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Exclusive Interview of Balvinder Kumar, Vice-Chairman, DDA

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DSC_9656Land pooling policy, Transit-Oriented Development, is now the catchwords at the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). On the cusp before expected changes as far as the planning and development of the national Capital go, DDA is buzzing with activity. In the middle of this, Realty & More Editor Palash Roy spoke to DDA Vice-Chairman Balvinder Kumar, who completed one year at the post on January 23 this year. In the exclusive chat, Kumar talks of his past year’s experience and his plans and vision for the future.

PR. Congratulations on successfully completing one year as DDA chief. What do you think were your major achievements during the period?

BK. During this period we have taken many policy decisions that will go a long way in defining the future course of development in Delhi. Let’s take the example of say, the land pooling policy, which has almost been finalized. We have sent the policy to the Urban Development Ministry for the final notification. We are also going to announce the TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) Policy that will determine development on both sides of the Metro Rail corridor. How will the development take place, what would the development norms be, etc. all these will be defined by this policy. Likewise, we have taken many policy decisions as well as introduced transparency and increased efficiency in DDA. For example, we have introduced e-auctioning of different commercial, industrial plots, parking spaces, etc. Another achievement is the 2014 housing scheme were announced as the largest ever scheme in history, under which we announced 25,000 flats in which 90 percent of the
from the affordable housing category, which one-room apartment in the LIG (Low I Group) category. Also significant is that allotment we have adopted a totally transpa way of giving possession to the allottees. So achievements have been many during the period.

PR. Coming to the land pooling policy, by when will it come into force and how will it affect the supply of housing units in Delhi?

BK. The land pooling policy will be implemented in 20,000-25,000 hectares of land falling in four different zones, that is, K1, L, P1 & P2 zones. We expect that 50,000 dwelling units will come in 1,000 hectares of area. So in this way lakhs of units will come up in that land pooling area. Also, 15 percent area would be attributed to the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) housing. So this way, we expect about 20 lakh dwelling units to come up in, say, 1 0 to 15 years of time under the land pooling policy area.

We have sent the policy to the Urban Development Ministry for the final notification. We are also going to announce the TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) Policy that will determine development on both sides of the Metro Rail corridor.
Another achievement is the 2014 housing scheme where we announced the largest ever scheme in DDA’s history, under which we announced the allotment of 25,000 flats in which 90 percent of the flats were from the affordable housing category, which is a one-room apartment in the LIG (Low Income Group) category.
The land pooling policy will be implemented in 20,000-25,000 hectares of land falling in four different zones, that is, K1, L, P1 & P2 zones. We expect that 50,000 dwelling units will come in 1,000 hectares of area. So in this way lakhs of units will come up in that land pooling area.

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 DSC_9674PR. You were also mentioning TOO. Can you explain how TOO will work and by when the policy is expected to be implemented?

BK. I think the TOD policy should come up in about a month’s time. We are placing the policy before the LG (Lieutenant Governor) for approval and then it will go to the Urban Development Ministry for final notification and hopefully, it will be done in about four to six week’s time. Once this policy comes, the development along the Metro rail corridor would be on a different line. What will happen is that 500 metres on both sides will be the influence zone, where higher FAR will be given. Secondly, mixed land use will be allowed, which means residential, commercial, working space will be created along the Metro corridor and there will be a walkable distance from the office to home. Then there will be far more safety for women, there will not be any boundary walls, the concept of boundary walls will be done away with. So there will be major changes in the development norms that will take place along the Metro corridor.

PR.So there will be a lot of redevelopment the Metro corridor. along the Metro corridor?

BK. Exactly. That is in fact the main aim behind the TOD policy, which is incentivizing the redevelopment of the area. When that redevelopment takes place, obviously, energy-efficient buildings will come, solid waste management technology will be used, and the green concept would be there. There will also be revised parking norms. So hopefully with this redevelopment that is going to take place with the TOD policy, things will start changing along the Metro corridor.

PR. Apart from the land pooling policy and the TOO, what is the agenda for the year ahead?

BK. On the lines of the Government’s agenda of ‘Housing for All’, we are going to take up many areas under the affordable category scheme and hope to start construction on nearly one lakh dwelling units. At present, nearly 64,000 dwelling units are under construction and we hope to announce the next housing scheme by
201 6 ends, and in between we will also start construction in another 38,000 dwelling units. So by the end of 2015, nearly one lakh housing units will be under construction.

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PR. Will you be coming up with any housing scheme in 2015?

BK. Not in this year. But yes, by the end of 2016 we will be in a position to come up with a scheme of a minimum of 40,000 units. We also hope that the land pooling policy implementation starts in another about two months time, then we also plan to start work on TOD policy very soon. In the city, we will take up TOD pilot projects, of which two projects have already been shortlisted. One project is the East Delhi Hub, for which we have sought the Authority’s approval and we have given the work to NBCC, which is a public sector Undertaking under the control of the Ministry of Urban Development. Hopefully, this 70-acre land plot will be developed on new development norms where there would be corporate towers, commercial areas, studio apartments, old-age apartments, and other residential units would also come up. Then there will also be a green area. Also in that 70 acre, one site is earmarked for a hospital. The second TOD pilot project is the Lake City project, which would come up in the Mayur Vihar area, along Sanjay Lake. So basically within Delhi, we want to create smart pockets, where TOD norms would be applicable, where world-class infrastructure will be ensured, which will be developed on the concept of mixed land use.

DSC_9726PR. And this will be executed by NBCC?

BK. Yes. NBCC will implement this in consultation with DDA. They will finalize the concept pian and design. Later on, they will also dispose of developed plots or developed spaces in consultation with DDA.

PR. What will be the locations of the flats that you will be offering in 2016?

BK. Basically, we have land available in three zones-Rohini, Narela and Dwarka. The land pooling policy will also come into effect in nearby areas because both K1 and L zones fall in that category.

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PR. Will you be coming out with apartment housing schemes where there will be high-rises with modern facilities like a club, gymnasium, swimming pool, etc.?

BK. We have taken up one project of this kind where high-grade infrastructure would be ensured on a similar pattern of big private developers in NCR. There will be clubs with a swimming pool, spa, etc. We are coming out with such a scheme for the first time.

PR. There are concerns regarding the quality of such a scheme for the first time. of construction, design, etc. of DDA flats. Are you taking steps to address these?

BK. There is no doubt that on this we have failed in the past on many occasions. But now in order to address this problem of quality, we have introduced prefabricated technology. We are coming up with prefabricated houses and we are also following green building concepts. Simultaneously we are also creating a large corpus fund for the maintenance of the houses, for the recently concluded housing scheme of 2014, there is a corpus of Rs 363 crore which we have set up, and the interest amount of that corpus will be utilized for maintenance of these houses.

PR. What is the total unutilized land bank of DDA as of now?

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BK. Recently we have identified 1,742 developed plots having an area of nearly 7,000 acres of land with us. Besides this, we have another 1,500 acres which are acquired but development is yet to take place. So we have more than 8,000 acres of land with us.

It (TOD policy) will be placed before L-G( Lieutenant-Governor) for approval and then it will go to the Urban Development Ministry for final notification and hopefully it will be done in about four to six week’s time.
At present, nearly 64,000 dwelling units are under construction and we hope to announce the next housing scheme by 2016-end, and in between, we will also start construction in another 38,000 dwelling units. so by the end of 2015, nearly one lakh housing units will be under construction.
By the end of 2016 we will be in a position to come up with a scheme of a minimum of 40,000 units.
Within Delhi we want to create smart pockets, where TOD norms would be applicable, where world-class infrastructure will be ensured, on the concepts of mixed land use.
We have land available in three zones-Rohini, Narela and Dwarka. The land pooling policy will also come into effect in nearby areas because both K1and L zones fall in that category.
We are coming up with prefabricated houses and we are also following green building concepts.

PR. Have you drawn out any plan to utilize the same?

BK. We are planning, identifying and earmarking areas that are developed and areas that are acquired but not developed for various purposes, such as, for housing projects. We are also identifying areas for commercial development. Similarly for each and every plot, there will be specific planning with an eye on the future.

DSC_9719PR. Any specific measures you plan to decongest the city?

BK. Recently the Minister of Urban Development has constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Urban Development. After many meetings, the committee has now finalised the blueprint for the decongestion of Delhi. This report will soon be submitted to the minister, and then work will begin for the decongestion of Delhi which will be undertaken by various agencies. DDA will also undertake many projects under that decongestion plan.

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PR. The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to DDA on the 25-year lease extension granted to Taj Mahal Hotel in 2013. It is alleged that not going for an auction has caused a huge loss to the exchequer?

BK. Actually, this matter pertains to the period before I took over the charge in DDA. I don’t have the details on this.

Simultaneously we are also creating a large corpus fund for the maintenance of the houses, like for the recently-concluded housing scheme of 2014, there is a corpus of Rs 363 crore which we have set up, and the interest amount of that corpus will be utilised for maintenance of these houses.
We have identified 1,742 developed plots having an area of nearly 7,000 acres of land with us. Besides this, we have another 1,500 acres which are acquired but development is yet to take place. so we have more than 8,000 acres of land with us.
In DDA, I don’t find any spare time to indulge in such artistic activities. It was all before taking charge here that I indulged a lot in writing and painting.

PR. You have recently come up with a Hindi version as well as with Braille script of your book on spiritualism. You are also an avid painter. How do you manage your passion and hobbies along with your hectic professional responsibilities?

BK. In fact, I wrote the book and completed the paintings prior to my taking overcharge in DDA. In DDA, I don’t find any spare time to indulge in such artistic activities. It was all before taking charge here that I indulged a lot in writing and painting.

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PR. Does spiritualism help you in dealing with your professional life?

BK. If you involve yourself so deeply in such things, you get inner peace. Definitely, this helps me in disposing of my duties as Vice-Chairman, DDA.

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