Delhi's Master Plan estimated quite accurately that there would be about 100,000 industrial units by 2001 and provided for well over 2000 hectares of planned industrial space for them. Most of Delhi's industrial units are functioning in illegal and problematic ways only because nearly none of this space has been developed.

Delhi's revised Master Plan approved in 1990 anticipated about 100,000 (mainly light and service - L&S) industrial units by 2001 and provided for well over 2000 Ha of space for them. Sixteen L&S estates spread over 1533 Ha and two extensive industrial estates over 265 Ha were proposed in the three urban extensions (Dwarka, Narela and Rohini). About 200 Ha of space in flatted factories, proposed in 1962 but not developed on sites like Birla Mills, DCM, Jhandewalan, etc, was again proposed. More space thinly spread across the city was envisaged through restricted industrial use in residential and commercial areas. 70 types of household industries were permitted subject to restrictions to protect residential area amenity. Another 100 types were permitted in urban villages. Nearly 150 types of industries were similarly permitted in planned commercial centres. Repair and service industries were also provided for in service centres. Industrial space across the city was also envisaged in existing industrial areas after shifting heavy or noxious (H-category) industries already prohibited in 1962 and extensive industries (F-category) prohibited in 1990. Failure to implement 1962 Plan provisions had resulted in most units being in non-industrial areas and for these the revised Plan proposed redevelopment or relocation. Redevelopment/regularisation was proposed for Shahdara, Anand Parbat and Samaipur Badli. Relocation provisions were to ensure minimum disruption. Non-conforming F-category units and L&S units employing more than 20 workers were to shift to industrial areas within 3 years of being allotted plots, the latter with incentives. L&S units with less than 20 workers were to be given opportunities to relocate and be reviewed after 5 / 10 years.

Nearly nothing was done to implement these Plan provisions, nor was this gross implementation failure brought to the attention of the Supreme Court when it intervened, starting 1996, in the matter of industries (other than H-category) with Plan entitlements in industrial space in Delhi. By 2000 industries in Delhi faced with two options, both tantamount to shortchanging on Plan entitlements. The Congress government in Delhi headed by Sheila Dikshit was espousing regularisation. That the Sheila Option, wholeheartedly supported by Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana, offers no more than status quo is obvious from the fact that Plan provisions for redevelopment/regularisation of areas like Samaipur Badli have not been implemented since 1990. The BJP-led coalition government at the Centre opposed the Sheila Option. In its affidavit the Ministry for Urban Development, headed by Jagmohan, said in 2000, "no amendment in the Master Plan of Delhi may be done to cover inaction or failure on the part of the local government". Having made passing reference to implementation failure, MoUD stopped short of ensuring Plan implementation. Instead, the Jagmohan Option offers relocation to Bawana, yet-to-be-developed and at variance from Plan provisions for industrial estates, through processes in disregard of Plan provisions for relocation. These shortchanging options dominate the discourse and have diverted attention from accountability on industrial space guaranteed by the Master Plan.

Samaipur Badli

Industrial area redevelopment, Plan provisions not implemented

The Master Plan provides for industrial area redevelopment schemes for three industrial clusters - Shahdara, Anand Parbat, Samaipur Badli. These schemes are to be prepared after 'proper survey and appraisal' and regularisation of 'safe and compatible units' after 'upgrading upgrading the environment' and on the basis of 'individual merit'. These schemes, mandatory since 1990, have not been prepared. In December 2000 Jagmohan 'allowed' regularisation in them. Even after this redevelopment schemes (without which regularisation is not contemplated by the Plan) were not implemented. In December 2002, a week after DDA approved a proposal for regularising industrial units in 24 other areas, Samaipur Badli provided a reminder that this can do no more than change label from problem to solution and amounts to abdication of responsibility for planned development.

  • 2002.01.25: Gita Dewan Verma: Two surveys, no inference1
  • 2003.01.24: 65 unregistered industrial units in North-West, Daily Pioneer
  • 2002.12.31: Probe / survey ordered
  • 2002.12.29: Gita Dewan Verma: And how many deaths will it take to be known...?2
  • 2002.12.02: 9 killed, 13 injured in glass factory blast


Industrial development, only scheme and not according to Plan

The only recent industrial area development in Delhi was precipitated by Supreme Court orders of 1996 for relocation of units from non-industrial areas. In successive court hearings industrial development underway in Bawana in the urban extension of Delhi was used as an excuse to have relocation deadlines extended. But never was it noted that the type of industrial development happening in Bawana was not contemplated by the Plan, nor can it take care of the whole problem. The Bawana development is reportedly over 700 - 800 Ha and the part developed so far has only 16000 plots, half of which have been allotted and on less than a hundred construction by units has started, reportedly on account of incomplete infrastructure provision. The Plan envisaged 1533 Ha spread over 16 L&S industrial estates (including 6 special industrial estates) and 265 Ha spread over space two extensive industrial estates in three urban extensions. It is not clear what kind of industrial estate is being developed at Bawana, why so much industrial space is concentrated in one location, and if this concentration is within infrastructure carrying capacity. Nor is it clear why development of just 16000 industrial plots, happening but not quite happened for 7 years, is being seen as a solution and how it came to substitute far superior Plan entitlements of 100000 units in the city.

  • 2003.01.17: Newspaper article by MD, DSIDC: Comment3
  • 2003.01.04: Bandhu awaits court hearing on industrial units, Sreelatha Menon, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.30: Deadline to shift polluting units nears, HTC, Hindustan Times
  • 2002.12.20: Khurana misleading plot holders, says DSIDC, Staff Reporter, Hindu
  • 2002.12.19: BJP warns against closure of industries, HTC, Hindustan Times
  • 2002.12.18: Bawana ready, barring lights: Panel report, ENS, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.17: BJP talks of stir over relocation, ENS, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.17: Shifting units: Govt not to plead for more time, Sreelatha Menon, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.15: 'Industry relocation will take six months', HTC, Hindustan Times
  • 2002.12.12: It's up to industries now, Govt to tell SC, HTC, Hindustan Times
  • 2002.12.12: Govt okays loan for 1,600 industrialists to take plots, ENS, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.12: No power to industries after Dec 31, say firms, Sreelatha Menon, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.07: Bawana ready and waiting for industries, Sangeet Kumar, Express Newsline
  • 2002.12.05: Gita Dewan Verma: Impending industrial unrest?4
  • 2002.12.04: Factories near homes to go by Dec 31, Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, Front Page

Accountability on industrial space guaranteed by the Master Plan

Grass-eating Fences (excerpt from Slumming India)

"...Like any good plan, Delhi's Master Plan did not provide an either or choice between environmental and economic imperatives. It supported industrial development in the interest of balanced economic development, especially as it would be 'undesirable to increase the proportion of Government employment in the occupational structure of the city'. It did say it would be unwise to locate large and heavy industries in Delhi. This was not because it considered them 'polluting' and wanted to export them to some place else, but because they would create an undesirable industrial bias in the economy of the capital and because Delhi did not have enough water and power to sustain them. It included, accordingly, lists of undesirable industries and prohibited industries. Together, these lists are substantively the same as the H-category list that replaced them in the comprehensively amended Plan approved in 1990 and which was the basis of the court order of March 1995.

For other types of industries (including ones at the centre of the impasse in Delhi in 2000), the Master Plan used techniques like industrial zoning (the basis of the concept of 'non-conforming' units greatly touted later on) to obviate detrimental environmental impacts of economically essential industrial functions. The logic of industrial zoning is that it is easier to service industries-in terms of effluent treatment and waste sites as well as ordinary water, power and transport-when they are together rather than when they are mixed up with other uses needing less or different infrastructure.

When the 1962 Master Plan was prepared, there were 8,000 industrial units in Delhi occupying an area of 1,000 acres. There were only two planned industrial districts and most industries were scattered all over the city and required relocation. The Plan set aside 5,761 acres of land for industries within the urbanisable limits proposed for 1981. This land (unlike in the Jagmohan Option) was appropriately distributed with a view to ensuring that 'industrial districts are located in right relationship with residential areas'.

The bulk of land reserved for industrial use was in the form of industrial estates. Besides these, the Plan proposed flatted factories-multi-storied structures near residential areas for small-scale, non-nuisance industries. In (the then) central areas these were mainly for existing units that needed to be relocated from nearby. In (the then) outlying areas, they were for new units. For the former, 192 acres, and for the latter, 168 acres, were reserved.

The Master Plan provided for combating industrial pollution without making a big issue of it. Industrial estates were separated from residential areas by buffers. While most existing industries were permitted to shift to any industrial area, noxious ones could only shift to extensive industrial zones (designed to handle higher levels of pollution) even if they were by definition not 'extensive'.

The 1962 Master Plan (unlike the 'options' forty years later) did not envisage forced relocation. Enough choice of areas was provided and no one was expected to have to shift to some wilderness miles away from the city. It stated that the relocation process 'must be largely governed by the fact that there should be the minimum amount of dislocation of production and the workers should not be put to undue hardship'. It laid down a time schedule that distinguished between noxious, nuisance and non-nuisance industries and allowed extensions to industries with higher capital value, more workers or more floor space per worker. It said that industries to be relocated should be given priority in allotments in new industrial sites and incentives, such as more land than they occupied at present, loans, etc. For relocation of small industries not suited to flatted factories, but unlikely to be able to afford industrial plots, it said government should develop industrial estates where space could be rented out to them and that, obviously, such 'estates should be built up in comparatively central areas'.

A mid-term appraisal of the Master Plan implementation in 1974 found the number of industrial workers had been under-estimated and space standards over-estimated. After making necessary adjustments, industrial land requirement for 1981 was modified marginally upwards to 6,500 acres. How much of this was developed is, like other numbers in this story, a mystery that even the Estimates Committee of Parliament, with all its privileges, could not unravel. According to a table in its report of May 1984, of a total industrial area of 2148 acres developed by all agencies, DDA had developed 2,700 acres! In all of two decades since the Master Plan came into force in 1962, we had managed to relocate only 3,300 units (and the Jagmohan Option in 2000 spoke of 'relocating' nearly 100,000). DDA had developed just 9,000 industrial plots. In 1981 there were 46,000 industrial units-a majority of them, naturally, in areas not reserved for industries.

In 1990, the revised Master Plan for Delhi was approved. In this, industries already 'prohibited' in Delhi as per the 1962 Plan were again prohibited and ones that had continued or come up in spite of being prohibited were given three years to shift. The list of industries 'prohibited' in the 1962 Master Plan was expanded and included under the title 'Hazardous and Noxious Industries' as Section A in the H-category. (The objectionable 'characteristic' listed against each type, incidentally, is mainly fire hazard, not pollution.) The types of industries already identified as 'undesirable' in 1962 were listed in Section B in the H-category under the title of 'Heavy and Large Industries'. No new industries of these types or of the eighty-one types of 'Extensive Industries' included in the F-category were henceforth to be allowed in Delhi. Existing Heavy and Large Industries were to be shifted out according to the plan and policy for the National Capital Region. Existing F-category industries in areas not meant for them were to be relocated in plots of at least 400 square metres in existing extensive industry zones and in new ones 'confined within about 265 hectares (or 650 acres) in two locations' in proposed urban extensions. (The Jagmohan Option circa 2000 wanted to pack them all off elsewhere, including larger industrial areas in the urban extension, in plots of less than 250 square metres.)

In effect, only light and service industries were permitted in Delhi in the future, primarily because these service the city and are mostly small (77 per cent had less than ten and 91 per cent less than twenty workers in 1981). Accordingly, besides being allowed in industrial estates, they were permitted in commercial areas and flatted factories all over the city. The plan also defined small units (employing up to five persons and using power up to 1 kw) in seventy types of industries as household industries and permitted them in residential areas on the ground floor. (It was this definition that all were agreeable in 2000 to revise to allow consumption up to 5 kw of power and permission on other floors as well.)

The revised Master Plan approved in 1990 also allowed for three industrial clusters to be surveyed, redeveloped and regularized after upgrading. (In 2000 the Sheila Option was asking for many more to be regularized without being redeveloped and the three to which Jagmohan grudgingly consented were the ones already mentioned in the 1990 Master Plan document).

On pollution (against which this holy war was being waged in the name of the Master Plan), the 1990 Plan speaks of eighty-two water-polluting units, 30 per cent of which were in areas not meant for industries. For these it only says that they be shifted to industrial areas, where all polluting units must make individual or joint arrangements for effluent treatment.

* * *

The most striking difference between the Master Plan land use drawings of 1962 and 1990 is that a large chunk of purple (the colour for industrial use) gave way to yellow (the colour for residential use). This was partly in view of most service industries being in the 'tiny-sector' and because of policy decisions to restrict other industries and partly because of emergent priorities such as regularizing unauthorized colonies (in 1977) and allotting land to housing cooperatives. At least some of the industries that were being forced out of Delhi in 2000 were really paying the price for these older changes in the Master Plan (besides the related governmental failure to install sewage lines in regularized unauthorized colonies which contributed to polluting the Yamuna).

Incidentally, alongside the imbroglio about units that were never told about the land meant for them (either by government agencies for developing, licensing or policing them or by political and NGO entities claiming to work in their interest), another 1,071 unauthorized residential colonies were again waiting to be regularized. Which colour in the land use plan would change to yellow and who would become hooligans years later as a result of this are points to ponder. Meanwhile, the land use already changed from purple to yellow was not the only land that got stolen from the kitty of the industries.

Some of the extensive (F-category) industries at the centre of the controversy in 2000 had presumably come up after 1990 when they were forbidden. But who's to ask how many, how and why? In urban extensions, only 265 hectares had been earmarked for shifting some such (pre-1990) industries. At the minimum plot size of 400 square metres prescribed for them and allowing 25 per cent for streets and facilities, this land would have been enough for only about 5,000 units. Yet, the Jagmohan Option was bent on stuffing many more 'extensive' industries of unspecified vintage in puny plots in urban extensions-all in the name of the Master Plan. The rest of the pre-1990 'non-conforming' (rather than unauthorized) F-category industries were to go to industrial areas already proposed in the 1962 Plan. The mid-term appraisal in 1974 had noted that plot sizes in private cooperative estates were greater than in DDA's estates and recommended a review of requirements and utilization. Yet F-category industries were being axed before estates meant for them had been fully and efficiently (re)developed.

After discounting F-category units, (redefined) household units and H-category units that may have got left out in the court-ordered closure exercise because they were not polluting and just otherwise hazardous, the number of light and service industries could have been about two-thirds of the total number of industries in places not meant for industries. In industrial estates for such industries, the Master Plan proposes a wide range of plot sizes-from 30 to 1000 square metres. The average, based on suggested proportions of different sizes, comes to just over 200 square metres. In 1990, about 1,533 hectares were set aside for new estates in urban extensions for such units. After allowing for streets and community facilities, this quantum of land could easily accommodate 50,000 such units and if larger plots are disallowed it could accommodate more. This is what the Jagmohan Option seemed to be wanting. While it is possible to do such a 'fitting' exercise, it makes no sense because service industries, by definition, service the city and cannot be lumped altogether in some place miles away from anywhere. This is precisely why the 1990 Master Plan proposes that these 1,533 hectares be spread over sixteen industrial estates. But who's to ask why urban extensions yet to come up were being given an unplanned start? Or if all the land in the industrial estates meant for these units elsewhere had been fully and efficiently utilized already? Or who else had got or would get that real estate in the city?

The Master Plan did not limit industrial options for light and service industries to plots. A lot of such units were meant to be in flatted factories. The industrial space that was envisaged in this option could have accommodated 30,000 to 40,000 units of 50 square metres each (the size of the 300 flatted factory units alloted in 2000). In reality, none of these flatted factories had been built in spite of having been proposed in 1962, strongly recommended again in 1974 in the mid-term appraisal, and proposed yet again in 1990. To get an idea of what happened to this land, take the case of the century-old Delhi Cloth Mills. In 1962, the Plan suggested that it be shifted and 27 acres out of the land thus cleared in the heart of Delhi be used to set up flatted factories. This was enough for nearly 3,300 units of 50 square metres each. The DCM was to shift by 1965 or, latest, by 1967. It finally closed in 1989. By then, in addition to 52 acres of freehold land that the Mill already owned, DDA had given it 11.7 acres of leasehold land for expansion. In 1989, the then Lieutenant-Governor Romesh Bhandari ordered that DCM be allowed to use all 63.7 acres for its proposed project to build flatted factories and multi-storied housing. In 1991, the supreme court upheld DDA's claim to the leasehold land. But in July 1994, the union urban development ministry directed that this land be restored to DCM. The flatted factories that should have come up on the site in the 1960s were still not there in 2000. But who's to ask when they would come and for whom after the clean sweep was done?

As per the 1962 Plan industries were allowed only in industrial areas. But in 1990, specified types of units were also allowed in planned commercial areas. Surely thousands of units could have been thus accommodated. When plan amendments were approved in 1990, work was underway on the design of one of the three urban extensions, Dwarka. This one is in a different direction from the other two (Rohini and Narela) and eminently suited to locating one of the two extensive industry zones proposed in urban extensions, besides which it was also supposed to accommodate some of the sixteen light and service industrial estates proposed. Indeed, around 6 per cent of the area was reserved for industries in Dwarka. But the union government wrote to DDA to say that, in view of the policy to restrict industries, industrial allocation should be curtailed and commercial allocation (in which light and service industries are also permissible) increased instead. Although proposals to amend the Master Plan to this effect finally did not come through, the industrial component in the upcoming township was dropped. But no one seems to have monitored the impact of this significant policy decision, taken while the matter of industrial land use was before the apex court.

On the other hand, there is perhaps no planned commercial area-in Dwarka or elsewhere-where Master Plan provisions for industries have been consciously implemented. A notable case in point is a state-of-art community centre (commercial area meant as per the Master Plan to serve a local population of about 100,000) developed in the 1990s by HUDCO, designed by a leading private architect and built by a leading corporate developer. In 1990, HUDCO was still supposedly focussed on low-income housing. But the union urban development ministry decided to get some exclusive housing built through it on a prime piece of real estate very close to South Extension, an up-market commercial area in south Delhi. So splendid was the housing scheme HUDCO came up with, that it must have found Master Plan norms for the community centre it was to build next to it rather tame. So, it planned a 'community centre' which had guesthouses, restaurants, a five-star hotel, a shopping arcade and cultural centre. Of course, such a plan had no place for messy industries, though the Master Plan permits 140 types of industries in a community centre. But who's to question the combined urban development indulgences of premier urban designers and developers in government, corporate and private professional sectors working in partnership?

There is also the matter of the land vacated by shifting of H-category industries. In May 1996 the court had asked owners of these plots to surrender two-thirds of the land to DDA for community use. Further, it said, 'the most important community need which is wholly deficient and needed urgently is to provide for lung spaces'. On the rest of the land it permitted one-and-a-half times the floor area ratio (FAR) normally permissible to help owners 'meet the cost of relocation'. When it was brought to the court's notice that several units would take advantage of this 'land use package' by selling the land, leaving workers to fend for themselves, it ordered six years' wages as compensation for the workers if an owner opted to close rather than shift. As mentioned, this order was rarely complied with. A follow-up study also reported that most owners had enough capital and were simply not interested in paying. Nor were they in any hurry to surrender their real estate to DDA. A 'grey area' was conveniently noticed in the order. Owners felt DDA should pay compensation and leave to them the choice of what land they hand over. DDA, on its part, saw no reason to pay compensation or be stuck with problematic sites, such as ones mired in court cases. Four years after the order, not one square inch had been handed over to DDA. In May 2000, the court said the owners were not entitled to compensation beyond the extra FAR and ordered them to surrender the stipulated portion of land to DDA by 28 May, failing which DDA had to file applications before the district judge by 23 June. The district judge would execute the court's order of May 1996 and report compliance in four weeks thereafter. On 24 June, by when DDA had filed one 'incomplete and vague' application, the district judge asked it to file site plans of the lands it wanted to take over. DDA filed a few site plans and twenty-six owners filed objections and DDA filed replies. The court over-ruled the objections through separate orders and some owners filed review petitions. On 3 August 2000 the court issued warrants for taking possession of the land to be surrendered-for all of just nine factories which had been shutdown. Two days later the bailiff returned to say that the warrants could not be executed as the places were 'encroached and closed'. Who's to ask if this is how we 'manage public land' -especially when it is real estate for the rich-even as we always seem to be terribly short of it when it comes to the poor?

But this is not the main point in the matter of the land spared by shifting H-category units at the end of the 1990s. The point to be noted is that those industries that existed prior to 1962 were to have closed by 1965 or latest by 1967; those that had come up during 1962-1990 should not have come up at all (but in 1990 they were 'condoned' and given till 1993 to shift); and those that had come up after 1990 should also not have come up (but had not been 'condoned'). In effect, industries that should not have begun operations after 1962 and, if existing before that, closed down latest by 1967 were being gifted precious industrial land as an incentive to close down at the end of the 1990s. The 1990 plan document does not mention incentives (only a three-year limit for closing). In 1962, the Plan did suggest incentives, but these came with a time limit. Surely, even the oldest amongst these industries were not entitled to benefits beyond what they could have claimed latest till 1967. Many (including the nine against which the district judge issued warrants in August 2000) had been occupying space not meant for them in industrial estates meant for other industries. Their owners were now being generously allowed to change to a conforming industrial activity on the same site if they so desired. In effect, 'yet-to-come-up' industries were being allowed a greater claim on scarce industrial land in Delhi while so many other 'old' ones were being unceremoniously closed or shunted out on the grounds that there was no more industrial land available.

The Master Plan says land spared by shifting H-category units is to be used for 'making up the deficiency, as per the needs of the community, based on norms' given in the Plan and if the land is not needed for this 'it will be used as per prescribed land use.' From everything else in the Plan, 'community' is arguably meant in the sense of 'local resident community'. In the case of industries closed on sites not meant for them, the 'community' could be in need of 'lung spaces'. Equally it could be in need of schools or hospitals or flatted factories-all as per norms. In case of industries closed in industrial estates, there is no 'community' as such, except perhaps workers in shanties badly in need of housing. The Master Plan also limits land to be left for parks and green buffers in industrial estates to 8 per cent in estates for extensive industries and 12 per cent in estates for light and service industries. This is to be ensured on the whole while designing the layout (it is not the norm to be followed for each individual plot). Industrial land, it must be remembered, is precious for the city's economic well being. Like commercial land it provides workspaces for the city at convenient locations and with necessary facilities. But unlike commercial areas, it can be 'saved' under zoning laws from market forces that tend to overly commercialize work areas to the detriment of convenience and efficiency concerns underlying landuse decisions. To put more parks in industrial areas than are necessary to create essential buffers is sub-optimal use of public land. To do so when people in the streets are crying for a small piece of industrial land for units crucial not only to their but also to the city's economic survival is very poor planning indeed. But who's to ask when and how colour pencils meant for colouring land use drawings all became green? Or when and why it was decreed that grass is more important than Cows?

Posted by Gita Dewan Verma: 2003-02-11, last modified July 10, 2006