Developing Delhi vertically is neither scientific nor in line with the character of the city, say planning experts.
Commenting on Union urban development minister Kamal Nath's idea of vertical growth of the city, they said housing in the capital city should avoid following models of Singapore and Shanghai.
"The call for vertical development is just a response to siege mentality or aspirations to emulate cities like Singapore or Shanghai, which have vertical developments. Other than this, I can see no reason why the honourable minister even started this debate," planning and architecture expert AGK Menon said.
He was speaking at a discussion on Wednesday on "Should Delhi Go Vertical", organised by the NGO Toxics Link.
Menon said often people think that the influx of people from other states is flooding the city, giving rise to a siege mentality, but around 60% of the population increase in Delhi is natural growth.
He said even if the law has removed the height limitation for buildings, the sustainable density of Delhi was 60 housing units per acre of land and "even resources like water cannot be provided easily to high-rise buildings".
Menon suggested that instead of trying to blindly emulate other cosmopolitan cities, urban planners and policymakers should focus on better population management policies.
Social activist BS Tripathi claimed high-rise developments were already undermining the ecosystems in and around the capital, citing the rampant land use in the Aravalli mountain range as a major issue.
He pointed out that the mountain range "is the only thing that prevents the sands of Rajasthan from blowing northwards and reducing the capital to a desert".
Former cabinet minister Jagmohan, however, claimed the issue was larger than just high-rise developments and cited widespread corruption, vested interests and political motives.
"Our approach is that this problem is a localized wound which can be bandaged and plastered. However, these issues are politically driven and arise from utter lawlessness and corruption in society," he said.
"When 80% of the population lives on $2 per day, how can we think of aping the developed world in infrastructure development without addressing our basic problems?" he asked.