Landlocked in Peri-urban Politics around Delhi’s Land Policy

Sahil Sasidharan  | 2015 

This paper explores the reasons for conflict of interests between policy, law and the real estate market that resulted in policy paralysis around urban expansion in the city state of Delhi. The present policy deadlock, following a series of exceptional circumstances since 2001, has resulted in effectively halting the formal supply of peri-urban land in this megacity, for almost a decade and a half. By analysing the phenomenon of policy making and unmaking around the new land policy of the capital, this paper locates the principal cause of the stalemate at the intersection of state strategy and demands of Delhi’s surrounding land market. As a result of this paralysis, Delhi has not been able to formally access any additional land supply that was planned for it, under its latest master plan prepared by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Informal urbanisation in this growing megacity continues unabated while the surrounding real estate markets undergo a slowdown. The resolution of the existing socio-political and juridical conflicts leading to the present deadlock is only possible by involving all stakeholders through a regional approach combined with decentralised forms of urban governance. The paper also analyses DDA’s land pooling policy and differentiates it from land readjustment as practiced internationally to find that land readjustment’s potential, as a redistributive spatial planning tool, has also been compromised in this case.