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Exclusive Interview of Balvinder Kumar, vice chairman, DDA

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Set up in 1957, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has pioneered the process of development in the capital city. Now DDA is on a mission mode across a broad spectrum of activity which includes a new scheme that will put on offer nearly half-a-lakh residential units in the capital on the  selling block. Significantly, the offer will comprise various economic segments. Also in the priority list is the ushering in of a process of transparency for all activities under its mandate based on modern technology. DDA vice chairman Balvinder Kumar spoke to Realty & More editor Palash Roy in a frank chat where he says that the effort for transparency should go a long way in the implementation of the Citizens’ Charter in letter and in spirit.

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PR : What new measures have you taken after taking over the reins of the Authority?

BK : We are taking a number of initiatives and innovative steps in the various departments and organisations within the DDA. Firstly, we would like to introduce transparency in DDA and for that computerisation is a number one priority. Secondly, we want to make processes and procedures very simplified so that  people do not face any problem when they come to DDA to avail of our services. For example, if somebody wants to convert his or her leasehold plot to freehold, then they should be able to get the work done without any problem.

PR : Are you planning to make these services online?

BK : Yes. We have already started doing that. Many of the services have been uploaded online and they are already up and running. We also held special camps where nearly 2,000 properties got freehold status.

PR : By when we can expect hundred per cent compliance on the Citizens’ Charter?

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BK : We have engaged Ernst & Young for computerisation of all the process taking place in DDA. Also we have engaged the National Productivity Council for undertaking a process  of re-organisation in DDA, the study for which is already underway. So, once the reorganisation and computerisation take place  within DDA, I think there will be sea change in the way we will work and operate.

Being very serious about the implementation of the Citizens’ Charter, we have a time-bound plan whereby we want to stick to the time limit that is already prescribed in the charter.

PR : Why is there a delay in the Master Plan 2021? By when can we expect it to be completed?

BK : Basically two chapters — transportation and environment — got delayed, but now the environment chapter has almost been finalised, and the transportation chapter may  take another ten to fifteen days and then we will put it before the committee headed by the  Honourable Lieutenant Governor. So I think we will be able to finalise the Master Plan 2021 in another one-and-a-half to two months.

PR : What is the status on the land pooling policy?

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BK : Everything has been decided on the land pooling policy. Regulations have been finalised. These regulations have been uploaded on our website, and then, we have got many suggestions which we are actively  considering. Very soon, I will hold a meeting at my level and then we will request the LG for firming up views on certain issues. So once those issues are settled we will move further up.

PR : Approximately how much time do you think it will take to finalise the policy?

BK : I think it may be finalised before the completion of the election process (mid-May) and we would  like to firm up our views so that when the new government is in place, we can make the  presentation before the honourable minister.

PR : How much priority will you give for ensuring transparency in the pooling process?

BK : That is very important. If we make the processes  cumbersome and non-transparent then this scheme will not take off at all. So transparency is a basic prerequisite for launching the land pooling policy.

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PR : It was expected that DDA will come out with a residential scheme in March after  almost four years. Why the delay then? By when is the scheme is expected to be announced?

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BK : The housing scheme has been delayed because of several reasons. One is of course the elections. Had the elections not been happening we would have announced the scheme by now, but hopefully by June-July we will announce the new scheme. Nearly 40,000-50,000 houses are already under construction and will be  completed very soon, may be within this year. Also, we want to include different categories of houses under the scheme.

PR : So you mean 40,000-50,000 houses of various categories will be on offer under  the scheme?

BK : Yes, definitely we would like to include these many houses under the proposed scheme, and the houses will be comprise all categories — right from houses for the economically weaker  sections to lower income groups, middle income groups and higher income groups.

PR : DDA’s construction quality has always been a matter of concern and criticism. What are you doing to address this?

BK : That is also one reason why we are not in a tearing hurry to launch the scheme. We want to be very sure that we are able to abide by the timeline by which we have to deliver the possession.

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PR : When will be the draw and by when the possession can be expected?

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BK : I cannot say exactly when but the draw will take place within two months of the launch. The possession should start by the end of the year.

PR : DDA has proposed increasing the FAR (Floor Area Ratio). Don’t you think this will further increase the burden on the city’s infrastructure?

BK : No. Because whenever we increase the FAR for various categories of commercial or residential units, we also take into consideration issues like parking and infrastructure facilities which needs to be made available in that area. Also increasing the FAR is an important need so that the increased demands of the various segments of society are met.

We would like to introduce transparency in DDA and for that computerization is a number one priority.
If somebody wants to convert his or her lease hold plot to freehold, then they should be able to get the work done without any problem.
We have engaged Ernst & Young for computerization of all the processes taking place in DDA. Also, we have engaged the National Productivity Council for undertaking a process of re-organisation in DDA.
I think we will be able to finalise the Master Plan2021 in another one and-a-half to two months.
Had the elections not been happening we would have announced the scheme by now, but hopefully by June-July we will announce the new scheme. Nearly 40,000-50,000houses are already under construction and will be completed very soon, may be within this year
Increasing the FAR is an important need so that the increased demands of the various segments of society are met.
In the past we had advertised for many commercial areas and centres but didn’t get proper response. As a result we were not able to sell those commercial units. So now we are now revising our policy.
All these lands have been encroached in the last three or four decades. Now many of those areas have been regularised or are in the process of being regularised.

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PR : What are your plans on coming up with new commercial centres in Delhi?

BK : We are revising this policy because in the past we had advertised for many commercial areas and centres but didn’t get proper response. As a result we were not able to sell those commercial units. So we are now revising our policy and we will make it more attractive so that more investors are attracted to the commercial areas in various pockets across Delhi.

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PR : What are your plans on coming up with new commercial centres in Delhi?

BK : We are revising this policy because in the past we had advertised for many commercial areas and centres but didn’t get proper response. As a result we were not able to sell those commercial units. So we are now revising our policy and we will make it more attractive so that more investors are attracted to the commercial areas in various pockets across Delhi.

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PR : It is said that close to 5,000 acres of DDA’s land have been encroached upon. What steps are you taking to get them released?

BK : All these lands have been encroached in the last three or four decades. Now many of those areas have been regularised or are in the process of being regularised. So this is one area where DDA has definitely not done well for the protection of the land.

PR : So are you planning something to address this issue?

BK : We are taking measures on this. But certainly there are problems.

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PR : Have you started working on video graphing With GSDL (Geo Spatial Data Limited)?

BK : Yes. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them. Work has already started on this front. This will help in knowing about the various details about plots.

PR : Has work started on the digitisation of records?

BK : Yes it has already started. On a day-to-day basis we are carrying out the scanning of files as well as digitizing the records. This is our top priority

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PR: What steps are you taking to improve the grievance redressal mechanism?

BK : We have a very well established and a detailed grievance redressal mechanism, the online system is there. The only thing is that we have to make it more meaningful, it should address problems very promptly. We have a monitoring system for this where I at my level can monitor. Also the LG can monitor this.

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PR : But there is not enough awareness among the public about this?

BK : Yes,I agree. We need to popularise the online grievance redressal mechanism. We need to work on that.

PR : Your passions include painting, reading and writing. How do you manage your time?

BK : It is very difficult. Most of my paintings were completed before my taking over charge as DDA vice-chairman. But now it has all stopped. Now I don’t even have a minute free for painting.

PR: You have recently come out with a book Man’s Spiritual Journey’. How have you been able to take out time for this? And how does spiritualism help in professional life?

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BK : Writing is my passion. Spiritualism definitely helps in facing challenges in our day-to-day professional and personal life. It also helps in maintaining peace and serenity in challenging times.

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