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No happily ever after here

delhi Updated: Feb 22, 2010 00:43 IST
HT Correspondent

All of Delhi covets a DDA flat. Munirka or Rohini, Vikas Puri or Dilshad Garden, sized 110 sq m or 80, the concrete unit houses the aspiration of an entire city. A piece of affordable — the term is relative — real estate in a megapolis where a square feet of land can cost Rs 6 lakh.

That is why when the Delhi Development Authority — the oldest and biggest dream merchant of housing for the average Delhiite — opened up 5,000 flats for allotment two years ago, 13 lakh people jumped in the fray.

Such demand — not to mention desire — overwhelms questions.

No wonder not many have asked what happens after you get your fairytale ending.

Does a Delhiite and her DDA flat live happily ever after?

We put the question to hundreds of residents across Delhi. These are the stories we were told: Of crumbling buildings. Of seepage-swollen walls and flooded toilets. Of nothing in the name of parking and other supporting infrastructure. And above all, of the complete absence of accountability.

The residents do not have any one to turn to for their complaints: the dream merchant, having sold, has lapsed into an indifferent slumber.

Over the next five days we take you inside people’s homes and experiences at some of the well-known “colonies” built by the DDA – Delhi’s largest land-owning and development agency.

The DDA has alotted three lakh flats since 1968: turning them into homes has been akin to waging a never-ending battle for many.

Expert Speak

The problem is that when DDA made these flats, they didn’t have in mind the running of these buildings. It could have tried working out a financial or management system for the regular maintenance of these flats.

The situation is like that in buildings in the old part of Delhi or in Mumbai, where a building has multiple tenants and no one is responsible for lifts or stairs.

There should be some mechanism like the way private builders create a corpus of fund and the money from it goes into maintenance. The common areas should have been kept by DDA and it could have levied a fee or tax for maintenance. The Municipal Corporation too can charge a little bit extra house tax for maintenance of such public areas.

Ranjit Mitra, Director
School of Planning and Architecture

In states like UP and Punjab and cities like Mumbai, there is a legal structure through which the issue of maintenance and repair of apartments is addressed. DDA has never done that and that has resulted in such a mess.

UP has a law that specifies the maintenance and operations of apartments, how associations are to be formed, fixes responsibility, bylaws and rules.

In DDA flats, people collude with each other and build extra constructions.

All this occurred because there is no mechanism to protect common space. It is appalling that 55 years after the DDA act was created, there has been no amendment to it.

Sudhir Vohra, Architect
Urban law expert

There is a huge lacuna in the law governing the ownership of the flats, especially the public-use areas.

There are always some residents who do not want to pay for the maintenance or repair and there is nothing the RWAs can do about it.

One way to get around it is to make it legally mandatory for residents to form a residents’ welfare association that has to take care of these issues.

Over the years in Mumbai the sale or allotment deed started making it mandatory for residents to form such associations especially to take care of these issues.

There the law also empowers the Association to penalize anyone who does not chip in to the upkeep of the building’s common infrastructure.

Kuldip Singh, Architect
Town planner