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Is Delhi prepared?

Cities offer a platform for cultural, social, physical and economic co-existence and conflict . In the past planners designed cities for socio-cultural growth and interaction. Modern cities in the developing world have passed through a consistent change in planning concept , due to a paradigm shift from a place for socio-cultural conviviality to a political, economic and technological playfield. While European towns changed from artisanal and oligarchic to industrial, democratic and presently corporatist towns, Indian cities evolved through the colonial era where planning revolved around transport for trade and movement and on the other hand totally based on an impoverished and agricultural economy. These towns flourished or abolished by the signature of monsoon and natural resources in the area. The planning was based on social and cultural needs of community living in a unit called mohalla and chowk. As different communities have ruled the country , the cultural and religious requirements became the basis of growth of towns.

Unlike European countries, which had assembly places like town halls and auditoriums, Indian cities used religious places for formal gatherings and congregations. Gardens and rivers were used for informal social interaction. Though presently, towns of India are still areas of co-existence, but increasingly less and less of conviviality, and much more a place of conflicts and complexities. In the pre-colonial era the function of cities was well defined. Clear definition of urban towns came to India during colonial rule. Objections of such demarcation were totally based on maximum use of rich natural resources of India for purposes of trade. And that was the basis of developing transport networks of railways and national highways in addition to water and sewerage networks. Townships grew around these networks and nodal cities.

Paradigm shift from planning for socio-cultural and religious chores as the main focus of the master plan approach, to creating special provisions for economic activity and industrial growth has become much faster in the present decade. Liberalisation of economic reforms have further brought about total change in concept of township planning and development. Population explosion on one side and demands from market oriented economic activity on the other, the trade nodes created by British expanded further as there has been hardly any effort in investing in basic infrastructure for rapid growth of these nodal urban centres. India hosts a numbers of such centres known as mega cities. Taking cognance of the fact that before 1940, only one city in India had a population more than 1 million, by 1991,there were 23 such cities and they are presently close to 40. Around 70% of increase in urban population in the last 10 years have occurred in Class I cities (with population above 1 lakh). If the trends of migration are seen, during last decade migration has been concentration of maximum economic activity only in metropolis due to existing infrastructure of road and rail network. Delhi is one of those metropolises and now a megapolis.

A City that is Delhi

Geographical and climate settings
The National Capital Territory of Delhi sprawls over 1483 sq km (148,300 ha) between latitudes 28o 24’17’and 28o28’52’ North and South West. The Gangetic Plain and the Aravalli Ridge converge at Delhi, giving mixed geological character with alluvial plains as well as quartzite bedrock. The climatic regime of Delhi falls under the semi arid type, as influenced by the considerable distance of the city from the sea and prevalence of continental winds during major portion of the year. It is characterized by extreme dry conditions associated with hot summers and cold winters. It also experiences heavy rains primarily during monsoon. The temperature ranges between 18.7 o C (mean minimum) and 40.3 o C (mean maximum). The normal annual average rainfall is 714.6mm. As a result of its extreme climatic variations, almost three fourths of the year(nine months) is not conductive for living out doors or in temporary shelters due to heat, cold, rains and disease vectors.

Due to its geographical location and political status, its road and rail form a north – south corridor, which connects all the states together.

The evolution of Delhi can be linked to circumstantial development and time. It can be classified as historic, induced and spontaneous. Historic is based on cultural and religious beliefs, e.g.Shahjahanabad and traditional community based villages. Induced developments were a result of urban pressures, policies or plan-making mechanisms, e.g., migration from portioned Pakistan and migration due to jobs in central Govt or PSUs. Spontaneous development constitutes informal residential areas – considered illegal by city managers. Additionally, development in Delhi is linked to four different periods. These periods are pre-colonial (before 1911), pre-independence (1911-1947), post independence (1947-1961) and Master Plan period (1961-1981). During each of these periods migration to Delhi has been circumstantial. Pre-colonial period as already stated was based on traditions, cultures and religious lifestyles promoted by invaders. Pre-independence was related to migration of the British and development of trade. Post -independence was based on migration from partitioned West Pakistan. Master Plan Period refers to temporary migration from rural areas in search of employment. Presently, it has become an alternative, central place for international trade as well as seat of power. The increase in Delhi’s population from 4.1 million in 1911 to14.37 in 200 ia the highest inn the world. Major increase during the master plan period has been in last two decades from 5.2 million to 13.4 million.(Source Delhi 1999 A Fact Sheet)   

Urbanization of Delhi

  1. Urbanisation has increased rapidly since 1911 when Delhi became the capital of the country. The pace was accelerated during 1941-51 when the country was partitioned and refugees started settling in Delhi. 90% of the population was living in urban areas by 1991, compared to 57.5% in 1911.
  2. With rapid urbanisation , the rural area is shrinking; it has fallen from 1157.52 sq km in 1961 to 782.77 sq km in 1991. The population density was 12361 persons per sq km in urban areas in 1991 and 1190 persons per sq km in rural areas.
  3. Rapid urbanisation has led to one distinctive feature in Delhi- different types of settlements. The types of settlements in Delhi are categorised in terms of civic infrastructure, types of houses, authorised vs. unauthorised settlement etc. The types of settlements are listed below:-
    • Jhuggis and jhoparis resettlement colonies
    • Slum resettlement colonies
    • Refugee resettlement colonies
    • Approved/planned colonies
    • Unauthorised-regularised colonies
    • Urbanised colonies
    • Urbanised villages
    • Jhuggis and jhoparis clusters
    • Notified slum areas / Walled City
    • Rural villages
  4. In Delhi, occupational patterns as well as the standards of living vary by types of habitat. According to the 1991 census, 79.48% of households have electricity connections and 63.38% of households have toilet facilities. About 60% of the households have both electricity and toilet facilities,75.7% have piped water supply (individual plus sharing) while 20% depend on hand-plumps/tube-wells. 46.5% use LPG as domestic fuel while 42% of the households use kerosene as fuel. (Economic Survey of Delhi 1999-2000)

Master Plan for Delhi
The First Master Plan (FMP) for Delhi, 1961-81, was published by DDA in 1962. The Second Master Plan(SMP) for Delhi 1981-2001, was published by DDA in 1990. As per FMP, 11.7% of the total area of Delhi (17287.45 hectares) was urbanized in 1958-59, with a population of 20 lakhs. FMP envisaged development of urnbanisable area of 44,777 hectares by 1981, catering to a population of 46 lakhs. This was subsequently increased to 48,777 hectares-40000 hectares were added for development of Patparganj, Satita Vihar and Vasant Kunj. The Second Master Plan envisaged acquisition of 20,000 hectares, for planned development by 2001.

Delhi being the capital city of the nation, is the focal point of its socio-economic and political life. There are functions; political, cultural, and administrative peculiar to a capital which attract people. Besides this, it has also developed as a center of international commerce, banking and insurance institutions and provides ample opportunities to the people for international commercial dealings.

It has been strongly argued at various forums that whereas there is a reasonable amount of uniformity in tax and tariff rates among the neighboring states, the effective rates of tax and tariff are substantially lower in Delhi. These differentials in tax rates with added advantage of better social and physical infrastructure have greatly influenced decision-making regarding location of industry and trade. The articles where the margin of profit is low and transportation costs are not so high, such variations result in attracting buyers from far-off places.

The phenomenal surge of Delhi’s physical growth and the under-development of its surrounding areas, is primarily a problem of relationship rather than a problem of scarcity. For example, the total journey time from Delhi to the farthest towns in the region is so short that no big center of transportation and trading activities have developed in the outer ring of the National Capital Region(NCR). The entire region outside the Delhi Metropolitan Area is thus registering a relatively slow growth rate leading to lopsided development of the region characterized by the ‘Metropolis-Satellite’ syndrome, where part of the economic surplus of the periphery is extracted by the core and whatever development takes place in the periphery, mostly reflects the expanding needs of the core. Under this phenomenon, the region, rather than adding or accelerating its growth went on supporting the growth prosperity of Delhi whereby setting an uneven system tied up in a chain of ‘Center-periphery’ relationship. This relationship helped to raise the income levels in Delhi. Delhi with per capita income of Rs.19,779 at current prices (1995-96), as compared to all India per capita income of Rs.9,321, has the distinction of having highest per capita income in the country. Thus, ample job opportunities coupled with higher wages and earnings provide enough opportunities for the people migrate to Delhi.

It is evident that presently, growth has been totally due to:

  1. Material growth of city.
  2. Metro cities serve as centres for international trade and development providing facilities and know-how necessary for these international transfers of goods and services.
  3. Provides cost and efficiency advantage to business activities.
  4. Provides for a large market.
  5. Provides for infrastructure like international airport, telecommunications, health and education facilities.
  6. Politically a sound and physically well-planned seat of power.
  7. Capital inflows due to opening of international trade.


Evolution of NCR
The Govt.of India in 1961 set up a high powered board with the Union Home Minister as its chairman to look after the needs of the NCR. Further , the Town and Country Planning Organisation (successors of the TPO) started work on the preparation of the Regional Plan in late sixties and early seventies. This ultimately led to the constitution of the National Capital Region Planning Board in 1985.This board was created under the NCR Planning Board Act 1985, enacted by the Parliament with the concurrence of the states of Haryana, U.P. and Rajasthan. The NCR covers an area of 30242 Sq km including Delhi (1483 sq km) and parts of Haryana (13,413 sq km), Uttar Pradesh (10,853 sq km), and Rajasthan (4493 sq km)

Statistical information

Demographics – NCT Delhi
Population increase from 4.1 lakhs in 1911 to 134.2 lakhs in 1999 likely to reach 143.7 lakhs in 2001. Out of which 32 lakhs is likely to be slum population. Migration has mostly taken place from NCR states with a maximum from U.P(49.91%) and Haryana (11.82%).(Source : Census 1951-1991)

According to the 1991 census there were 18.62 lakh household in Delhi. Out of these, 12,200 household were shelterless. There was 18.02 lakh residential houses which included 1,91,386 kacha houses. Delhi faced a shortage of 2,62,824 houses in 1991, which is about 14% of the total number of households.

The master Plan of Delhi 2001 suggests that 16.16 lakh new dwelling units should be made available during 2001

The high powered board consists of the following 21 members

Union Minister Urban Development Chairman
Chief Ministers UP, Haryana , Rajasthan
and Delhi
Union Ministers Railways, Surface Transport,
Telecom and Power
Lt.Governor Delhi  
Minister of State Urban Development  
Urban Development
UP, Haryana, Rajasthan Members
Chief Secretaries Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi  
Secretary Ministry of Urban Development  
Secretary Housing UP  
Chief Planner TCPO  
Member Secretary NCR Planning Board Member Secretary

Growth of slums and squatters and unauthorized colonies
Migrants account for 50% increase in population every year. A tremendous growth of jhuggis from a meagre 12749 in 1951 to over 4,80,000 in 1994 has been recorded. Number of squatters settlements increased from 929 in January, 1990 to 1080 in 1994. Delhi has a population of 30 lacs presently living in these settlements.

Growth of Employment
There has been increase of employment in manufacturing and processing sector from 17% to 25% in 4 decades w.e.f. 1951. However, the trade sector remained around 20-25% although the numbers increased from 1.17 lakhs in 1951 to 6.73 lakhs in 1991. Growth in the industrial sector has taken place in the last two decades with increase in industrial units from 26,000 in 1971 to 1,37,000 in 1999 in 28 industrial estates. It has been during this period that maximum growth in employment took place and production increased from Rs.388 crores 1971 to Rs.6310 crores in 1996 (Delhi Statistical Grand Book). Major industry in Delhi has been electrical goods and textiles. (Source : NCT Fact Sheet Delhi 1999)

The Ridge – flora and fauna of the city
The Ridge, situated in the heart of Delhi, has an estimated length of about 53 km. It is an extension of the oldest mountain chain of India, the Aravallis, entering Delhi from Haryana. The main arm of the Ridge runs north-east and extends up to the Yamuna, while a smaller one enters via Tughlakabad and ends at Kalkaji. The Ridge is only 6% of the total area of Delhi (1483 sq km). Besides this, the other green in the capital is part of Delhi that Lutyen built, better known as Lutyen’s Delhi. Here, the green belt constitutes about 2% of Delhi’s land area. Less than a century ago, Delhi was an idyllic place with the river Yamuna flowing fresh and pure, the Ridge forest undisturbed, green, uncolonised and a clean air provider. Today the story is very different.   

Present Topographical Status
The area of the Ridge is no longer the majestic forested spur that Tuglak saw. In fact it consists of four relatively small pockets of forest. The onslaught of population and short sightedness by planners and administrators towards a silent victim has rendered the Ridge battered and fragmented. The total area now available in the Ridge is approximately 7777 ha (actually 7782ha as evident from the table below). This however is not a continuous stretch, but exists in four pockets, since the range has been cut and ‘developed’ at many points.

1.Northern Ridge
(Delhi University)
87 ha
2.Central Ridge
(Dhaula Kuan)
869 ha
3.South Central Ridge
(Vasant Kunj)
626 ha
4.Southern Ridge
(Asola Sanctuary)
6200 ha
Total 7782 ha

The Master Plan of Delhi – 1962 (MPD-1962) indicates the Ridge as a regional park covering an area of 8220 acres and it recommended that upper Ridge to be reserved for a regional park and undergrowth must be cleared for hiking, the area near Qutub Minar to be converted into a botanical garden and the Malcha Rifle Range on the southern portion of the Rides is not to be touched. Whereas Master Plan of Delhi 2001 (MPD-2001) mentions that the Ridge area which is about 7777 ha should be preserved in its natural state and afforested with indigenous flora with minimum of artificial landscapes.

The Northern Ridge(Old Delhi Ridge) is situated between Civil lines and the Delhi University, with an area of 150.46 ha notified as a protected forest while 20.87 ha has been classified under non-forest use. The area added to this part of the Ridge in 1962, was 3.18 ha. At present, this area (as per National Capital Territory (NCT) and MPD 2001) is 81 ha of which 73 ha is with the Delhi Administration and 11 ha with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). This portion has 4 protected monuments. Allotments and encroachments by governments by government agencies, hospitals etc have been identified as a total of 13 encroachments and 5 allotments.

Water Supply
Four important rivers and tributaries traverse through NCR, (Yamuna, Ganga , Sahibi and Hindon). Although entire NCR is part of Ganga basin, only small portion actually drains into Ganga. Yamuna more or less makes central spine of NCR and most of NCR belongs to its drainage basin. Total capacity of treated water supply of Delhi is 2645 million litres per day @ 232 1pcd against demand of 4765 million litres per day based on MPD-2001 now @ 363 1pcd which is only 55% of demand. Ground water sources have fallen 20-30 m below in South and South Western parts of Delhi. The quantity and quality of water is also deteriorating not only due to exploitation of ground water sources but also due to pollution from industries as well leaching of solid waste from landfill areas.

Sanitation and Sewerage
The total capacity of treatment is 1478 million litres per day with nine sewerage treatment plants. However the sewerage generated is to the tune of 2871 million litres/day likely to grow to 4115 mld by 2001 through 19 major city drains. The sewerage also carries industrial effluents through the same drainage network.

Solid Waste Management
In 1999 the estimated quantity of garbage generated in Delhi was 8,203 MT based on 0.61 kg/capita per day against which only 4885 MT is properly disposed of. However present consumption patterns are indicative of an increase to 11,899 MT and 13,616 MT by 2011 leaving a gapof 40%. The quantity of solid waste that is treated, is done so by using conventional collection, dumping and disposing to low-lying landfill sites. Over 12 large landfill sites have been totally packed with a mixture of non-bio-gradable and toxic wastes of Delhi.

Five national highways-NH-1,NH-2,NH-8 NH-10 and NH-24 converge in Delhi. There are eight rail transport corridors that carry 350 passenger trains and 40 goods trains to and from three railway stations in Delhi every day. Approximatey 28.48 lacs motor vehicles are running on Delhi roads, which is likely to increase to 40 lakhs by 2001.

Traffic Congestion
The total road length available in Delhi works out to a paltry 0.28 kms per 1000 population. The number of vehicles travelling on Delhi roads is increasing rapidly and is approaching 40 lakhs. Of this number, 37% are vehicles that are personally owned. The results are clear, traffic congestion has resulted in drastically reduced traffic speeds, often as low as 10km/h.