The decision to expand the boundaries of the National Capital Region by including three more districts — Bhiwani and Mahendergarh (Haryana) and Bharatpur (Rajasthan) — in its fold might have been taken to decongest Delhi by spurring economic growth in the region.
But urban planners feel that in reality achieving the desired result would be easier said than done.
They said the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) — which was constituted in the mid 80's to ensure planned development in the region — has somewhere down the line failed to achieve its mandate.
Prior to the inclusion of these three districts, the NCR covered 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh (5), Haryana (9) and Rajasthan (1).
Lack of coordination between states and poor enforcement of rules meant that economic integration within the region has remained mostly on paper. This has resulted in some NCR towns such as Noida and Gurgaon developing faster while others like Hapur in UP and Mewat in Haryana are lagging.
According to NCRPB's mandate, the Master Plan of each of the constituent districts have to be approved by the board before the work starts. But more often than not member states bypass the board and carry out development according to their will.
Take the case of Noida extension where lakhs of middle class homebuyers had to face harassment in 2011 after their properties got embroiled in land dispute.
Reason: Construction in those housing projects were stalled by the Allahabad High Court in 2011 as the Greater Noida Authority did not get the Master Plan of the region approved by the NCRPB before starting construction. They got a breather only after the court stepped in and the NCRPB approved the Master Plan last year.
"NCRPB neither has the funds nor the capacity to enforce its mandate. The key to making the NCR a contiguous area lies in bringing about uniformity in the physical and social infrastructure - there should be similar laws and integrated power, transport and housing sectors," said a planner, who did not want to be named.
Also, lack of political will has ensured that some states end up claiming more funds for financing infrastructure projects in their area.
Till March 2013, of the R18,994 crore loan disbursed by NCRPB, a majority — 72 % — has been claimed by Haryana. Uttar Pradesh has claimed 11%, while Rajasthan just 9 %. Delhi has claimed 5%.
"If states do not come up with proposals, we can't do anything," said an official requesting anonymity.