A common man dreams about having his own home which is not only a protected shelter for him and his family, but also an adobe which gives him a life free from stress of shifting his living situation from one place to another in a rented accommodation. In metro cities like Delhi, because of scarcity of land and escalating land prices, owning a house/ flat has become a distant dream for most of the middle class people.
The recently-announced ‘Land Pooling Policy’ authorizing DDA under Delhi Master Plan, 2021 to de-congest the National Capital Region has, however, brought an opportunity for the middle class to own an affordable house in Delhi. The left-over area within Delhi’s peripherals notified to be developed under LPP has been planned to be equipped with all modern amenities on the concept of ‘Smart Cities’ by DDA. As per the Policy guidelines, a society/ developer should have a minimum 5 acres of agricultural land for submission to DDA, who will develop the whole area and return the residential land equivalent to 60% of their land. Hence, the policy has full potential to realise the dreams of many and provide them a shelter in a congested and heavily-urbanized city of Delhi.
The government has already announced and is planning to develop Delhi into a “global city” and will have at least three smart cities. The idea of smart cities recently injected into the Indian urban scenario is a flagship scheme of the government to create 100 smart cities in India which will help in not only creating sustainable cities but also absorbing the incoming population from rural areas. Given that India will be almost 50% urbanised by 2030, Smart Cities with smarter ways of living and affordable housing will help in solving the problems of urban areas. Hence, Delhi can truly become the epicentre of growth among metro cities and provide not only affordable and accessible shelter but also food and clothes with good quality of standard of living, as the PM has said it as “ease of living”. Additionally, the flagship scheme of the government to provide the targeted “Housing for all by 2022” in the urban areas under PPP mode shows the firm determination and dedication to provide shelters to the lowest rung of the society. The security of having a house will enhance the prosperity of our countrymen and will usher the era of ‘New India’ which is a vision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the approval of Delhi Master Plan – 2021 by the Ministry of Urban Development coupled with the pragmatic land pooling policy, around 22,000 hectares of land is expected to be pooled, which can cater to the needs of around 1 crore population, and will also result in decongestion of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), helping the government to solve many problems of water, sanitation, electricity, urbanization rate, crimes, etc. Already many societies and builder are looking forward to move ahead with their proposals and get the maximum benefits for the people.
Though the recent amendments suggested by DDA in land pooling policy have some critical issues, yet I am sure these will be addressed to make the LPP beneficial for even small entities, especially welfare societies/ marginal farmers pooling as less as 5 acres of land in order to ensure affordable housing. The criteria of 70% pooled land to be contiguous and internal development by Consortium formed by entities themselves have to have clarity. Contiguity clause may hamper wholistic development of the complete area at one stretch and may spoil the essence of Smart City concept as patches of non-contiguous sectors within the same area will not be developed as per the suggested amendments by DDA whereas adjoining sectors will be developed being contiguous.
This will give a shabby look to the whole area and even pose law & order and civic issues, leading to failure of Policy and non-takers of such flats as is being faced currently by DDA in other areas where they have developed the flats despite being affordable. Similarly, formation of Consortia has to be done away with and even internal sector’s development has to be in the hands of DDA, otherwise it will be difficult to have the consensus in the decisions taken by a consortium formed by the developers themselves, leading to delay in delivery of projects which may block the funds pooled by the public making the LPP a disaster and full of court cases. Therefore, before notifying the amendment, the Ministry of Urban Development and DDA should once again give a considered thought on these issues to achieve the idea of land polling in a broad and comprehensive way.
To sum it up, land pooling policy, if implemented in a consensus, time-bound effective manner, will prove to be a panacea for the housing sector. The government has already laid out a visionary plan and policy to provide housing at affordable rates. The execution must be guided and monitored to realize that dream, a dream of home to each family filled with joy! This is the New India as envisaged by the Union Government.
(By Neh Srivastava, Under Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, and President of the Central Secretariat Services Officers Society)