My friend and colleague Ajay Dabas does quip ponderously that “Delhi was built majestically by the British who never has 10-20-30 year(s) announced masterplans as a futuristic city, esp. focussed on the quality of lifestyle of the inhabitants. Politics of development,, coupled with the serious intent of the class divide brought in inward looking master plans which created Delhi into an urban slum over the past 50 years”.
Sets me thinking – What is it that the British had which we Indians haven’t been able to replicate.
Answer seems to be – “POSITIVE INTENT & TIME BOUND IMPLEMENTATION”
I am not once confused by the British intent Vs. Desi leaders’ direction. Both desired a certain vested interest, as well as the emphasis of their leadership on the so called “aam-janta”. To say the least, both succeeded, and how. Delhi hasn’t created any marquee landmark building, and still boasts of those that the British left for us, to savour, deteriorate and exploit. I have my sense of exasperation when I read that 54% of Delhi is Urban slums and unauthorized colonies.
A spate of recent announcements in Delhi sets me thinking – “are we finally ready to shed the image of an old dilapidated city, one constructed majestically by the British, and left to rot even more majestically”. However, things seem to be changing. Delhi government agencies seem to be taking the “Builder” tag seriously. Moti Bagh, Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, Maulana Azad marg, Janpath, INA, Shahdra, Kidwai Nagar, Vasant Kunj, Rajouri Garden and some more areas seem to have caught the attention for rebuilding projects.
• Is that owing to the acute shortage of Ministerial houses?
• Do our policy makers desire swankier offices?
• Do they expect mega parking & parks for their fleets?
• Is there a genuine awareness, awakening and desire to re-build Delhi.
It is heard that some areas of New Moti Bagh are shortlisted to build ministerial houses, and NBCC is the shortlisted partner who would not only build, but also fund the construction through a unique finance model wherein they would be allowed to sell 10% of the total land area for commercial purpose, in return for the ministerial housing. “The government is now open to the idea of making builders like us construct ministerial bungalows because they want the project to be delivered on time. Also, the government didn’t have funds for the project, so we came up with the idea of building them at our own cost and taking some land to build a commercial complex in return,” said Arup Roy Choudhury, chairman and managing director, NBCC. NBCC has already delivered 50 bungalows and the rest are expected to be completed in a year. Choudhury added, “Players like CPWD are quite understaffed so most of their projects suffer time overruns overtime, so the government is looking for fresh bidders who can have accountability.”
Other initiatives include 7.78 acres of land on Janpath under one of the Green building initiatives of the govt, an office complex in INA consisting of 6 blocks, one of which might house the HQ of CVC, another commercial complex in Kidwai Nagar, One residential pool accommodation project in Shahdra etc. The government is also planning a commercial complex in Kidwai Nagar, though no details are available. The cost expenditure for these projects alone would exceed about 600 crores, as per conservative estimates.
Can expect DDA to be left behind (in announcements only). They also have announced plans for housing complexes in Vasant Kunj Jasola, Dwarka, Narela, Baprola etc; a staggering 65000 residential units with an investment of almost $500 million. Parking lots in many areas like Subhash Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Hauz Khas, Gandhi Nagar, Model Town 2 and Munirka are already under construction with investments of around 200 crores . The project is worth Rs 170 crore.
Now, are these mirages or indicators?