A plan in peril
A suggestion to the Union government: let’s do away with the Delhi Master Plan altogether and put an end to the charade of planning the orderly development of a world-class city. Going by the Master Plan 2021 document, cleared by the Delhi Development Authority on Friday, the great plan for one of the fastest growing cities in the world is to choke it even further. The political aim is clear: to smoothen the ruffled feathers of traders and others directly affected by the Supreme Court’s orders to seal all unauthorised structures. So, illegal colonies will be legalised, unauthorised constructions regularised, and commercial activity in residential areas permitted. Besides, the vertical limits to Delhi’s growth will be eased significantly. The end result: a boost to the powerful builder lobby and the corrupt government machinery.
The last two Master Plans have been colossal failures. Neither did they create adequate housing facilities nor the requisite infrastructure to meet the needs of an ever-expanding metropolis. Besides, Delhi has also gained the reputation of being one of the most polluted cities in the world.
According to certain demographic estimates, by 2020, Delhi will be the third-largest urban area in the world, after only Tokyo and Mumbai, and with an approximate population of 25.83 million. This makes it imperative to put into place an efficient urban policy that will meet civic needs as well as protect our cultural and environmental assets. Considering that the city also stands on a seismically active zone, the current policy of protecting illegal buildings by including them in the Master Plan has the potential of leading us towards a man-made disaster of frightening proportions. Creating buffers in the case of earthquakes will prove even more crucial if Delhi’s buildings are to be allowed to reach skywards. It is time political parties stopped pandering to vested interests and to their vote-banks in this context. They must get down to dealing with all these glitches if Delhi is to become a truly world-class city.