While there is a large demand for affordable housing, scarce availability of land, and archaic government norms which were suited to the British era ensure that the available village land in Delhi which falls in Lal Dora can’t be used for building houses for the middle, and lower middle class. There are many villages in Delhi with large patches of extended Lal Dora land which is either lying unused or is being used for either parking or for storage purposes. In a city where land is scarce the wastage of this vital resource for non-productive purposes is nothing but criminal, and experts suggest that government should come forward and make laws that allow the use of these plots for creating affordable housing. A farmer in Kanjhawala in West Delhi told this correspondent that there were more than 800 plot owners in the Lal Dora in the village, and due to lack of clear policy this property has been lying unproductive. While earlier the plot sizes in Lal Dora in Delhi were smaller, the last land consolidation ensured that plots are of much larger size which can be used for building flats, apartments.
Ramesh Menon, Director, Certes Reality Limited, opines that on large plots the authorities should allow construction of multiple dwelling units which can be done by individual farmers, groups or with the help of developers. “In Gurgaon 50 to 60 apartments can be built on an acre of land, and if this norm is used then plots in Delhi which are of 2100 meter size could see construction of 20 to 25 units”, says Menon.
Experts say that apart from using the Land Pooling police, the authorities need to use innovative means to harness available land to create housing in the affordable segment as the maximum demand is going to come up in this space. In Delhi there are 170 to 180 villages which have huge chunk of land under Lal Dora which could be used for this purpose. A group of retired army JCOs who work in different private security firms in Delhi looking for land to build a group housing society tell that cost of land has gone beyond their means in most of the areas, and they had no option to look at plots in unauthorised colonies now. They also pointed to large number of Lal Dora plots in villages like Bijwasan which if properly used could help them in building good quality, and legal houses without any fear of demolition. Menon of Certes Reality Ltd favours the idea, and says if such projects are allowed in Lal Dora plots many firms including his company could come forward to ensure that affordable housing happens in Delhi. “The need is for favourable policies which incentivize the redevelopment process. Our company is ready to invest time, money, resources to help in the monetization of this huge alnd resource, and also create valuable housing for the people”, asserts Menon.
The importance of utilizing the Lal Dora has been emphasized by a government expert committee which recommended that mixed land use should be allowed in Lal Dora/Extended Lal Dora areas. It also called for allowing commercial activities on roads with certain widths, and flexibility to build retail and commercial real estate with certain provisions so that development could be streamlined in these villages. The villagers and buyers as such are waiting for the government to implement the recommendations made by the committee so that affordable housing in rural areas could become a reality in Delhi.