A vision for Delhi-2041
The draft Master Plan of Delhi (MPD)-2041, which was put up for public scrutiny on Wednesday, envisages building sustainable infrastructure that will help the national Capital reduce local sources of pollution such as dust from construction sites and vehicular emissions. It also aims to redevelop the city’s “green and blue” assets by protecting forest cover, rejuvenating the Yamuna and preserving its flood-plains, securing and recharging other water bodies, and restricting development near and on such ecologically critical sites. MPD also aspires to tackle the depleting number of trees (Delhi is yet to have a tree census) and identify unique tree corridors or precincts, heritage trees, precincts with high carbon storage, and sequestration rates. The document, which will provide a “strategic” and “enabling” framework to guide the growth of the city till 2041, builds on the lessons learnt from implementation of the previous plans of 1962, 2001 and 2021. The Delhi Development Authority is the anchor agency for MPD.
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The draft plan has, rightly, focussed on environmental degradation and mitigating strategies. According to the planning department of the city, Delhi’s top environmental concerns include pollution of all kinds — air (especially in the winter months), water, domestic and industrial wastewater, and vehicular — and lack of adequate solid and hospital waste management. Then there is the climate crisis, which is impacting weather patterns and turning the Capital into an urban heat island. All of this is having a deeply detrimental impact on public health and well-being.
Delhi is not just the national Capital. It is a key economic hub and a centre for students, young professionals and poor migrant workers, among others. MPD is forward-looking and acknowledges that the city’s environmental crisis could impact its economic growth, make it less attractive for citizens and new talent, and negatively impact its human development indicators. Once cleared, the real challenge of MPD will be the implementation of the plans and their monitoring. A recent analysis shows that 43 of the world’s 100 most environmentally vulnerable cities are in India. Delhi has been ranked the second-highest risk city in the world (after Jakarta). India’s growth trajectory is increasingly being defined by cities that contribute 60% of GDP. Therefore, they must be made future-ready, and the best way to do that is by weaving in environmental resilience into their development plans, as many world cities are doing. MPD’s focus on green and blue assets can be a beneficial template for other Indian cities.
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