Getting back to participatory planning: the Delhi land pooling policy

February 19, 2014 / By

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), an agency responsible for planning and developing Delhi’s land, has recently approved measures for pooling and developing land and constructing housing. Like planning agencies in other Indian cities, the DDA faces an acute shortage of land for development and the little land available is priced so high that it is unaffordable. These new measures will involve the integrated planning of clusters of at least 20 hectares (ha), and simultaneously looking after clusters of from 2-20 ha with slightly different planning norms while maintaining the concept. The DDA will compensate landowners by returning 40-60% of their original land holdings in the form of developed land integrated in a planned cluster. By working this way the DDA will acquire no land and will have no investment capital locked up (which it largely lacks anyway) and will save itself from the difficult task of guarding the land from encroachment until actual development work starts.

With about 20% of the pooled land likely to be used for roads, the balance would mostly be used for public housing, half of it being devoted to housing for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG) of society. The landowners would have the choice of building houses or commercial properties on the serviced land plots returned to them by the DDA.

A sizable portion of the land which will be transformed under this policy will be in the numerous urban villages within the city of Delhi that are in a state of decay. Also, the urban extensions being created as per Delhi’s Master Plan-2021 will also benefit from these measures. As much as 16,000 hectares of land could be brought under development, which would allow the DDA to construct more than 1.6 million houses (assuming an average size of 100 sqm per house).

This land pooling policy will, I hope, play a pivotal role in making available a much needed supply of houses for both the prime and suburban areas, providing accommodation for the marginalised income groups and boosting residential development by the private sector. It should also greatly help in freeing up land for new housing projects.

The DDA now needs to demonstrate its execution capability in handling multiple projects to create a supply pipeline that can be offered to home-seekers. Having completed 1.1 million units over the half century of its existence, it has a difficult task ahead of it. However, if planned and executed well, these projects will lead to rationalisation of residential prices in Delhi, and ensure quality development of the portion of the land that is offered back to landowners.

The overall impact of this policy should be visible over the next five to seven years. Up until recently, the DDA has been pegging its prices at just under prevalent market prices, and much depends on its strategy of how soon and to what extent it wishes to be instrumental in the rationalisation of residential prices and ensuring a sustainable market for all.


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