Illegal colonies in capital result of bad planning: Kamal Nath

The fact that hundreds of unauthorised colonies in Delhi had to be regularised through legislation is a "tribute to bad planning", Urban Development Kamal Nath said Monday.

New Delhi: The fact that hundreds of unauthorised colonies in Delhi had to be regularised through legislation is a "tribute to bad planning", Urban Development Kamal Nath said Monday.

"It is not necessarily bad enforcement, it is bad planning. I think, Delhi has had the problem of bad planning and bad enforcement. It is just not bad enforcement. What will you enforce? How can you enforce 1,600 irregular colonies? Tell me who is going to enforce it," Nath said at a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) workshop here on 'Review of the Master Plan of Delhi 2021'.

"Perhaps we are the only country in the world which had to bring in a legislation, the Delhi Special Laws, saying we are going to regularise it. What is this a tribute to? It is a tribute to bad planning," he added.

Nath said enforcement agencies alone could not handle problems created by poor planning.

The minister also said there was no scope for lateral expansion in Delhi, and added that the concept of National Capital Region had also put a further load on the capital with people living here, working in NCR and vice-versa.

Market forces have to be considered while planning for urban areas, Nath said.

"Monday, planning has to be driven by market forces. There was an old concept of DDA making a plan, that we'll have a community centre here and a shopping centre here. Now you can't say that there will be a shopping centre here if we can't determine it with market forces," he said.

He said high-rises were needed as otherwise slums would keep coming up in the city.

"Why should we not have high-rises? If we don't have it we make it a city of slums. Where is the choice?" he said.

The Minister said everyone wanted large open spaces but the ground realities had to be factored in. "Good planning cannot be good poetry," he said.

Nath said people were free to move where they wanted and population was growing, and added technology like GPS could help in urban planning. He questioned the "closed mindset" due to which changes were not made.

At one time DDA flats were very sought after but now there is a new scheme on how to maintain them, he said.

He also questioned the same mindset which hindered the development of transit oriented development corridors.

"The LG (Tejendra Khanna) talked about transit oriented development. Now that is a practice followed all over the world. But we will find difficulties even in notifying what is Transit Oriented Development.

"We had a meeting, I said let us notify at least the stretches, then let them plan what should be there. Now we can define, let the public know, what is transit oriented development...But there is some mindset against it," he added.

Nath said there were over 4,300 suggestions over the review of the Master Plan and added that each one of those should be responded to with "cogent reasons". Nath advocated monorail as a transport solution in areas where the Metro could not reach.

The Urban Development minister said that public should also get a say over the change of land use patterns in the capital. He added that the planners should play the role of "enablers" or else the cities will not be livable.

Earlier, Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna said "slack" and "inefficient" enforcement was one of the reasons due to which the problem of irregular colonies had taken root in the capital.

Only 50 percent of the population approximately live in planned areas, Khanna said, adding that planning process could not keep with the influx of population in Delhi.

He also expressed about the drastic depletion of Delhi's ground water level and added that water availability had to be factored in while planning high density areas.

Khanna said the DDA had taken a view that from now on when it goes on to build housing complexes, it will have "insitu and captive, both the potable water supply and sullage treatment facility in that complex." These complexes will not be solely dependent on Delhi Jal Board for water supply.

He added that in order to maintain the common areas the DDA would now charge a sum "upfront" which would be used for 30 year maintenance of these areas.

Khanna said the DDA was planning to adopt transit oriented development and would come up with draft development plan by December.