A greener environment, improved pollution monitoring and tackling programmes, more accessible and affordable housing, resilience-building measures to manage natural disasters, and ameliorating water quality and restoration of key heritage and cultural sites – these are just a few of the objectives of the ambitious draft Master Plan of Delhi 2041, made available to the public for suggestions on the Delhi Development Authority website earlier this week.
The plan is one of the key policy documents outlining the development of the national capital and build on the lessons learnt from the previous plans of 1962, 2001 and 2021. Constituted in two volumes, the plan includes overarching strategies to guide the utilisation of Delhi's spaces, boost economic opportunity and sustainably bolster transport infrastructure.
One of the key areas of focus of the plan in its current avatar is the environment. It acknowledges the increasing levels of pollution in the River Yamuna along with the absence of a water conservation and reuse strategy in a city that is already water-scarce.
To address the former, it proposes the creation of green-blue (green spaces and waterfronts) infrastructure to improve sustainability. The development of a 300-metre wide green buffer along the Yamuna is also proposed. A dust management plan, it adds, must also be approved by relevant authorities.
The plan also calls for the redevelopment and re-densification of dilapidated areas, especially urbanised villages and unauthorised colonies that have come up without proper safety measures implemented.
Under its proposed land pooling policy, the DDA will act as a facilitator rather than a regulator, encouraging the private sector to come into direct competition with it, while aiming to keep housing prices low. The plan also envisions the development of 1.7 to 2 million dwelling units in the city's outskirts with further development premised on the creation of rental and small format housing complexes.
A push toward increased electric mobility and the development of dedicated traffic corridors for cyclists is also on the agenda as far as transport infrastructure goes. A redevelopment of the Ring Rail network and improving high-speed and last-mile connectivity through “strategic transport corridors” have also been identified as priority missions. Premium and special bus services have also been proposed.
The plan is also exhaustively focused on revamping the city's economy from one supported by manufacturing to clean industries like knowledge and cyber. Specific shared spaces are to be delineated to serve as hubs for entrepreneurial opportunity, specifically in the areas of speciality health, tourism, and higher education. It also discusses fostering a “Night-Time Economy” (NTE) adding that “nodes, precincts or circuits shall be identified for continuing work, cultural activity and entertainment at night to attract tourists and locals.”
But a novel component of the plan proposes policies for “pandemic resilience” and includes measures to limit settlement densities to enable social distancing protocols during pandemics. The development of multi-facility plots (especially in high density, unplanned areas) that can be quickly repurposed in times of public health emergencies has also been proposed.