Balancing growth in heart of nation

Balancing growth in heart of nation

It is easy to construct a city as Manhattan with high rise buildings but it is not easy to build New Delhi with green character and organic growth pattern,” says NDMC chairperson  Jalaj Shrivastava.

The head of the New Delhi Municipal Council, the civic agency that maintains the heart of the capital and the country, says, “In our enthusiasm, we have to steer clear of making New Delhi a high rise zone without heritage.”

“Maintaining the aesthetics and character of the NDMC area is the biggest challenge before us,” says Shirvastava, 53, who has some special plans for development of heritage markets, such as Khan Market.

His vision for development in the New Delhi area revolves around using the provisions for increased floor area ratio (FAR) to go vertical in certain pockets and maintaining the other elements.

“There is something which the British built, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Central Vista and the Connaught Place; there also a certain government character to the construction – offices and government staff residential colonies – and a huge number of bungalows,” he says, adding that other areas near the outer limits of the NDMC area could see vertical growth in the coming days.

Making arrangements for parking and serving a floating population of some 50,000, which uses NDMC area for transit and official or commercial activities, are two other focus areas for Shrivastava, a 1984 batch IAS officer.

“Parking facilities will have to go under the ground or will have to be dependent more on multi-level options,” he says, highlighting that these projects were capital intensive and identifying the right model for generating capital would be key to keeping pace with the times. 

However, the bureaucrat with MSc and MBA qualifications does not seem bothered about arranging funds for these projects. “There are many options, including raising funds from public or public-private participation, and we are confident of generating the required resources,” he says.

Shrivastava says the NDMC area is frequented by foreign tourists and the pressure to provide civic services of international level pushes his team a lot.

“We are also looking at international shopping concepts and exploring the possibility of housing street vendors in designated buildings. Squatting on roads should not happen,” he adds. “There should be no spillover on the street.”

Shrivastava also envisages a round-the-clock market that would offer a commercial space that allows tourists to arrive on an early morning flight, shop during the day or till late in the evening and leave the same night.

In the 42.74 sq km of the NDMC, the density of population has been dropping over the past decade. In 2011, it was 5,849 per sqkm and 7,074 in 2001. The NDMC chief says the cost of residential property is very high in the heart of city and this is encouraging people to look for houses in other parts of the city.

“As I see it, we have to prepare for a scenario where whatever area that lies beyond the British-era bungalow zone will eventual get commercialised,” he says.