NEW DELHI: A largest-ever housing scheme in its history offering over 25,000 flats across categories and a curious case of "ghost employees" on its roster kept DDA in news in 2014.
The housing authority attracted the attention of both the masses and the media, for bringing innovative techniques in the flagship scheme, but not without its share of criticism.
Among other innovations, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) brought the facility of making its official website "disabled-friendly", ie making it accessible for visually-impaired.
The website had facility for colour-blind people, to change the colour of foreground and background, which drew appreciation from online users.
But more than finding the lucky winners in its housing scheme, it was the mystery of "missing employees" of the housing authority that made DDA hog the headlines.
In September, DDA reported that over of its 1,600 employees were still unaccounted for. According to its top officials, DDA has about 15,600 employees in its employee database and efforts were on to reconcile the remaining "missing figures".
"We are looking into the matter and efforts are on to get to the bottom of this apparent inconsistency. Mystery is deepening and we are not ruling out anything. These unaccounted 1,600 could be ghost employees, we don't know yet," DDA vice-chairman Balvinder Kumar had then said.
The 'DDA Housing Scheme 2014', launched on September 1 saw such an overwhelming response that the urban body's website crashed within few hours of its launch and totalled about 18 lakh hits in the first few days, prompting authorities to ramp up the system to "handle the exponential rise in online traffic".
The new scheme, offered 25,034 flats - EWS, LIG, MIG, HIG, Janta flats and one-room apartments, ranging in prices from Rs 7 lakh to Rs 1.2 crore, and closed on October 15. Among them, the 22,627 one-bed room apartments were a major draw for the people.
While DDA managed to upgrade its server to cope with the increased pressure till the submission of application forms, it was the draw of lots that "drew flak" from people, for its "repeated delays" owing to "technical constraints".
The DDA introduced the facility of webcasting online the entire process of the draw which decided the fate of over 10 lakh applicants.
Kumar called the scheme the "biggest challenge of his career".
"It tested our capabilities and the challenge is not over even thought the scheme is closed. Even after allotment, the maintenance and furnishing of other features will be something that would keep us on our toes," Kumar told PTI.
But, DDA which fight a "negative image" in people's mind, during its draw faced some allegations of "discrepancies in the result", prompting it to announce a scrutiny into the applications of the allotees.
DDA had initially set the tentative date for the draw as November 5, but postponed it to November 17. However, it failed to hold the draw on November 17 after trial runs were unable to wrap up the whole process within two hours.
The housing authority reportedly faced problems in dealing with the large number of application forms, numbering over 10 lakh.
While the response to the scheme was rather "lukewarm", which the officials ascribed to the "five-year lock-in period mandated on the ownership of the flat", the popularity of DDA flats among the masses and middle class alike cannot be underestimated, as even after the closure of the scheme, it continues to be in the news.