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Investors in DDA’s land pooling divided over proposed amendments

‘Existing policy not attractive enough, amendments will create legal obstacles’

September 03, 2022 01:16 am | Updated 09:37 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The DDA headquarters

The DDA headquarters | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

With the proposed amendments to the Delhi Development Act, 1957, which include making land pooling mandatory, now up for public suggestions, those who invested in the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) policy remain a divided bunch.

For Satish Aggarwal, who invested in the land pooling policy (LPP) after it was first notified in 2013, the proposed amendments come as “a sigh of relief”. Mr. Aggarwal is confident that these amendments will eliminate roadblocks faced by the DDA in implementing the policy.

One of the proposed amendments will make pooling of land mandatory for the remaining landowners if the minimum participation rate of 70% landowners is achieved, while the other amendment grants powers to the Centre to declare land pooling mandatory, even if the minimum criteria — 70% participation and 70% contiguity — are not achieved.

Policy not attractive

J. Ganesh, a tax consultant who purchased 16 acres in Zone-L in 2014, says the proposed amendments will not remove roadblocks faced by the agency in implementing the policy.

“This move will result in legal battles in future because those who do not wish to participate in the policy won’t agree to the mandatory pooling of their land. The policy, which was revamped and notified in 2018, is simply not attractive enough,” says Mr. Ganesh.

Another individual, who purchased land in Zone-N, echoed Mr. Ganesh’s view.

He also said that the DDA’s move to issue conditional notices to form consortiums of landowners has received a lukewarm response so far.

The conditional notices were issued by the agency on condition that the landowners who have expressed interest in the LPP will have to negotiate and convince the remaining landowners to pool their land within a period of 90 days, failing which the notice will be withdrawn or cancelled.

Deadline extended

The DDA first issued conditional notices to landowners in May this year. According to a senior DDA official, as the negotiations among the landowners are still going on, the urban body has decided to extend the deadline for the formation of consortiums till September 30.

The official added that the DDA has received a consortium proposal from Sector 3 (Zone P-II), which is being examined.

Meanwhile, the urban body has issued a conditional notice in Sector - 8 (Zone P-II) as the minimum participation rate of 70% has been achieved there. 

“The problem is that they are struggling to form consortiums since most of the landowners are not interested in it. There is a provision in the proposed amendments according to which, occupants of the remaining land can be evicted to implement land pooling. Newer legal obstacles will come up due to such provisions,” said a landowner from Zone-N, who did not wish to be named. 

Amendments cruicial

However, a senior DDA official dismissed the concerns raised by the landowners, adding that the amendments are aimed at giving legal backing to the LPP, which is a crucial step in removing the existing roadblocks. 

“There will always be a section of people who will not be satisfied with the policy or the decision to help remove the roadblocks. I am sure that even if a legal battle does come up, they will realise that the provisions are meant for their own benefit,” said the senior DDA official.

According to a notice for public suggestions issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) dated August 18, of 19,074 hectares of land available for pooling, interest has been expressed by 6,973 applicants to pool only 7,317 hectares (38.36%) of land, as of July 27.

Currently, 104 villages — which have been divided into six zones and further divided into 129 sectors — have been identified for land pooling.

Notified on two occasions, in 2013 and 2018, the LPP aims to provide 17 lakh dwelling units for a population of roughly 80 lakh people. While the DDA plays the role of facilitator in the LPP, the urban body has struggled to garner interest among landowners in the 104 villages that have been identified for land pooling, as a result of which no development works have been done on the ground.

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