At DDA office, you tout it out | delhi | Hindustan Times
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At DDA office, you tout it out

Even as Delhi goes about putting up its make-up before the Commonwealth Games, certain shades of grey—red tape, tardy babus, bribes—still linger.

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2010 00:14 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Why this series

Even as Delhi goes about putting up its make-up before the Commonwealth Games, certain shades of grey—red tape, tardy babus, bribes—still linger.

The moot question here is: Can just brick and mortar changes make Delhi a world-class city? Not really.

The common man is still at the receiving end, no matter what happens. Corruption is rife in DDA and little has changed at MCD and it’s tough to lodge an FIR for a lost mobile phone. Will the world-class tag bring in changes in these attitudes?
In this six-part series, HT looks at six prominent public dealing departments, what ails these departments and how, if possible, these departments are planning to change things.

In the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), time moves at its own sweet, slow pace. And in order to get your work down, you need an athlete’s stamina and a monk’s patience.

Nearly 50 years after it was established in 1957, the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) has come out with a grand vision for 2010: to become a “high performance and people friendly” organisation. The mission comes not a year too soon for the land development agency.

DDA, which refers to itself as the city’s ninth builder, touches the life of almost every second Delhiite.

Since its inception, DDA has either created or facilitated more than 1 million dwelling units to date. These include allotment of more than 3 lakh flats, plots to Cooperative Group Housing Societies and residential plots. This is apart from the construction of 600 big and small commercial centres and allotment of industrial and institutional plots.

This means, the DDA’s dreary and dusty file-laden headquarter, Vikas Sadan, gets nearly 700 visitors daily.

Owning a property in Delhi is not easy. What explains the crowd thronging the DDA offices is the affordable rates at which it sells flats and plots. But, getting a DDA flat or plot is tough. What’s even tougher is getting the possession letters, getting the property converted from leasehold to freehold or changing the title deeds.

In the labyrinthine corridors of the DDA, the journey of your file begins at one table and then meanders through almost all the tables in the complex. This journey in the Vikas Sadan can take anything from a month to years. The DDA babus take ages to move files and the smallest lacunae in your documents can slow the process by months.

DDA’s citizen’s charter promises disposal of transactions a specific time frame of between 15 and 90 days. These promises, however, remain cosily embedded in the glossy booklet.

This is where the touts come in.

For a handsome fee—anything between Rs 40,000 to Rs 1 lakh—depending on the ‘complexity’ of your case, touts can speed up the process of getting your job done. Thanks to DDA’s initiatives to curb the tout menace, these assistants-for-hire can now be found lingering in the parking lots and small photostat shops and eateries outside Vikas Sadan.

“We can get any job done as we have a ‘setting’ with officials inside the building,” says a tout, who doesn’t wish to be identified. “The rates have gone up though as DDA has become stricter about these things now.”

“Unless you have deep pockets, getting your application approved from the DDA is next to impossible,” says Umesh Sharma (name changed on request), who has been trying to transfer his flat from his father’s name, who died many years ago, to his own for the past six years. “Every official expects to be bribed and you have to grease many palms.”

“The officials say the property we bought for a few thousands decades ago will now sell for lakhs but they don’t stand to gain anything from it,” he said. “If you are transferring a property to your name or converting it from leasehold to freehold to sell it, they want their share,” Sharma said.