A high-level committee set up to “revisit and redraft the Delhi Development Act, 1957” has called for a complete overhaul of Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) role, which has limited itself to just a “developer” rather than a “facilitator and a regulator.”
Set up last year by the ministry of urban development (UD) ministry, the five-member committee, headed by former home secretary Madhukar Gupta, slammed the agency for the unplanned growth in the city, which resulted in mushrooming of slums and unauthorised colonies.
The panel said that DDA should disentangle itself from its “day-to-day preoccupation” with matters related to “land and property management.”
It has recommended transferring DDA land, which the agency doesn’t require or cannot be utilised for its projects, to agencies under Delhi government. “…particularly those under slums/jhuggi jhompri clusters should be transferred to Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DSUIB), the nodal agency for dealing with this subject, on as is where is basis,” the report says. The DSUIB comes under Delhi government.
The panel has also called for transferring powers and responsibilities related to lease administration of industrial estates to municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) or Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation “to enable more effective management and development” of such areas. There are 27 industrial estates in Delhi, a majority of which are with DDA.
The report – that has not been made public – comes at a crucial time. Delhi chief minister Kejriwal has had several run-ins with the Centre since he came to power in 2015 over the state government’s limited say in running the city.
If the government accepts the report, Delhi government can have a bigger representation with 12 members on the DDA board as the report has called for a bigger representation of the city government on DDA board. All policies for Delhi’s development, including its Master Plan, have to be approved by the board. Currently, Delhi government and MCD have just seven members.
The city government could also have a bigger say in planning Delhi’s transport needs. The committee recommended setting up a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority, jointly managed by Centre and Delhi government with more power to the latter. The Delhi government has, for years, pushed for setting up of Delhi Urban Mass Transit Authority to coordinate between city transport department and traffic police but the proposal was nixed by Centre.
In perhaps one of the most stringent criticism of the functioning of the Capital’s land-owning agency, the report highlights how DDA’s focus on commercial gains came at the cost of poor development.
“Over a period of time, DDA, in its quest to get over financial constraints, appears to have started focusing on the development of lands and properties for disposal at market prices, which inevitably also shifted its focus towards commercial gain. This, while resulting in accumulation of investible funds, progressively did not lead to spurring the level and speed of development as per the required procedure,” the report says.