The Delhi Development Authority's role is likely to change in coming days. A special committee appointed by the Union urban development ministry is reviewing the DDA Act 1957 to redefine the land-owning agency's role from a developer to a facilitator and regulator. The central government hopes for effective implementation of a builder-oriented land pooling policy as land acquisition has become difficult in the city. In the past decade, DDA failed to acquire any land in Delhi.
In fact, it is struggling to manage its land. The new policy encourages owners to pool plots and give it to a developer to construct a residential complex to meet the growing housing demand. The role of DDA under the policy is limited to changing land use and providing basic services.
Committee members are carefully studying the Act and plan to do away with redundant sections. While they deny that the Act is being reviewed because of the land pooling policy, members admit there is a need to redefine DDA's role. "It's been 58 years. A lot has changed over the years. Many new institutions have come up and there is multiplicity of authority. There is a need to redefine the agency's role," said Madhukar Gupta, chairperson of the committee and former DDA vice-chairperson.
While the development Act of several cities is modelled on DDA Act, the committee itself is studying legislation in cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. In these cities, private developers have played a vital role in meeting housing requirements. The draft Act is likely to be ready by year-end. But DDA engineers aren't happy with the government move.
Officials say the new Act will not only make them redundant but also impact housing for middle-income groups. They fear there will be no accountability for private builders. "The government should make use of its own officials. DDA is an engineering-oriented organization. Instead of strengthening the agency, the government wants to make it redundant," Param Yadav, president of All DDA Engineers' Association, said.
The association has also expressed concerns that there is no representation for DDA's engineers in the 14-member committee, including nine ex-officio members. The committee, constituted in February, is still at the discussion tables. A final decision regarding DDA's role is yet to be taken. "We are not looking at completely taking away its development role from DDA. But the brief from the ministry is to revise the Act to make DDA a facilitator and regulator," said a member.