Public Land in New Delhi: Secret Behind its Misuse!

Around 5,484 acres of public land under the Delhi Development Authority is lying unused across the city.

Land is an essential element for economic development. According to some estimates, the state-owned enterprises in India own more than one million acres of unused land.

In the previous article, we saw that how only three Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) misused the public land held by them. Beside CPSE huge tracts of public land is being misused by many other government agencies and ministries.

Let’s see how government agencies in New Delhi are misusing the public land held by them at the expense of development of the city.

Delhi Development Authority

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), was set up under the Delhi Development Act in 1957, to foster the development of New Delhi. DDA handles the housing, infrastructure, commercial properties, land development and sports complexes of the city. 

A survey was conducted for the first time in 2014, regarding the DDA-administered land in the city with the help of the National Productivity Council and Geospatial Data Limited. The focus of the survey was to protect these plots from illegal encroachment. 

According to the survey, around 5,484 acres of land under the Delhi Development Authority was lying unused across the city. The survey also found that 298 acres of land under DDA was under litigation. The value of total vacant land under DDA is around  1 lakh crore.

Underdeveloped/Encroached Water Body Land in New Delhi

In New Delhi, the water bodies come under the authority of various government agencies such as  Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) etc.

According to a 2015-16 report of  Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, there are total 971 water bodies, out of which 215  have fully and partially encroached, 346 have been dried-up, 321 are wet and remaining 89 are transformed into parks. 

The government agencies of New Delhi failed to protect the water bodies from illegal encroachments and instead mismanaged it.

Encroached Gram Sabha Land in New Delhi

The Gram Sabha land comes under the Gram Sabha. The body is responsible to undertake functions such as sanctioning the projects for the social and economic development of the village.

As per the response of an RTI application filed by a Delhi-based activist Rajhans Bansal, around 1,000 acres of gram sabha land is encroached by the land mafia. The land grabbers are sitting on gram sabha land worth  5,000 crore.

The gram sabha land of villages including Dera Mandi, Aya Nagar village, Mithapur, Jaitpur and Neb Sarai located in the south and south-east zone of New Delhi is heavily encroached by the land sharks. These encroachments are a result of the strong connection between the land grabbers and local leaders.

Despite the strong instruction from the Supreme Court to all the state governments and union territories to evict the encroachers from the gram sabha land, the encroachment on gram sabha land is widespread in New Delhi. It is very disappointing to see that land which was meant to be used for the development of villages in New Delhi is being illegally encroached by the people. 

This shows how the government and their officials have failed to protect the wealth of people. Instead, they have mismanaged it and created an artificial scarcity of land in the country.

Once these vast tracts of unused land are unlocked, they can be used for productive purposes such as setting up industries, educational and health institutions and for affordable housing in New Delhi.

Keeping this wealth away from use imposes a cost on everyone. Freeing up all such misused and unused public wealth has the potential of reducing this artificial scarcity of land.

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