Civil society members seek to extend 45-day deadline for raising objections
Citing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, civil society members want the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to extend the deadline for submitting suggestions or objections to the draft Master Plan of Delhi-2041 (MPD-2041).
While DDA officials said there are no plans to extend the deadline, they said the land-owning body is planning public interactions to clear the air regarding the implementation of MPD-2041. Civil society members too have demanded awareness campaigns by DDA in slum clusters and unauthorised colonies to tell people about the provisions of the draft plan.
As per the DDA’s MPD-2041 notification dated June 9, suggestions and objections have to be submitted within 45 days (July 24). While the 45-day period is in accordance to the DDA Act which mandates a period of 30-45 days for receiving objections and suggestions, civil society members said the pandemic and ensuing restrictions is ground for extending the deadline.
Mukta Naik, a fellow at Centre for Policy Research, said, “This is the critical time when we want to take the proposal back to informal settlements and various workers’ groups and unions. Tell them about the provisions and help them fill up the forms. It is difficult to mobilise people during the pandemic due to the restrictions, especially in 45 days. It is important to get the views of the people who are in majority in the city.”
It is learnt that the DDA is planning public interaction sessions to clear doubts related to the draft plan. A senior DDA official said, “We will explain or clear doubts related to the draft plan before they submit their suggestions/objections.”
Stressing on the need to extend the deadline for submission from 45 days to six months, Shalakha, coordinator of Main Bhi Dilli, a campaign aimed at making planning in Delhi more representative and inclusive, said, “It is not just the pandemic, people are struggling with related crises like unemployment, homelessness, lack of food, education and financial insecurity. If the duration is not extended, then the draft would lack views and suggestions/objections from the public.”
She said that as the entire consultation process is going to be online this time, those living in informal settlements will not be able to participate. “Last year, only a few could join the consultation meetings organised by the DDA due to technical barriers. To ensure maximum participation, it is important that on-ground consultation meetings are organised by DDA officials with all the Covid precautionary norms so that people do not face any technical and language barrier,” said Shalakha.
Shakeel Abdul, convener of Basti Suraksha Manch, said, “The present provision will only ensure limited participation from people. There is a need to have on-ground consultations, especially with people in the informal settlements. There are provisions related to rental housing, in-situ redevelopment etc, which impacts these people directly. Before they can give their suggestions, there is a need to create awareness about the MPD-2041.”
A senior DDA official said, “People can also manually submit their suggestions/objections with the DDA. So far, there is no plan to extend the duration.”