MPD needs tuning, operational guidelines to work
NEW DELHI: Three years and more than 100 amendments later, the revised Master Plan for Delhi 2021 (MPD-2021) is nearly ready. While the Centre will soon notify provisions for transit-oriented development (TOD) and the environment, some amendments have already been implemented.
But is MPD-2021 a feasible plan? How much of it has been implemented? Does it really address the pressing concerns of the city and provide a realistic vision for sustainable development? Is it in sync with the ground realities? These are some of the questions on Delhi’s mind.
Experts say many features of MPD-2021 have remained on paper for reasons ranging from the multiplicity of authorities in the city to poor enforcement and planning by the agencies concerned and the presence of many unauthorized colonies, slums, resettlement colonies and villages. Urban planners and experts TOI spoke to said the city needs operational guidelines to implement the MPD and these should be a part of the document.
The failure of civic and government agencies to prepare a local area plan (LAP) even after eight years is an example of the complications in the way of MPD-2021. The erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi had made an LAP for some municipal wards but it was never notified as MCD said it didn’t have the powers to notify it while DDA insisted only MCD could notify it. “Due to this technical discrepancy, there is no approved LAP which is critical for any area’s development. Operational guidelines will help in overcoming such discrepancies and help in faster implementation of the plan,” said Sanjukta Bhaduri, head of the department of urban planning in School of Planning and Architecture who prepared some of the LAPs.
Experts say the MPD is good as a ‘vision document’ as it provides for sustainable development with provisions like TOD, land pooling and stress on conservation of heritage and the environment, but some of its provisions are not in sync with ground realities.
More than 60% of Delhi’s population lives in unauthorized colonies, rural and urban villages and unauthorized regularized colonies. The document doesn’t dwell much on the development needs of the people living in these areas. “Regularization of unauthorized colonies can’t happen as per the terms and conditions of the present master plan. Building plans can’t be sanctioned here as per the MPD. These colonies have come up illegally. There is a need to have different norms for them,” said urban planner A G K Menon.
As a result, even “people-friendly” features like sub-division and amalgamation of plots haven’t worked. Sub-division of plots was allowed in unauthorized regularized (UR) colonies, but it has not found any takers as the permitted floor-area ratio (FAR) is based on the plot’s original size. “In most cases, the FAR has already been used up by people living on the sub-divided plots so fresh construction cannot be carried out on the vacant portion of the plot. This has led to rampant unauthorized construction in UR colonies,” said a South Corporation official.
Experts say illegal construction is rampant in Delhi, so each master plan has focused on regularizing illegal activities. The 2007 MPD provided for legalizing commercial establishments in residential areas by allowing mixed land use. Now, the revised plan proposes low-density residential areas (LDRA), which is a way to regularize illegal farmhouses. Corporation officials say LDRA actually allows more dwelling units per plot.
“The vision is limited by the burden of the present. Each plan regularizes what has come up illegally. It is about time we seriously address the issues and provide practical solutions to decongest the city. There are villages which are 300 years old. There is a need for a special plan to restore them,” said K T Ravindran, urban designer and former DUAC chairperson.
Experts say the provisions related to parking space need to be revised, as MPD-2021 stressed on providing parking while now the thrust is on public transport. “MPD-2021 allows for two equivalent car spaces per 100-sq metre of residential area and three in commercial areas. There is an urgent need to undo this clause for the success of TOD,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment.
There’s also a need for a rolling process of planning for timely course-correction. “Twenty years is too long a period for planning, given the city’s complexities and fast growth rate,” said Bhaduri.
New Delhi: To a common man it seems strange that years are spent in drawing and reviewing the master plan but Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the city’s planning agency, says making the ‘vision document’ is a mammoth task. Decisions are taken after a lot of discussion between experts and implemented only after seeking and incorporating the public’s views.
DDA had formed 12 sub-groups of experts from various fields to discuss the city’s development and growing requirements of shelter, traffic and transportation, trade and commerce, etc.
More than 200 experts took two years to prepare the draft of Master Plan for Delhi 2021 after the Union urban development ministry commissioned it in 2003. Each group had academicians, experts working on the ground and government representatives. “They submitted their recommendations after reviewing sectoral studies and current problems like the commercialization of residential areas,” said a senior DDA official.
Experts say the main objective of MPD-2021 was to address the city’s growing needs while conserving the environment and heritage.
After the draft plan was notified in March 2005, DDA received more than 7,000 suggestions and objections from the public. “Close to 90% of the suggestions were related to property. We incorporated the suggestions for the city’s development and sent them to our advisory council for approval,” a DDA official said.
Finalizing a master plan after incorporating the public’s suggestions takes a long time. The draft plan is vetted by various committees for legal and technical issues before it is sent to the Union urban development ministry which notifies it after receiving the Cabinet’s approval.
“The entire exercise for preparing a draft plan is repeated after the public’s suggestions are incorporated. That is why it takes years,” said the official.
The same process is followed to notify a revised master plan. The revision started in early-2012 and the government is notifying the changes in phases. DDA officials say more than 100 amendments have already been made to MPD-2021. The urban development ministry is in the process of finalizing the last chapter on environment, which will be posted for people’s suggestions and objections soon. Sources say the review is likely to end by December.