At public hearing, DDA’s ‘rush’ to amend Master Plan rules questioned
The administration’s ‘urgency’ to tweak laws dominated the discussions as the public hearing on the suggestions for the proposed amendments to the Delhi Master Plan 2021 began on Friday.
An umbrella body of 15 resident welfare associations (RWA) asked whether the stakeholders — the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the MCDs and the housing and urban affairs ministry — conducted any audit or a field survey to ascertain whether the relaxations that were allowed in the Master Plan after the last sealing drive in 2006 were implemented.
“What scientific methodology was used for calculation of conversion charges for provision of additional infrastructure necessitated due to extra FAR so that the burden of the cost does not fall on 1.5 crore citizens of Delhi by way of additional taxes,” the RWA delegation said in the ten-point charter.
The DDA had on February 2 proposed three amendments to the master plan — a uniform floor area ratio (FAR) for shop-cum-residential complexes, reduced penalties and regularising agricultural godowns. These amendments was aimed at providing relief from the crisis emerged due to the ongoing drive in markets across the city.
The associations, which included apex bodies like the Delhi RWA’s Joint Forum, Delhi Resident’s Forum and GK-1 RWA, wanted to know the steps taken to ensure that entry to local shopping centres do not disturb peace in residential areas and are suitably cordoned off for traffic.
Supervised by a Supreme Court-monitored committee, officials of three municipal corporations of Delhi are sealing shops and restaurants across markets of Delhi for either not misusing residential premise for commercial purposes or for unauthorised constructions.
Poonam Prakash, head department of physical planning, School of Planning and Architecture, said the way the amendments to the master plan were being made set a shocking precedence to subvert judicial processes and exclude citizens from the planning process contrary to the “citizen engagement”.
“The public notice appears to be published in a rush having been given only three days for filing out a response, out of which two days were holidays. This is either a typographical error, or there is a complete disregard to due process of plan modification,” she said.
The Union housing and urban affairs ministry had reduced the period for public scrutiny of changes in the master plan to three days from 45 days. After approving the amendments in the meeting, DDA had on February 2 given three days to receive public suggestions which was later extended by two days. The agency received over 129 suggestions, which have to be taken up in the hearing which will continue on Saturday.
The hearing that began at 2pm at DDA’s Nagrik Suvidha Kendra saw heated arguments between MLAs from ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Leader of Opposition Vijendra Gupta questioned why only three of the 37 AAP MLAs who had given a representation of suggestions to the proposals were present in the hearing.
“Taking traders for granted has become a norm for the AAP government ministers and MLAs. In the board of enquiry meeting to provide relief to traders against sealing 34 out of 37 MLAs including ministers like Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Imran Hussain and Saurabh Bhardwaj failed to show up,” he said.
In response, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said that the MLAs were not invited.
“Then, our MLAs have given their responses in written form. It is up to the DDA whether the changes should be incorporated,” he said.