Editorial: Developing cities smartly

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Published: November 17, 2014 3:07:58 AM

DDA’s land pooling model can be a template

Given the need for speedy acquisition of land for developing residential areas to support growing housing needs in major cities across the country, the Delhi Development Authority’s land pooling policy, cleared last week, is a model that can be replicated across the country. Indeed, this is quite the same model used by the DMICDC in its Dholera city at well. Right now, the crux of the problem with land acquisition is that farmers don’t get the true value of their land, and this is got after the land use is changed and development takes place—usually it is only builders and commercial developers who have the wherewithal to get land usage changed. In such a situation, it is not unusual that land acquisition should be accompanied by large protests.

It is this unequal model that DDA/Dholera seek to fix. In this PPP model, landowners surrender their, largely rural, land to the government. This land is then developed and infrastructure—trunk roads, power plants, sewerage lines, and so on—created and town planning done. Once this is done, around 60-70% of the land is returned to the original holders; while there is no loss of livelihood or rehabilitation since landowners get most of their land back, the price of the land multiplies manifold as its usage is changed to commercial and important infrastructure is also in place. Once this is done, the original landowners are free to sell it to buyers, but with a vital difference—this time around, they capture a large share of the upside in the property’s appreciation, most of which takes place as soon as the land usage is changed.
In the case of Delhi, DDA hopes to supply 4-5 lakh additional housing units using this process, vital since the capital will have another 48 lakh population by the end of the decade. Apart from ensuring an upside in prices for landlosers, the other advantage of land pooling is that it ensures top quality urbanisation. In cities like

Gurgaon where this did not happen, with no trunk infrastructure set up, large parts don’t even have sewerage and other infrastructure. Developing alternate models such as the land pooling one is important since, going by the progress in amending the crippling Land
Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, it does not seem as if the government is going to be able to make much progress immediately. And even if the government is able to substantially change LARR Act, land pooling offers a far more equitable deal to landowners since it allows a fairer discovery of the market price.

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