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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Unplanned growth, not rain gods to blame for Gurgaon’s waterlogging woes

Dhingra Commission had put blame on ‘poor planning’ and ‘overruling of experts’ advice’ by the then state govt.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | August 21, 2020 9:25:10 am
Unplanned growth, not rain gods to blame for Gurgaon’s waterlogging woesRain water is pumped out through a motor pipe as firefighters clear the waterlogged Golf Course Road underpass after heavy rains, in Gurgaon, Thursday. PTI

With heavy rainfall over the last two days leaving several parts of Gurgaon severely waterlogged, the gaps in the city’s model of development stand once again exposed. Unplanned growth and rapid concretisation have led to chronic infrastructure-related problems of traffic congestion, waterlogging and sewerage disposal in the city.

The Dhingra Commission, headed by Justice S N Dhingra (retired) and constituted by the Haryana government in 2015 to probe grant of colony licenses in Gurgaon during the Congress state government’s tenure, had blamed “poor planning” and “overruling of experts’ advice” by the then state government in issuing colony licences as responsible for existing infrastructural issues in Gurgaon.

About several changes that were made in Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex (GMUC) plans for 2021, Justice Dhingra had concluded that “GMUC-2021 was not made for planned development of Gurgaon but was made for the mutual benefit of colonisers and political executive. The political executive changed the development plan as per its wishes contrary to the advice of the experts”.

Before that, Development Plan of 2001 was initially conceived and prepared for a population of 3 lakh, later revised to accommodate population of 7 lakh and again revised to accommodate population of 10 lakh. The Plan-2001 was executed in such a manner that the city could accommodate 22 lakh population.

The state government adopted a policy of granting licences to the colonisers for the entire area for which application was made, irrespective of the fact whether area fell in the planned roads or green belts or open spaces and 100 per cent Floor-Area-Ratio (FAR) benefit and saleable area benefit used to be given to the colonisers.

Justice Dhingra concluded: “It was a win-win situation for both the government and colonisers. The result of this for public at large was that, at the time when GMUC-2021 was being considered, the accommodation available under the previous plan made for 10 lakh population was sufficient to accommodate 22 lakh people, and the infrastructure was not there even for 7 lakh population living in Gurgaon.”

For rampant colony licensing, the Haryana government had cited reasons of state’s shrunk revenues due to prohibition policy of 1996 due to which the government decided to give 100 per cent benefit for road/green belt areas to colonisers. Eventually, it led to ill-planned growth of Gurgaon.

Justice Dhingra, in his report, had also pointed out the multiple changes in sectoral plans of Gurgaon in 2006-07, again highlighting how the state government kept changing the plans to accommode the builders and colonisers.

“The location of infrastructure was changed to suit the applicants (builders/ colonisers) not once, but time and again to save the land of favourite ones and locate infrastructure in someone else land,” Justice Dhingra had written citing various examples of colonisers and builders.

In a clear indictment, it had added: “All the directions of changing sectoral plans were issued orally or telephonically. In fact, realignment of roads was a general excuse given every time the plan was changed. Directions were given even for changing internal circulation roads of the sectors to suit someone. The changes in the location of roads and location of commercial belt and location of V4 roads were made clandestinely by the department’s officials in order to benefit certain land owners whose land was coming in the roads and they had either already got licences or had applied for licences or were about to apply for licences and those changes benefited the colonisers a lot”.

Talking to The Indian Express, Justice Dhingra said, “Gurgaon’s basic problem is that it is totally unplanned. Their planning had only one mode – create a main road, draw a map marking residential, commercial and mixed use land.

Then the land used to be purchased by colonisers from the farmers. Then colonisers used to draw their own maps and submit to the government. They used to take CLUs, then get maps approved. How it all reached today’s stage was that whoever had the connections even got masterplan’s roads changed. The changes kept happening time and again.

Roads were de-aligned multiple times so that colonisers could get maximum commercial land. The administration, on the other hand, failed to provide basic infrastructure be it sewage disposal, storm water drainage etc.

While people are made to pay heavy External Development Charges through their nose, the same EDC was not at all used for developing the basic infrastructure. There were instances where even sewerage nallahs were encroached upon, taken over by the builders and finally approved by the government.

This kind of water-logging was bound to happen and it will get worse as the population increases. Concretisation in entire Gurgaon is so much and totally unplanned, due to which such issues will keep cropping up unless government replans the entire drainage system”.

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