The Narendra Modi government has put on hold its move to shrink the capital's iconic Lutyens Bungalow Zone. The decision to go slow has come after the latest exchange of barbs between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.
The BJP government initiated the move to redraw the boundaries of Lutyens Bungalow Zone in 2015. An expert committee of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) had recommended excluding posh colonies like Golf Links, Jor Bagh, Sunder Nagar, Chanakyapuri, Panchsheel Marg, Sardar Patel Marg, Ashoka Road and Bengali Market from the zone. At present, stringent building rules for the Lutyens Bungalow Zone do not allow construction of basements in these areas and have a strict prescribed building height. Excluding these colonies from the zone would have meant additional floor area ratio for residents.
According to sources, DUAC had sent its final report in June 2016 but the urban development ministry has decided to go slow. A senior ministry official told ET that the decision was "a political one".
Sources indicated that the directives came from the Prime Minister's Office following Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the charge that the Centre was meddling in Delhi's affairs.
"This is not a vital decision affecting millions of people. So we are treading carefully," the official said.
DUAC chairman PSN Rao said the commission had submitted its report to the ministry after addressing the representations and views of citizens. "There were some queries from the ministry last year and these were also addressed by our committee," he told ET. "Now it is between the ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. We haven't heard anything from the ministry. We have even stopped getting any queries from the residential colonies that would have been affected."
Implementing the panel's recommendations would have shrunken Lutyens Bungalow Zone area to 23.60 square kilometres from 28.73 square kilometres. The final report recommended keeping the boundary of the zone as it was originally planned by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1912. It would mean pulling out modern plotted residential colonies.