardly a technically
tenable hypothesis), not of infringement of industrial units' statutory
entitlements to use of land and benefits of planned development. And DDA
Commissioner's "justification" of permitting commercial mis-use of
industrial plots against a fee on the grounds that "since they were
misusing it anyway, the DDA should get a share" is positively alarming.
After all, Delhi Development Act contemplates only one purpose of DDA,
viz, to secure development of Delhi according to Plan. Public land is
vested in DDA only to help in this responsibility for equitable benefit
for all citizens, not for DDA to 'share' ill-gotten gains of mis-users of
public land.

Now that the Court has asked DDA to place before it a plan of action
against mis-users, it would serve the city well for this plan of action to
be directed towards, besides penalising mis-users, restoring benefits of
planned industrial development to intended beneficiaries. In this, apart
from misuse of industrial land by allottees in industrial estates, the
Court should be informed about DDA's own misuse, notably of space where it
had to develop flatted factories and accommodate non-nuisance industries
in commercial areas as per the Master Plan. It is largely implementation
failure on these counts that has resulted in industrial units, especially
small units, facing the shift or shut option in a classic case of
punishing the victims, while driving the city economy to a precipice.
Also, since the Master Plan is under revision, DDA's plan of action should
be holistically informed by inputs from DDA's expert-group on industries.
This is necessary since the Act contemplates, by way of 'Plan', only
Master Plan and Zonal Plans and any other 'scheme', 'plan' or 'plan for
action' by DDA has no standing unless embedded in these. In such a
holistic assessment, it will also become obvious that government's
'relocation plans' are unnecessary violations of Master Plan provisions
for location, types and sizes of industrial plots as well as procedures
for relocation, besides its underlying concepts of balanced development,
residential-work linkages, etc. And 'regularisation' demands being put
forth by the entire political spectrum, and 'cleared' by DDA, are also
likewise. These departures from the Plan, which are arguably sub-standard
and unsustainable, may also amount to misuse of public land for
unconsidered industrial use, 'sparing' better industrial areas for other
mis-use, which DDA and MoUD are not inclined to stop unless 'forced' by
the courts.

The statutory framework for defining mis-use is provided by the Master
Plan and all departures from it, whether at the instance of DDA or MoUD or
Delhi government or private users are cases of mis-use meriting public
scrutiny and corrective measures. In all the years that the matter of
industries has engaged the attention of the Court, successive governments,
media and the city, DDA has mislead all by keeping the robust provisions
of the Plan a 'secret' to 'cover-up' its own misuse and misuse by others
that it has treated with benign neglect in abdication of its statutory
responsibilities. Now that the apex Court has raised the issue of mis-use
of industrial space, it is opportune to put the industrial land use debate
firmly back on course by positioning this as the key causal factor in the
problem of industries in places not meant for industries. This and this
alone can lead to durable and just solutions by releasing for industrial
units land rightfully meant for them under the Plan. It might also restore
a modicum of discipline in planned development, which has all but
disappeared with all in any position of power freely experimenting with
inferior alternatives instead of implementing the statutory Plan, in ways
that clearly serve vested interests at the cost of public interest.


(only since previous last whine was too long/tantrumy)
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 05.01.03

....The Master Plan estimated there would be 96000 units in the city in
2001. And it earmarked planned industrial space for these in industrial
estates (about 1800 hectares in new estates, besides space remaining or
created by shifting non-permissible units, etc, in existing ones) as well
as in flatted factories and planned commercial areas. This industrial
space, distributed all over the city with wide choice in type and size,
seems qualitatively adequate. Since the actual number of industries is not
far in excess of estimates (especially after discounting units that were
to be shifted out), it also seems quantitatively adequate. Since it is
planned it can also very likely deal with problems of pollution, nuisance,
risk monitoring, regulation, etc, so as not to require 'industry-hatao for
industrial-problems-hatao' type approaches. If most units still operate
largely in places not meant for them, the core question that must be asked
and answered before attempting solutions or suggesting alternatives is
what happened to over 2000 hectares of planned industrial space in the

From a planning perspective this question is crucial for industries

because the problem of one lakh units cannot be solved through land-less
jugglery, and for others as 'regularisation' will ultimately only increase
up-market uses to an extent the city neither needs nor can sustain. It is
also crucial from a governance perspective to position the Plan as a
document of citizens' entitlements and not a plannerly artifact that may
be changed or disregarded to suit any willful definition of what
constitutes planned development or public interest. But it is perhaps for
justice that this question is most crucial, as obfuscation of big culprit,
small culprit and victim must go. In the industrial imbroglio in Delhi the
workers and the units that do not pollute or steal are victims of the
imbroglio. Units that steal electricity (as they have no choice really),
don't invest in safety or environmental measures (perhaps due to
insecurity on account of government's prevarication) and bribe officials
to look the other way, are, at worst, 'pickpockets'. But the 'murderers'
are those who have turned the state into a grass-eating fence, denying its
citizens' statutory entitlements and impairing the city's balanced
development. I am not able to understand why this crucial question bothers
no one even as I, for one, have been raising it for nearly 3 years now.