NEW DELHI: Union urban development minister KamalNath on Monday injected a sense of urgency into the entire process of review of the city's master plan by insisting that vertical development was the only way to go and that "planning has to be driven by market forces". Speaking at a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) workshop on 'Review of Master Plan of Delhi 2021', he said if there were no high-rises, slums would proliferate in the city.
That the infrastructure is groaning under the weight of increasing numbers and quality of life deteriorating in the cramped lanes of once upmarket colonies didn't seem to weigh too much on the minister's mind. That power and water are scarce - Dwarka is a stark example - also doesn't seem to be a deterrent in this skyward thrust. A reality check would have shown that such concerns had put a question mark over even the third floor approved under the master plan. The matter is still in court.
Experts have also pointed out that Delhi is located in Seismic Zone IV and underlined that only through risk assessment studies and a development plan which has a mix of high and low-rise buildings can the city survive.
The minister's business-like approach, however, seems to have put the entire process on the fast track. It's likely to be finalized much before the December deadline. Sources said lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna has asked officials dealing with people's suggestions and objections to submit a draft with latest inclusions by October 15. The final plan is likely to be announced before Diwali. That the government is likely to allow more floor area ratio (FAR) for larger properties will cheer developers and owners of big plots.
The workshop was also attended by urban development secretary Sudhir Krishna, DDA vice-chairman S K Srivastava and Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) chairperson Raj Rewal.
About the urban mess, Kamal Nath said, "It is not necessarily bad enforcement, it is bad planning...What will you enforce? How can you enforce (in) 1,600 irregular colonies? Tell me who is going to enforce? Perhaps we are the only country in the world which had to bring in a legislation, Delhi Special Laws, saying we were going to regularize. What is this a tribute to? It is a tribute to bad planning."
The minister said the concept of National Capital Region had increased the load on the capital with people living here, working in NCR and vice-versa. "Why should we not have high-rises? If we don't have it, we make it a city of slums. Where is the choice?" he said. He said everyone wanted large open spaces but the ground realities had to be factored in.
DUAC chief Raj Rewal, however, sounded a note of caution. He said highrise development should be site-specific, citing examples of government proposals for Kidwai Nagar and Srinivaspuri as instances where vertical growth did not work. He also referred to a proposal for highrise development adjacent to Vishwavidyalaya Metro station. DUAC had serious objections and rejected all three proposals