Greater Kailash-I was the Capital’s first residential locality to be developed by a private player. Prime location, bustling markets and well planned blocks made it one of the most happening localities of the city. The colony has come to be known for its bustling markets in M and N blocks besides well-planned houses. However, over the last decade the area has been ridden with multiple civic problems. HT South Delhi traced the colony’s journey over six decades.
How it began
Greater Kailash-I was once an agricultural land that gave rich Kharif yields. From both the villages — Zamrudpur and Devli Gaon— the land of GK , spread over hundreds of acres, was owned by around 90 farmers. It was acquired by the Centre under a large scale land acquisition plan in 1955. In 1959, the land was handed over to DLF to carve out a colony. This was probably for the first time that the Delhi administration had granted such permission in the city to a private real estate firm. According to revenue records, GK-I was known as Yakutpur village which was later renamed. “Greater Kailash was among the five colonies which were set up by a private colonizer then. At that time, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had not come into existence. The permission was granted by Land and Building Department of Delhi Administration. The area was perhaps named Greater Kailash because of an old Shiva temple situated on a hillock there,” said AK Jain, commissioner (Planning), DDA.
Despite being developed by a private player, the locality remained isolated due to poor housing demand. It was in the ’70s that the free hold status of the colony and proximity to prestigious institutes like IIT, JNU and AIIMS brought working class residents here.
“When the land was earmarked for a colony, compensation rates were better than rest of Delhi areas. Because of this, the farmers sold their lands and shifted to the villages of Haryana,” said Hans Raj, 73, a farmer of Zamrudpur.
The residential colony and M block market were developed at the same time by the real estate developer. However, at that time the market used have shops on the ground floor and homes on the first floor. This changed when the market was fully commercialised in 2010.
A local real estate agent said that in the early ’60s, the rate of 300 square yard (sqy) land was Rs 45,000 whereas now a square yard in GK costs Rs 4 lakh approximately. The rise in property rates took place in 1998, when ‘builder culture’ came in and people allowed these developers to convert plotted houses into multi-storeyed buildings with flats.
The opening of some guest houses and offices here led to commercialisation of the residential area. Over the last five years, several houses have been converted for commercial purposes while the residents have shifted to areas like Gurgaon and Noida.
Spread of civic mess
What was once a planned locality is now a civic mess. Beauty expert Shahnaz Hussain who opened her first herbal salon here 1971 said the locality was once one of the most organised places in Capital. “I have been living in GK-I for about 45 years. It was one of the most organised places in Delhi, now many problems have come up. Sometimes there are long traffic jams just to enter the market. It needs to be managed,” she said.
Residents also point out that commercialisation is one of the root causes of problems here as it has put more pressure on the limited civic resources of the area. “Commercialisation is rising in GK-I and authorities are not keeping a check. Earlier, there were only three guest houses, now houses in each lane have been converted into guest houses,” said Bimal Kapoor, general secretary of GK-I RWA.
Parking in the area is also a big challenge. To resolve the problem, the civic agency had planned a multi-level parking lot near
M block, but the authorities are yet to take a call on the project.
In all the eight blocks of the colony, lanes have not been blacktopped for the last four years. As the infrastructure is old, sewage pipelines have burst at various stretches.