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- Good News for Delhiites …
Yesterday (i.e. 8 Feb 07) Urban Development Minister Mr. Jaipal Reddy has signed the much awaited new Master Plan for Delhi-2021 and gave big relief to the business men or shopkeepers and also regularising 1500 unauthorised colonies. But is it really good for Delhi….
Have a look on this article published at Asiantribune.com by Atul Cowshish with the title of "Master plan Delhi or master fraud"Anyone who has been familiar with Delhi long enough to see the city’s decline from being a leisurely city of Babus of broad tree-lined avenues and residential districts surrounded by vast green spaces to the urban chaos that it has become today will perhaps only scoff at all the hullabaloo being raised over the latest Master Plan Delhi, which came into force on Feb 8, 2007. The Plan is designed to meet the urban needs till 2021.Is there any reason to believe that it will be the sole guide to developing Delhi?
Certainly not when the previous two Master Plans were so mercilessly mutilated or shown utter contempt by those who constitute ‘authority’ in the national capital—a cabal of not just influential politicians and bureaucrats, corrupt, inefficient and men and women without a vision, but also corrupting colonisers and builders. But let us be frank, a section of the citizens who think nothing of breaking rules to further self-interest and know nothing about the soul or the character of a city have also been joint stock holders in the crime against Delhi.
Which of these partners will be struck by guilt? If greed remains their driving force, what change of heart can be expected of politicians and bureaucrats? Politician craves for votes for which he would gladly close his eyes and ears and allows laws to be circumvented. The population pressure on land has been a real boon for the builders and the colonisers who happily bribe their way through the phalanx of inconvenient building laws to fast climb into the billionaires club.
Shockingly, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), has also proved to be no better than a land shark. And the citizens? Well, Delhi would not have fallen into the abyss that it has without the indifference of the majority of its citizens.
A great number, if not the majority, of shopkeepers and others who are upset by the so-called sealing drive had set up business without legal sanction. If they faced any obstacles initially they surmounted them by greasing the palms of the Babus and the local netas. There are perhaps in excess of 500,000 shops in Delhi which have to shift business to authorised places. How many will eventually?
Such is the pressure from a section of the population that the civic body had to take recourse to all methods to declare hundreds of roads in residential areas of Delhi as one of ‘mixed land use’ and, hence, ‘authorised’ to run businesses and trades. These are roads that have an uneasy coexistence of living quarters and bustling commercial activities. The new Master Plan may threaten to stop assigning the ‘mixed use’ tag to more roads or certain residential areas but the bigger question is who will monitor that?
Court intervention or judicial activism is only partially reassuring. It can halt a wrong process for some time, not for long. The apex court’s pronouncement that it has the jurisdiction to review all laws of the land and thus assume powers to overrule what our elected representatives legislate has set the entire political class on fire. ‘Who can question our decision?’ seems to be the message from our ‘Netas’ and so don’t pin too much hopes on the statute books.
In any case, the mess in Delhi is largely the result of daylight defiance of the existing laws and the Master Plan. For instance, where was the monitoring mechanism when shops and commercial buildings started to replace houses on or facing ‘main roads’ in purely residential complexes, the roads that carry bulk traffic? And whose houses were being converted illegally? The building by-laws expressly prohibited the conversion of their houses into commercial establishments.
There were, of course, citizens who had bought the plot for the expressed purpose of building a nest for the family. And why did these people sell their houses or allowed them to be transformed into commercial buildings? Simple, the offer from the buyer was too tempting. The buyer was sure that even if he or she had paid a fortune for the acquisition the turnover will be sufficient to offset the large sum doled out for the purchase or hiring of the property located in ‘prime’ place—large population in the vicinity and proximity to the centre of the city.
In Delhi, and undoubtedly the rest of urban India, an aversion to travelling either for work, shopping or business can be attributed to the near absence of reasonable and reliable public transport. Delhi’s urban transport system is shamelessly inadequate and appalling. Whether it will improve to match ‘world standards’ by 2010, is anybody’s guess!
But transport is not the only reason for concentration of business places in ‘unauthorised’ areas in the city. A large city Delhi needs constant upgrading of civic amenities but in Delhi even the rudimentary facilities have been in a state of neglect for at least 35 years. There was a time when Delhi’s roads, wide and well swept, were the envy of the rest of the country, taps were never dry and electricity cuts were rare. Incidentally, large parts of Delhi were also a mosquito free. The younger generation in Delhi and the new comers to the city can hardly believe all that.
The composition of Delhi, a class-conscious city, seems to have become more fragmented with pockets where services and amenities are available in controlled but varying degrees. That is to say there are areas where there may be no power cuts or may last an hour or so against those where a day’s power supply may be restricted to an hour or so. Ditto for water supply and so on!
Nearly half of Delhi is severely handicapped service wise. The slums and many outlying areas where denial of amenities is sanctioned by law because they are termed ‘unauthorised’ or ‘illegal colonies’. Come election time and many of them get ‘regularised’, irrespective of what the Master Plan has to say. And an election in Delhi is round the corner.CommentQuote0Flag