The following is the text of the letter I had sent to Secretary, MoUD on
Industrial land in Delhi: Recent news reports and a few suggestions in the
context of the Supreme Court's intervention in the matter of misuse of
industrial space in Delhi
Permit me to draw your attention to today's Express Newsline report ('DDA
to withdraw scheme allowing change in land use', 01.11.02) that says DDA
has told the Supreme Court it will drop its plan to allow commercial use
of industrial land and the Court has given it six weeks to formulate a
plan of action against misusers. Amicus Curiae is reported saying that
land use violations have directly led to strain on civic amenities and
pollution of Yamuna. DDA Commissioner (Commercial Lands) is quoted saying
the scheme ''was for those who were already misusing the lands. We felt
that since they were misusing it anyway, the DDA should get a share in
Permit me also to draw your attention to a report in the Hindu ('Centre
sitting on regularisation issue', 01.11.02) that has Chief Minister saying
her Congress government has identified 24 residential areas of industrial
concentration for regularisation by changing the Master Plan, of which 15
have been cleared by DDA, and urged the Centre to add 41 kinds of
industries to the Master Plan list of household industries. A news item in
Hindustan on 27.10.02, likewise, reported that a delegation of Delhi Laghu
Udyog Mahasangh under the leadership of former Prime Minister VP Singh met
with Union Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar. Mr Singh reportedly
also asked Mr Kumar to declare residential areas of industrial
concentration industrial and to expand the list of household industries by
including 12 more types of industries. These reports, besides recent
statements of Mr ML Khurana about BJP's Vision 2003 for Delhi, point to a
'political consensus' on regularising industries functioning in
residential areas in violation of the Plan by changing the Plan to conform
to the ground situation, howsoever problematic. This is purportedly to
ease pressure on relocation, for which 16,000 plots have been 'developed'
(as against about 100,000 units requiring relocation under the court's
orders). Allotments of about 5,000 of these were recently cancelled, as
allottees had not paid up, as government had not ensured infrastructure
provision. (Times of India, 12.10.02).
Now, getting rid of illegal commercial use to restore industrial land to
industrial units would also ease pressure on relocation, while providing
industrial units planned space within the city 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.
The news report about the Court's order against the scheme also has Amicus
Curiae speaking only of 'problems' of civic stress and river pollution due
to the land use violation, not of infringement of industrial units'
statutory entitlements to use of land and benefits of planned development.
I doubt if there is even an indirect correlation between commercial use of
industrial plots and increased river pollution. But, since the Plan has
adequate provisions for industries in industrial estates, flatted
factories and sensibly integrated (not haphazardly mixed) industrial space
in commercial and residential areas, there is no doubt whatsoever that it
is this and such 'stealing' from the kitty of industrial land' that has
driven industries in Delhi to 'illegal' options.
It is extremely obvious that what we have on hand in the matter of
industries in Delhi is a serious Plan implementation failure, not a
planning failure. Yet everyone seems keen on patchy alternative planning
experiments (that all can see are not working) and curiously indifferent
to the obvious solution of implementing statutory provisions for
developing industrial space and safeguarding it from misuse. DDA's
'justification' of its illegal scheme to permit commercial use of
industrial land on the grounds that 'since they were misusing it anyway,
the DDA should get a share in it' is especially alarming. Delhi
Development Act contemplates only one purpose for DDA's existence, viz, to
secure development of Delhi according to Plan. Public land is vested in
DDA only to help it along in this responsibility for equitable benefit for
all citizens, not for it to 'share' ill-gotten gains of misusers of public
land to the definite disadvantage of its legitimate beneficiaries. In all
the years that this matter has engaged the attention of the Court,
successive governments, media and the city, DDA has mislead all by keeping
the robust provisions of the Master Plan a 'secret' to 'cover up' its own
misuse of industrial space and misuse by others that it has treated with
benign neglect in abdication of its statutory responsibilities. Now that
the Court has asked DDA to place before it a plan of action against
misusers of industrial space, I would like to ask the following as a
planner and as a citizen:
(a) DDA's plan of action against misuse of industrial space must be
directed towards, besides penalising misusers, restoring benefits of
planned industrial development to intended beneficiaries. This is
necessary because Delhi Development Act does not contemplate penalising
misuse as a purpose in itself or for raising revenue for DDA. It endows
DDA with punitive powers only for pursuit of development according to
Plan, arguably to deliver entitlements thereunder.
(b) DDA's plan of action against misuse of industrial space must cover,
besides misuse by allottees of industrial plots, misuse by DDA of space
meant for flatted factories, units in commercial areas, etc.
Implementation failures on these counts are largely responsible for most,
especially small, units facing a shift-or-shut option in a case of
punishing victims while driving city economy in a direction it cannot
afford to take. DDA 'sharing' illegal benefits of private misusers are
amongst its lesser 'crimes' in the matter of industries and it would do
well to come clean comprehensively.
(c) DDA's plan of action must be informed with inputs (not experts'
opinions but planning data, since the Act requires a civic survey basis
for Plan making and the Plan a monitoring basis for Plan review) from the
expert-group on industries set up for the Master Plan revision that is
underway. This is necessary since the Act contemplates, by way of 'Plan',
according to which DDA must secure development, only Master Plan / Zonal
Plans. Any other 'scheme', 'plan' or 'plan of action' has no standing
unless embedded in these. (I am aware the expert group has been
inexplicably silent through the announcement, withdrawal, re-announcement,
etc, of DDA's illegal scheme. I hope, nevertheless, it will intervene
effectively at least now and that DDA will not, with its 'plan' of action,
try to mislead the Court, as it has done time and again, by obfuscating
levels of planning.)
(d) DDA's plan of action against misuse of industrial space must also
extend to misuse of public land for patchy planning alternatives to 'cover
up' misuse of planned industrial space. 'Relocation plans' that government
is trying and failing to ground are violative of Plan provisions for
location, types and sizes of industrial plots and relocation procedures,
besides its underlying concepts of balanced development and
residential-work linkages. (In mid-September at a bhagidari workshop with
industry associations the CM announced plans for housing 3000 workers even
as the relocation project will employ 1 lakh). And 'regularisation'
demands disregard Plan provisions for mixed use and area redevelopment.
Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has mandatory Plan modification process
been followed while proposing or permitting these departures from Plan.
Now that the Court has raised the issue of misuse of industrial space, it
is opportune to go one step further to position this as the key causal
factor in the problem of industries in places not meant for industries.
Not only will this, and this alone, lead to a durable solution, it might
also ensure that statutory provisions for industries are not downsized in
the on-going Plan revision and, perhaps, also that public faith in the
Plan, which has been considerably undermined in the matter of industrial
closures and relocation, will be somewhat restored. More importantly, this
will clear the entirely unjust confusing of culprits and victims that has
resulted from DDA's drift from its mandate in this matter. 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 serve vested interests at the cost of public interest.
I would like to mention I have raised these issues time and again by
writing about them professionally, also to DDA and MoUD - in 2000-2001
when the matter of industrial relocation took a vicious turn, in May 2002
when DDA announced its illegal scheme and when it was reported in August
2002 that process for cabinet approval for the same was underway. I find
it unfortunate that DDA and MoUD, custodians of the Master Plan, do not
respond to concerns about Plan violations and non-implementation without
court intervention. I hope I might have earned some 'benefit of doubt'
about my competence as a planner by virtue of having pointed out five
months earlier, through a letter to DDA VC on the very day this illegal
scheme was announced, what DDA has now conceded in court and more. And,
hence, I ask for MoUD to ensure that the opportunity provided by the
Court's intervention is used in the interest of planned development to put
the discussion on Delhi's industries, which has unfortunately drifted
towards chaos, back on course.
I look forward, as always, to a response to my letter.
Gita Dewan Verma
B.Arch (SPA, gold medalist); M.Planning (SPA, gold medalist); PG
Dip-Research (IHS-Rotterdam, top rank); Dip-Training (DoPT)
Formerly: Senior Fellow (HUDCO-HSMI), Visiting Faculty (SPA, TVB Habitat
Studies), Consultant (DfID, IHSP, Nuffic, UNICEF, etc)
Currently: Independent planning researcher and writer and planning
consultant to citizens' groups
cc: Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority
Secretary, Delhi Science Forum