'Change Lutyens' Zone with caution'

Some residents wary of govt proposal to relax floor area ratio at Malcha Marg

There are mixed feelings among residents of Malcha Marg in Chanakyapuri over a government proposal to allow extra floors in existing buildings, with some fearing increased commercial activities in taller homes.

The proposal to relax floor area ratio (FAR) in the colony is part of a package that calls for removing it from the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ) area which at present is governed by strict rules to check density and concretisation.

“Our apprehensions that there could be blatant commercial activities once the colony is taken out of the zone should be addressed to,” said Vikram Seth, a resident of the colony.


Vijay Dhawan, a chartered accounted living in Malcha Marg, said there were no restrictions linked to LBZ in some neighbourhoods so their colony should also be brought on par with them.

“We want Malcha Marg to be out of the LBZ but are opposed to any provision that may allow commercial activities at homes,” said Dhawan.

Most neighbourhoods proposed to be removed from the LBZ have their local markets so there should be a check on allowing commercial activities in residential area, he said. “The super sensitive nature of the area should be maintained while relaxing the LBZ restrictions,” Said Dhawan.

As per a report submitted by the Delhi Urban Art Commission, on the behest of the Ministry of Urban Development, the LBZ area is proposed to be reduced by 5.13 sqkm to 23.60 sqkm from the present 28.73 sqkm and Malcha Marg, among other colonies, may be excluded from the zone.

The colonies that are now proposed to be removed from the LBZ are a crucial buffer between the green core and the other parts of the city which are governed by the Master Plan, said an urban planner.

“We have to take not of the residents’ needs for an extra floor to accommodate expanding families but, at the same time, also ensure that the central districts green and low-rise character is not altered drastically,” he said.  

The LBZ area of 25.88 sqkm demarcated for the first time in 1988 increased to 28.73 sqkm in 2003 with the inclusion of new areas such as Babar Road, Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar, Jor Bagh, Panchsheel Marg, and parts of diplomatic area in Chanakyapuri.

DUAC has proposed to keep the LBZ boundary close to the original boundary envisaged by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1912 while removing the transformed and commercialised areas and modern colonies, which do not bear any semblance to the Lutyens’ Bungalow character and retaining green areas which were included in LBZ in 1988.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has also cautioned against losing sight of the need to preserve the contemporary heritage of the colonies in the LBZ.

A former member of the DUAC said, “If needed, the concerns of the residents should be accommodated and a special set of by-laws drafted for these colonies which are proposed to be forked out of the LBZ.”

Shobha Ghai, a resident of Golf Links Colony that is also proposed to be removed from the LBZ, said, “The NDMC is seeking embassies’ views on making its area a smart city, in the same manner, it should also respect the residents’ concerns on the issue of redrawing the LBZ .”

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