‘DDA’s slum rehab plan a non-starter’
Two DDA officials aware of the matter said that in the past two years the agency had issued tenders for 10 projects to provide affordable housing to nearly 22,000 people living in slums clusters in various parts of the city.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has not been able to been implement any in-situ (in the same place) slum redevelopment project in the past decade.
Two DDA officials aware of the matter said that in the past two years the agency had issued tenders for 10 projects to provide affordable housing to nearly 22,000 people living in slums clusters in various parts of the city. But, it was no able to award work for any of the 10 projects due to poor response from the developers, the officials said.
Of the 10 projects, the land-owning agency received bids only for six but the work couldn’t be awarded as the developers asked DDA for financial assistance.
Some of these projects are located in Dilshad Garden, Shalimar Bagh, Rohini, Pooth Kalan, Haiderpur, Okhla Industrial area, Vasant Kunj and Kalkaji.
The failure of the agency is significant in the light of findings by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), which is its latest report that was released on Wednesday, has said that close to 207,000 people were evicted from their homes in India in 2021, including 13,750 people who were evicted during the peak of the second wave of Covid in April and May.
Around 59% of the evicted people have not been resettled or received compensation from the government agencies, the report titled Forced Eviction in India in 2021.
A senior DDA official who asked not to be named said, “In the past few years, a lot of changes have been made in the policy to ensure increased participation from private concessionaires without compromising on the interest of slum residents. But we have not got a good response. Developers want DDA to provide financial assistance to the tune of ₹100-200 crore or more depending on the location of the projects, in addition to the remunerative component. Now, this is not possible. We invited bids for the projects after doing a detailed analysis, including financial viability.”
It is through the remunerative component, which is 40% of the total area, that developers recover the cost of the in-situ project and provide houses to slum dwellers at affordable rates. In 2020, the land-owning agency allowed private developers involved in in-situ redevelopment projects under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to decide the type of development in the remunerative component.
A senior DDA official said, “In the past few years, some major changes have been made to the policy such as the Floor Area Ratio has been increased from 200 to 300 so that developers can recover their cost. To ensure that slum residents don’t suffer, we have introduced a provision that the developer will have to either pay ₹6,000 per month to each beneficiary or give them accommodation in transit camps, among other changes.”
Currently, there are three in-situ redevelopment projects by DDA at Kathputli Colony, Jailorwala Bagh and Kalkaji Extension. All the three projects were conceived before 2010, though work on Kathputli Colony started in April 2018.
While the construction work at Kathputli Colony and Jailorwala Bagh are likely to be completed by the end of this year, the land-owning agency has started the process to allot flats to slum residents in Kalkaji Extension.
A senior DDA official said, “Of the 1,862 beneficiaries, 1,575 have been allotted flats at Kalkaji extension. The proposal to start the allotment to 1,640 beneficiaries at Jailorwala Bagh was approved recently at a meeting chaired by Delhi lieutenant governor VK Saxena (who is also the chairman of DDA). At Kathputli Colony, 700 flats in three blocks are almost ready.”
Civil society members and land rights activists, however, said there is no active participation of the slum residents in the DDA rehabilitation projects.
Shakeel Ahmed, convener of Basti Suraksha Manch, an anti-eviction organisation,said, “In all the projects that DDA or any other agency is planning, there is no community participation. There is a need to first identify the requirement of the community before planning any redevelopment project.”
After receiving a poor response to its slum redevelopment projects, the DDA has asked the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) to review and suggest changes in the existing in-situ slum redevelopment policy to make the projects viable.
Hitesh Vaidya, Director of NIUA, said they are studying various models to assess what has worked best in different contexts.
“In-situ is a good idea for rehabilitation of slums, but one-size-fits all approach will not work. Cities will need to explore a wide spectrum of initiatives ranging from community-led upgradation, provision of basic services and area improvement, to PPP models for slum rehabilitation. A nuanced strategy is being proposed for Delhi that can provide customised solutions for different sites, address the complex living-working relationships and social networks of slum clusters, as well as make projects financially viable and attractive for private investment,” said Vaidya.