Staff Reporter

Notification within 48 hours, says Union Minister Jaipal Reddy, ruling out sealing drive for now

NEW DELHI: Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy signed the much-awaited new Master Plan for Delhi-2021 on Tuesday and also announced immediate relief for the Capital's traders by declaring that the stipulated sealing drive would not resume from Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the seventh Editors' Conference on Social Sector Issues, Mr. Reddy said the new Master Plan would be notified within 48 hours. Explaining why this much time was required, he said the new plan document needed to be published in Hindi too.

Stating that his Ministry would try and ensure that ``sealing does not take place'', Mr. Reddy said the drive would not resume on Wednesday as there were no commercial establishments that had to be sealed for their failure to submit undertakings to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

The Master Plan has incorporated several liberal mixed land use norms -- which had been notified last September 7 and 15 -- to provide relief to people from sealing and demolitions.

It would re-designate areas as "commercial", "residential" and "mixed" and legalise commercial activity on 2,183 roads notified by the MCD and 100 more roads notified by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), thereby giving relief to about 5 lakh traders.

Mr. Reddy said the Master Plan would regulate construction activity in Delhi and builders would be made more accountable through establishment of a regulatory authority. Legislation is being drafted by the Centre to ensure that the builders provide basic amenities to the people.

Mr. Reddy said the Plan would also encourage `in-situ' development of slums and use of their land as a resource for promoting housing for all. He also allayed fears of ecologists, saying activities that pose a threat to the environment would not be allowed.

To address the needs of the growing population, the Master Plan will also seek to promote vertical development of Delhi.

The final document incorporates most of the suggestions made by the Delhi Government following a special session of the Delhi Assembly on the issue in January.

Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken announced that under the new Master Plan there would be no more plotted development in Delhi's green areas and only group housing societies would be allowed to undertake construction in such areas. Also, private players would be roped in in a big way as about 55 per cent of the construction for the poor in future is expected to come through private participation.

Mr. Reddy's assertion apart, the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee on Tuesday said it had already issued orders to the MCD to resume sealing from Wednesday of business premises on roads that are 80 feet and more in width. Traders who have not submitted undertakings to stop misuse of their premises would be targeted.

``If the MCD does not carry out sealing from Wednesday, we will have to inform the apex court,'' said a Monitoring Committee member.

Meanwhile, Confederation of All-India Traders secretary-general Praveen Khandelwal expressed happiness at the day's developments and hoped that the new Master Plan would be notified by Thursday.

He said while there was a lot of fear among the traders about resumption of sealing following the Monitoring Committee's directions to the MCD, traders were now hopeful that their premises would not be sealed.

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