The Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) is soon going to initiate site-specific studies in the Capital for the rehabilitation of unauthorized colonies and slums, rejuvenation of Delhi's gardens and development of high-rises along metro corridors.
Set up in 1973, DUAC is a statutory body which advises the Government of India on preserving, developing and maintaining the aesthetic quality of urban design in Delhi. Though mostly known for approving or rejecting proposals on structures that might affect the skyline or aesthetic quality of Delhi, DUAC is now going to take a more active role in planning and designing of Delhi's urban spaces.
The commission has already initiated the process of roping in experts from the fields of architecture, town planning and urban designing as consultants. It had submitted a proposal and sought Rs. 100 crore from the union urban development ministry to undertake these projects that includes site-specific design for wards and a vision for Delhi, apart from projects on improvement of slums, gardens and development of high rises along metro corridors.
Civic agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) are unhappy with the DUAC's plan and believes it is 'overstepping its mandate'. "Developing pilot projects or conducting such studies is already being done by other agencies and DUAC should limit its role as an advisory body instead of hiring consultants to undertake projects," said a senior DDA official, who did not wish to be named.
"The DUAC was created by an Act of Parliament with a clear mandate. If it wants to don a new role, the Act should be amended first," he said.
DUAC chairman Raj Rewal said it would get experts to work with them and come up with urban designs that could be followed by civic bodies. "We want urban spaces to be more lively and worth living in. Our approach would not be top down but from the viewpoint of people living in slums,” he said.
AK Jain, DDA's former Commissioner (Planning), however, feels that there is no harm if DUAC takes up studies or projects to advise civic bodies on urban renewal.
"DUAC has undertaken such studies earlier too and there is nothing wrong if that eventually helps in redevelopment of the city," Jain said. "It was a study by DUAC in the 1980s, which showed that concrete overhead water tanks, should be preferably placed underground like reservoirs," he said.