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Fixing Delhi’s Master Plan 2021 as per ground realities Opinion
Hindustan Times  |  October 10, 2019

Risha Chitlangia New Delhi

The Master Plan of Delhi (MPD-2021)—the vision document for planned development for a sustainable city—is all set to be amended, once again, to accommodate or legitimise what already exists in the city.


This time, a provision is likely to be made in the MPD-2021 to allow fitness centres, including gymnasiums and yoga/meditation centres, in residential areas. A large number of fitness centres are currently operating from residential areas or mixed land use roads, but only those centres are allowed, as per the MPD-2021, which had come up before August 12, 2008.


The housing and urban affairs ministry’s decision to amend the plan comes after the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee’s recent order to civic agencies to seal fitness centres that have come up after the cut-off date. The order has led to panic among owners of gym and yoga/meditation centres.


The monitoring committee’s order has also brought to the fore the lacunas in the vision document, as it didn’t factor in ground realities.


Fitness centres existed in residential areas in 2007, when the MPD-2021 was notified. The initial cut-off day was September 7, 2006 that was extended to August 12, 2008 in May 2013. This was done to protect fitness centres in residential colonies from punitive action.


While pre-nursery, pathology lab and diagnostic centres, banks guest houses among other commercial activities are allowed in residential areas, the cut-off date for fitness centres is August 12, 2008. Anything which has come up after the cut-off date is illegal, as per the master plan.


“Why there is no provision for fitness centres in residential areas?” This is a valid question raised by owners of fitness centres in the national capital.


Instead of making provision to regulate the activity, which now has mushroomed in all residential colonies, the vision document ignored it.


Like banks, diagnostic centres etc, there should have been a provision made to regulate fitness centres instead of banning new ones.


This is not the first time when the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is responsible for preparing the master plan, has been faced with such questions.


Since 2007, the MPD-2021 has been tweaked several times to legitimise whatever has already come up in the city.


Almost two years back, city’s popular markets such as Defence Colony, Amar Colony witnessed large scale protest by traders as the corporations sealed shops for “land use violations” following the monitoring committee’s orders. Over 6,500 commercial units were sealed across the city between December 2017 and December 2018.


The housing and urban affairs ministry had to amend the master plan to provide relief to traders at the local shopping centres (LSCs). The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) allowed to shop owners at LSCs, which are approved commercial spaces, was less than what was allowed to shops which had come up on notified commercial streets in residential areas. The ministry notified the amendment in the master plan allowing shops in LSCs 350 FAR.


Similarly, the amendment in MPD-2021 was made to provide relief to godown owners.


DDA officials say that the MPD-2021 is an “evolving document” and can be amended as per the ground realities


The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) along with the National Institute of Urban Affairs have started work on the Master Plan of Delhi-2041. There is a need to take into account the ground realities so that the MPD remain a ‘vision document’ for the city and not a document to legalise whatever has already come up.