Unassertive DDA dents investor confidence in Delhi

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status of DDA in Delhi
DDA flats in Munirka, Delhi (Photo: housing.com)

“While DDA are owners of one of the costliest & largest chunks of real estate in the world, mismanagement has led to its liabilities exceeding Rs 10k cr.”

This admission of truth was tweeted by the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi last year. As the Chairman of DDA, LG-Delhi is well within his rights to shakeup an institution which hasn’t credited itself over the past 2-3 decades. In all fairness, the multiplicity of authority in Delhi hasn’t helped. DDA neither attempted nor evolved as the single window for urbanization planning & implementation of land. Possibly, the multiplicity of authority helped hide systemic deficiencies. Cities in Haryana & U.P (e.g., Gurugram & Noida) evolved as modern centers of economic activity while the capital of India languished. 

To illustrate my point, let me illustrate the efficacy of time bound implementation of urban planning policies; comparing Delhi and Singapore. 

–       Delhi is 1483 sq. kms while Singapore is about 728 sq. kms. 

–       Delhi population is 20 million (approx.) while Singapore is 5.5 million 

–       Delhi Population density is 11320 per sq. km while Singapore is 8358

–       Delhi’s projected population is 31 million & while Singapore is 6 million (*Reckoning period)

–       Singapore is amongst the global economic nerve centers while Delhi still hosts legacy business hubs.

History

DDA came into being while the private sector was nonexistent in housing & urban development. Whatever DDA built was consumed by a supply deficit market. Buyers paid in advance for substandard design & finished product. The imprint of socialist era lingered in DDA till recent times.

The private sector evolved at a rapid pace and could create a supply surge in surrounding markets of Delhi and developed thousands of hectares of land abutting Delhi. Sleepy cities like Gurgaon & Noida became nerve centers of economic activity in north India. 

The world rapidly changed and true PPP models evolved; governments encouraged private sector expertise & investments into urbanization through efficacious policy initiatives. DDA was caught napping! Mostly by design.

Master plan 2021 (MPD2021) was hastily drafted in by the then government without much thought on the implementation process. To compound matters, far too many flip-flops happened on the policy. The private sector, enthused by the opportunity to develop the capital of the country invested more than Rs. 50,000 crores. Landowners, both farmers & investors collectively have more than one lakh acres of developable land

Under MPD2021, DDA launched the Land-Pooling & Low-Density Residential area (LDRA) policies with much fanfare. With no implementation roadmap in hand, they caused millions of $ worth losses to the investors. 

Over the years, we have seen the Parliament debate public losses, PSUs have been privatized to produce results, promoters & wrong doers have been sent to jail – all such affirmative actions taken by policy makers for much lower losses than what the landowners & investors of Delhi have lost. 

Is it because DDA isn’t held responsible for their unassertive governance & zero accountability towards public & private investments? Aren’t they responsible for saving their own land assets from being illegally occupied? Can’t they stop unscrupulous elements to develop unauthorized settlements on govt. land? Shouldn’t they welcome the billions of $ worth private investment into Delhi? 

MPD2021 was to conclude in the year 2021; not a single large Greenfield project, on Private land, privately invested & developed was licensed by DDA in 15 years. 

By then, it was time to write the vision document for the next 20 years, and Master plan 2041 (MPD 2041, draft documents & maps are available on the DDA website.) 

Policy shortcomings notwithstanding, the ray of hope emanates from Delhi LG office & MoHUA who seem committed to adhere to the vision of Masterplan 2041 and it’s understood that the Supreme Court of India has been informed that the MPD2041 document would be approved by 30th April 2023.

Thousands of acres of land under villages designated for Land-Pooling & Green Development Area (GDA) can be developed as ‘Modern High-density & Low-density Urban clusters. It’s time the plans are drawn on paper & development roadmap fixed.

 
I am often asked – Is today the best time to buy?

As always, the answer is – Only if you have a clear vision of the exit strategy which includes the development timeline. I am happy to help landowners. Let it be known to most that neither would DDA undertake large scale land acquisition nor create the detailed land distribution plans. In GDA villages, there would be one fulcrum institution which would create the layout plan, detail the development economics & create profit for landowners and investors. Of course, the end buyer gets a modern world class product, that too, within the municipal limits of Delhi.

It’s high time that DDA also does a detailed SWOT analysis & identify areas where they transform into a ‘single window facilitator’ for a $100 billion opportunity over the next decade, which includes managing the politics & multiplicity of authority. 

The private sector is happy to help, however & wherever possible.

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