'Lutyens Zone rejig should not spoil quality of life'

A government proposal to reconfigure the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) area to allow taller buildings and commercial activities has put residents of Jor Bagh neighbourhood on an alert.

The residents of the colony, on the southern fringes of the Zone, say the exercise should not spoil the quality of life in the peaceful green settings of the area.

“The proposal should not translate into builders adding to congestion in the colony,” said a lawyer, adding that the genuine residents of the area should be allowed to add built up area to meet the needs of growing family.

As per a report submitted by the Delhi Urban Art Commission, on the behest of the Ministry of Urban Development, the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) area is proposed to be reduced by 5.13 sq.kms to 23.60 sq.kms from the present 28.73 sq.kms and Jor Bagh, among other colonies, may be excluded from the Zone.

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

“I don’t want Jor Bagh to decay like Maharani Bagh or Friends Colony where commercial activities have increased with rising commercial activity,” said MNC professional Rohit Vaid, who spent his early days in his ancestral house in the colony.

The LBZ area of 25.88 sq.km demarcated for the first time in 1988 increased to 28.73 sq.kms in 2003 with the inclusion of new areas such as Babar Road, Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar, Jor Bagh, Panchsheel Marg, 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/commercialized areas/modern colonies which do not bear any semblance to the Lutyens Bungalow character and retaining green areas which were included in LBZ in 1988.

Urban planners say that the private colonies in the Zone may not entirely resemble the British era bungalows in the central parts but these have acquired their own identity over the past six decades.

“The central districts green and low-rise character, which has been strictly guarded, even in these colonies should not be lost in the reconfiguration process,” said an urban planner.

Earlier, some residents of Golf Links and Chanakyapuri neighbourhoods also voiced their disapproval on the hasty attempt to redraw the boundaries of the Zone.

Shobha Ghai, a resident of Golf Links colony that is also proposed to be removed from the LBZ, wrote a letter to the DUAC and the NDMC saying: “No other iconic city, be it Washington, London or Paris, will ever allow its iconic central district to be radically altered in the manner proposed by the DUAC for the LBZ.”

In her letter, whose copy was also sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ghai said: “The only reason one can think of for redoing the LBZ is, perhaps, very expensive land, some people stand to make money through this exercise. Sir, is this reason enough? I appeal to you to let good sense prevail, not greed.”

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.

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