Proposal to modify DMP to "regularize" metro property development come up illegally on the riverbed

By DDA’s PUBLIC NOTICE of 18.09.041, Central Government has invited objections and suggestions on its “proposal” to change Master Plan land use on riverbed to “Commercial (IT Park)”, with “conditions” like “no further” residential development. This “proposal” is actually at an advanced stage of construction, continuing past this Public Notice, as evident from PHOTOGRAPHS of 16.10.20042 and a news report of 15.10.20043
. There is some information on the DMRC WEBSITE4 about this project, started in the latter half of 2003 (ie, after the court order for clearing all riverbed encroachments, which is what this project is) and graced by a CHIEF MINISTERIAL VISIT5 on 05.02.2004 (ie, days before clearance of Yamuna Pushta began - diagonally across the river, beneath the non-conforming Secretariat where decisions to seal non-conforming industries are currently being taken and survey for further Pushta clearance is also underway).

CLEARANCE OF ALL METRO PROPERTY ENCROACHMENT on the riverbed has also been sought, especially since the court order for riverbed encroachments. This is a legitimate demand and if it seems odd that is only because of oddity of discourse that has made planned development law unspeakable phrase in pursuit of freewheeling options and is now left with no choice but to pragmatically root for “regularization” of the inequities and inefficiencies it has abetted - as in current demands for industries, hawkers, slums, unauthorized colonies, farmhouses, biodiversity parks, malls. (It is a facet of the same rooting discourse that creates riverbed furore about fully built temple and yet to happen Games Village but not metro property, obfuscates Master Plan imperatives with free-floating ideas for "new plan", calls for participation while ignoring Public Notices, etc).

By this Public Notice a new Government has chosen the old "pragmatic" discourse option of "regularizing" metro property encroachment on the riverbed. Many have chosen to respond to its choice with the legitimate demand, in context of DMP and NCMP, for encroachment removal and restoration of rule of law...

MPISG decided on 13.10.2004 to engage on this Public Notice in view of emerging "consensus" about "regularisation". About 200 responses were filed by groups in riverbed, ridge, resettlement areas and elsewhere and by those synergizing with them in professional capacity.


  • 1. Sir, I wish to place on record a preliminary response to above-mentioned Notice and seek details of its basis, etc, to file detailed response.

    A. Objections

    A1. The Public Notice appeared on p.6 of Economic Times dated 17.04.04. I have not been able to locate it in more widely read dailies or even on DDA’s website. I do not recollect any media reports drawing attention to it. I was not informed of it even as I await reply to my s.11A response to Public Notice of December 2002 for metro property development. Nor was my client, petitioner in WP 8523/2003, including an instance affected by the proposed modification, informed of it. The Notice falls woefully short of statutory requirement for Public Notices to “be widely made known in the locality to be affected thereby by affixing copies thereof in conspicuous public places within the said locality or by publishing the same by beat of drum or by advertisement in local newspaper or by any two or more of these means, and by any other means that the secretary may think fit” (s.44 of DD Act, 1957).

    A2. The Public Notice is issued by the Authority and, therefore, u/s.11-A(1), which states that the “Authority may make any modification to the master plan or the zonal development plan as it thinks fit, being modifications which, in its opinion, do not effect important alterations in the character of the plan”. The proposed modification is beyond jurisdiction, as follows:

    • (a) s.11-A(1) permits only modifications “to the master plan or the zonal development plan”. The use of ‘or’ clearly suggests Zonal Plans cannot be modified through a Master Plan modification. The Notice, however, proposes modification “in the Master Plan / Zonal Development Plan” through introduction of text in only the Master Plan. This is all the more significant since the revised Plan approved in 1990 already reduces zonal planning responsibility to less than what was contemplated in the Act. This Public Notice is for unjustifiable further abdication of responsibility for detailed planning in favour of ad-hoc design.
    • (b) s.11-A(1) does not permit modifications that “effect important alterations in the character of the plan”. The proposed modification undoubtedly does this. It really introduces a new use premise for metro-station-cum-property-development and permits for this about 750 hectares of land in the city (@ 3 Ha per station, provided on average at every kilometer of about 250 km of proposed metro corridor). At this scale it, in effect, introduces a new use zone – amounting to what is being called in recent DDA presentations a ‘white zone’ – along the metro corridor.
    • (c) Leeway provided by s.11-A(1) for the Authority’s ‘opinion’ is tempered, since approval of the revised plan in 1990, by mandatory plan monitoring and review provisions. Without such consideration, s.11-A(1) is not usable by the Authority in terms of its object (“to promote and secure the development of Delhi according to Plan”, s.6) and the Public Notice does not refer to any plan monitoring or review studies and, in view of the ongoing plan revision, is nothing short of an attempt to substitute more rigorous statutory requirements of s.10 through misuse of s.11-A.

    A3. The proposed modification itself is clearly contrary to the Authority’s object (s.6), since it, in effect, releases about 750 hectares of land from the purview of any plan. References in the Public Notice to planning restrictions are illusory, as follows:

    • (a) The only controls specified are some thumb-rule built form controls of 25% ground coverage and 100 FAR, rationale of which is unclear and which clearly lack the depth of considered building controls set out for various use premises in clause 8(iv) of the Development Code.
    • (b) Land use restriction suggested by use of the phrase ‘subject to Development Code Clause 3(3)’ is wholly illusory. Clause 3(3) pertains to use activities permissible in a use premise. Neither metro-station nor metro-station-property-development is a use premises in the Schedule to the Development Code and, therefore, Clause-3(3) is not elaborated for them in Clause-8(iii). The proposed modification thus carries no restriction on use on metro property premises.
    • (c) It also overrides Clause-8(ii) restrictions on use premises in various use zones by making solitary exception for Recreational Use zone. This is even as Clause-8(ii) cannot be overridden in this manner, even as, say, Riverbed / Green Belt use zones also call for general exceptions since the plan as well as subsequent CGWA notification accords them greater protection than to Recreational Use zone from willful property development of the kind proposed to be permitted, and even as the Recreation Use zone exception is being violated in ongoing metro property development with impunity, in disregard of s.11A responses to Public Notice of December 2002.

    B. Suggestions

    B1. The proposed modification does not appear to be carefully considered. While some amount of metro property development is both expected and useful for planned development purposes, I posit that any systematic appraisal would find (besides need for compensatory land use adjustments for zonal fits and targets, etc) this much metro property development unjustifiable even under Metro law (which envisages only 3% cost raising through property development) and unsustainable in purely market terms and metro-property-development for revenue not only more appropriate but also more viable in a more regulated manner, say at select locations rather than all along the corridor. I seek (within ambit of s.10, which – rather than s.11A – is attracted by this so-called plan modification) details, including of appraisal of options (vis-a-vis master plan and various zonal plans) out of which this was selected, rationale for the restrictions mentioned in the Public Notice, the view taken on responses to metro property development Public Notice of December 2002, etc. I reserve my right to file a detailed response to this proposed modification in absence of adequate detail in its Public Notice, besides inadequate publicity to the same. (I came to know of it only today).

    B2. Establishing seriousness, even bonafide, of metro property development initiatives such as this Public Notice pre-requires now a modicum of accountability about the Public Notice of December 2002, my response to which has neither been heard nor replied to. I suggest in this regard the following:

    • (a) Commercial / up-market housing metro property development underway on 2.7 Ha (of total of 4.6 Ha) at Shahdra, 3.8 Ha at Seelampur, 5.1 Ha at Gautampur and 16.8 Ha at Khyber Pass should be stopped / demolished forthwith. As per Public Notice of December 2002 all this required land use change from Recreational Use and is not permissible even under the regime now proposed – in terms of the Recreational Use exception, 3 Ha limit, etc.
    • (b) Residential, commercial, etc, metro property development underway on part of the 51.9 Ha of Riverbed/Green land at Shastri Park (for which proposed land use in Public Notice of December 2002 was only transportation) should be stopped / demolished forthwith. This is because Riverbed/Green Use attracts same, even greater, exception than Recreational Use and since master plan ultimately envisages for the riverbed Recreational Use. This is also because this development is in contempt of court order of 03.03.2003 for clearance of riverbed encroachments, in purported compliance of which DDA has lately enthusiastically participated in clearing Yamuna Pushta as per a ‘high-level’ administrative decision of 03.01.2004 to which it was party in disregard of its statutory responsibilities apropos both riverbed and low-income housing, despite my representation of 07.03.2003 placing the same in perspective of the court order, etc. The timing of this Public Notice, coincident with DDA’s Pushta clearance activities, besides existing and proposed metro corridors in the area that is being cleared in selective compliance of court orders and reports about increased investor confidence in metro property development on the riverbed, does raise rather serious questions about motives.

    I expect you will hold the proposed modification in abeyance in view of the objections in terms of s.44, s.11A(1) / s.10 and s.6 pending response to the request for details (in ambit of s.10) and suggestions (with reference to s.11A Public Notice of December 2002). Should you require any clarification on this somewhat hastily written response, do kindly let me know.

    Thanking you and looking forward to hearing from you at the earliest,

    Yours sincerely

    Gita Dewan Verma / Planner...

  • 2. source:
  • 3. Deadlock continues over Metro projects
    NEW DELHI, OCT. 14. The Delhi Metro railway project, which is greatly dependent on commercial exploitation of its properties for making its operations financially viable, has run into a major hurdle in the form of the Land and Development Office under the Union Ministry of Urban Development as it has withheld issue of no-objection certificates for nearly a dozen construction plans, stalling development work worth about Rs. 500 crores. (Retrieved 5th July, 2013)
  • 4. source:
  • 5. Metro coming up ahead of time
    NEW DELHI, FEB. 5. The Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, today announced that the upcoming new Kashmere Gate-Central Secretariat underground line of the Metro Railway would be completed by June next year, a full three months ahead of the original deadline of September 2005. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation would thus be the first organisation in the Capital to "prepone rather than postpone a project". (Retrieved 5th July, 2013)
  • 6. source:
  • 7. [mpisg] riverbed