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Master Plan ignores the middle class

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI: While focusing on housing for the rich and the economically weaker sections of society, the new Master Plan for Delhi-2021 has largely ignored the burgeoning middle class which would now not be able to have access to reasonably priced housing due to private participation in the sector.

Moreover, while realising full well that Delhi's carrying capacity for population is limited and there is lack of vital resources such as power and water, the Master Plan has suggested that efforts be made to ``encourage the population to deflect to the National Capital Region towns''. With the Centre having no say in development of housing in the satellite townships that fall in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, it means that for most of the middle class finding a ``decent'' home of their own could become all the more difficult in future.

This anomaly in the Plan would soon start hitting the young middle class whose family income may be around 5 lakh per year but who would still find it difficult to have a permanent roof over their head.

According to a seasoned property developer, while Delhi has already become prohibitively expensive for the salaried class and government servants, even the satellite townships of Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon are gradually slipping out of their reach. ``The worst part is that builders have already bought large chunks of land in these townships and pushed up the land prices. Also, they have raised the prices of flats manifold in the past couple of years.'' With the builders also having bought off land extending to nearly 50 km around Delhi, the middle class has also been deprived of housing within "reasonable distance".

Emphasis on Transport

But while the Master Plan is silent on this aspect, it lays emphasis on transport from the NCR region as a solution to the problem, calling for "establishment of a quick and efficient transport network between NCR and Delhi''. And ironically, at a time when the standoff over plying of buses between U.P. and Delhi is continuing, it has ``proposed that unrestricted movement of buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws be permitted within NCR by developing a consensus among the constituents''.

It has also stated that a network of freeways or arterial highways for vehicular traffic with full access control and grade separation at intervals be developed in NCR so that criss-cross movement of vehicles through Delhi is lessened. Acknowledging that due to paucity of housing people in future will stay far away and then commute to Delhi for work, it says: "With such a network of freeways, highways, mass rapid transport system (MRTS) and electrical multiple units (EMUs), a two to three-hour movement can be generated which will cover the entire NCR and encourage interaction between Delhi and NCR towns.''

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