“Acquire illegal farmhouses for social infrastructure; use sick industrial plots for residential development”

The Delhi Development Authority on Monday completed a significant milestone in its ongoing review of the Delhi Master Plan-2021. Four technical committees engaged in reviewing four broad areas of the Master Plan came up with presentations on the work done so far and an audience of top public servants, town planners, urban designers and architects offered their views on the broad ideas that the improved Master Plan seeks to incorporate.

The group deliberating on urban form, heritage and development controls said the preparation and implementation of local area plans which was handed over to the MCD for execution had failed because of the civic bodies’ several limitations. They said the plan should be based on 3D mapping done in a time-bound manner involving professionals like architects.

The group also advocated mixed land-use which should be people-friendly and addressing the day-to-day concerns of the common man. They also called for vaguely framed definitions in the Master Plan needed to be re-worded to address ambiguities.

While the DDA had earlier mooted regularisation of farmhouses after levying penalties, the group was in support of acquisition of land for providing roads, green belts, etc. for which the farmhouse owners can provide 25 per cent of the land. They also advocated that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps of the city be made public to enable professionals for future design exercises.

The group on shelter focused on redevelopment of existing buildings and colonies especially in unauthorised colonies and jhuggi-jhonpri clusters. It said the recommendations on density as proposed in MPD 2021 for low-rise buildings with a high density be ratified. The fire safety implications of mixed land use need to be looked at very carefully. The group observed that a large number of houses in Delhi were lying vacant and these need to be put to immediate use.

While the MPD 2021 provides for floor area ratio (FAR) increase in inverse proportion to plot size, the experts group recommended that it should be the other way round and larger plot sizes should have higher FAR with reduced ground coverage.

They also requested the DDA not to forget urban villages where the extended ‘lal dora’ has substantial land available for development. It was recommended that specific guidelines should be framed for extended ‘lal dora’ development.

The group recommended that sites selected for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) need to be declared well in advance even before the metro projects are fully operational to synergise works of various agencies.

A demand for using large parcels of land available with farmhouses to be used for housing projects was also mooted. Large plots owned by sick industrial plots should be permitted to be used for residential development and all Master Plan (MP) roads need to be declared mixed land-use, the group said. The group also advocated that pooling of land be permitted in both planned and un-planned areas for redevelopment.

The group on transport with focus on improved mobility said the TOD plans had to be area-specific and a generic plan was bound to fail. It also called for comprehensive multimodal planning and that road safety audits need to be done. While encouraging car-pooling, the group desired that the share of Public Transport should be increased to 60-70 per cent. It also called for traffic Management Plans to be prepared for all areas and expanding the Bus-Rapid Transit corridor. However, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg complained that his department should also be consulted in the transport and traffic management plans.

The group on environment and physical infrastructure called for a comprehensive environmental plan for Delhi to be prepared including aspects like seismic zones, biodiversity and climate change. With particular reference to water, the group advocated circular metabolism instead of the current linear approach to encouraging treatment, recycling and reuse. Options of vertical greening and vertical farming should also be explored to enable the city to produce its own food, the group said. It also called for measures to protect the Delhi ridge, Yamuna floodplains and large open spaces for ensuring recharge of ground water.

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