Liberation & land Pooling in Delhi – A dichotomous relationship

 

“Too many governments, too much governance”.

Sadly, that’s the challenge the landowning community is saddled with in Delhi. Governments as well as it’s agencies are working at cross purposes, thereby inflicting debilitating blows on the potential development & investment opportunity of more than $100 billion, over the next decade.

 

2007, Delhi master plan 2021 notified.

2013, Land Pooling Policy was notified.

2014, India voted a new government to power.

2015, multiple misplaced reviews & changes initiated.

2018, We are still where we were!

 

It indeed was a paradigm shift when the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) announced the model of Land Pooling as the preferred model for the next level of Urbanization of Delhi, thereby unlocking more than 50,000 Hectares of land. Data establishes that almost 60% of the total land is still with the farmer / traditional land owning community. The balance 40% is estimated to be ‘Non performing capital’of Institutions & HNIs to the tune of $6 Billion.

Staggering data as it may be, this Independence day is unlikely to bring any cheer to the landowners of Delhi owing to the Apathy & lack of understanding of local issues by the policy makers. Hence, every proposed change or amendment would only rob the Delhi Master plan of it’s credibilityas the ‘Largest & most profitable Investment opportunity in RE’ for the coming couple of decades.

Here’s the dichotomy. DDA which prepared the master plan & zonal plans have virtually outsourced their strategic policy making responsibility to the NIUA. NIUA seems to be revisiting the policy in totality, which probably may not be in the best interest of the landowners. On the other hand, the Delhi Govt. has announced the ‘Chakbandi’ of some villages, which may have to be excluded from the pooling process, till it’s complete in all respects. The DDA, Delhi Jal Board (DJB), MCD, electricity department etc. seem to downgrading the plans more as a ruse to hide their inbuilt inefficiencies.

Inefficiencies don’t liberate the truth, namely, Delhi NCT has to be developed to accommodate a population of 25 million people over the next decade. The total requirement of housing units would be in excess of 1.5 million Dwelling units. The proposal of the authorities to reduce the FAR would make it extremely unviable for the institutional investors to commit funds to this opportunity.

It is my sense that the policy makers, specially those representing the political arm of governance, aren’t seized of the extent of damage their flip-flop is causing; not just to the Landowners, but also the economy of Delhi. What worries more is that the landowners would exit somehow, someday, but it may be by way of Plotting the land into unauthorized settlements, which would be counter productive to the stated intent.

Do we seek a capital of India which is home to more than 5000 unauthorized colonies? Would we want half the population to dwell in these shanties, than a planned city?

Liberation would mean differently to different segments, but governments should only endeavor to (a) Trigger economic activity & (b) Enhance quality of life

 

 

Ramesh Menon is an opinion leader on the subject of Urbanization of Delhi, He is the Founder Director of Certes Realty Ltd, and an Independent Director on the board of SPA Capital Ltd.

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