The longest ever Cabinet meeting on a single issue in the last 13 years ended on Monday with the Delhi government set to send its recommendations on the Master Plan 2021 to the Union Urban Development Ministry (UDM) on Tuesday.
Officials said there were four Cabinet meetings on different days lasting around nine hours to discuss the MPD. "Ever since Delhi got statehood in 1993, this was the longest Cabinet meeting on a single issue," said a senior official.
Keeping the political ramifications in mind, the legislators too had debated the MPD for 11 hours in the Delhi Assembly and suggested 126 points for the central government.
The Cabinet has now brought them down to 120 points and deleted certain suggestions which were impractical or legally not possible. All the six Cabinet ministers along with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit discussed and thrashed all the points before approving it.
"We want to address the problems like ceilings and demolitions. We are sending the proposals to the Centre for its approval," Dikshit told reporters after the marathon Cabinet meeting.
Delhi government's vision for the MPD is carried in Dikshit's forwarding letter to Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy and the Administrator of Delhi AR Kidwai.
Sheila said the MPD should be "manageable and shorter". She also complained that the MPD gives all powers to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and has not delegated it to the state government.
The chief minister pointed out that in the last MPD, only 11 of the 15 zonal plans were finalised and none of the local plans saw the light of the day. She said that unless these plans too were finalised at the earliest, the purpose of MPD would be defeated.
The Delhi government's view is that MPD only has guidelines and this becomes difficult to amend even if changes come about in the ground realities of the city.
"The guidelines should be flexible and not rigid as in the MPD," said a government official.
As the MPD is a law on land planning in the city, the court interprets it accordingly. Dikshit wants it to be a vision document for the city rather than a document which is difficult to interpret and follow.