Coinciding with the 75th year of India’s independence, Delhi, the capital city of India, has published the Draft 2041 Master Plan for Delhi (MPD 2041) for public consultation. The MPD 2041 sets the direction of growth for the city in the next twenty years. It is especially relevant to take an informed view on the future of the second largest urban agglomeration in the world after Tokyo. The MPD 2041 document mentions the base year population of 20.6 million, which is forecasted to multiply 1.5 times to 30 million by 2041.
The document’s structure suggests that MPD 2041 tries to align with the national-level sustainable urban development policies. With a vision to foster a sustainable, liveable, and vibrant Delhi, the master plan seems to identify the issues at the core but still needs details on implementation strategies for the visions and priorities set out in the document. It appears that the MPD 2041 is built on a trend-based population growth forecast model rather than setting the plan based on a strategy-driven growth forecast. It is interesting to remark that some references suggest that Delhi Urban Agglomeration’s population is currently around 30 million. A holistic view of the urban agglomeration could have presented a better idea while drafting the growth agenda for such a large city (Region).
Standing on the three pillars of economic viability, environmental protection, and social equity, the plan considers the city’s cultural, social, and economic differences, including the unauthorised colonies, high land prices, power consumption, water scarcity, and mobility hindrances. The goals for 2041 are to become environmentally sustainable, future-ready, and a dynamic place for economic, creative, and cultural development.
The utopian vision and reality check
The vision document incorporates all the essential characteristics of a resilient city. It is public centric and based on inclusivity, equity, and sustainability, emphasising ease of mobility. The document has holistically covered the existing, upcoming, and anticipated drivers of urban regeneration and development. How far the authorities could implement these strategies would be interesting to note. The MPD 2041 is trying to do many things across varying sectors. Indeed, the city is trying to touch upon some core aspects that need attention. Nevertheless, from one angle, it looks as if the plan only talks about doing many things. The implementation factor demands tremendous attention. The plan details several urban design standards, residential norms, and mobility percentages; it lacks a clear set of phasing plans, funding plans, and institutional frameworks. They highlight a list of projects under each initiative as tentative proposals, which can be followed through under specific Area Action Plans; however, the clarity of them being pre-requisites for related development projects remains missing.
Delhi is at the core of the region and has various direct and indirect influences on regional development. The MPD 2041 goal resonates with best practices and applications of the global urban landscape. However, the plan’s several different aspects are building visionary projects with no stated time limit for setting up the agencies, operating variables or numerable results. Such elements are only superficially touched. Critical discussion points are the capacity building of institutions, the role of different organisations to overlook various sectors, and the NCR development plan. The master plan is well aligned with sector-specific visions and is ambitious; however, the national capital’s institutional complexity and complex governance system might provide some resistance to achieving the laid vision.
The commentary document on the draft 2041 Master Plan for Delhi by Cities Forum covers several aspects. It highlights the efforts made by the authorities in planning for the city, the achievability of the projects and policies, and identifies areas for improvement. The plan has its fair share of pros and cons and demands a thorough perusal. The authors have considered the objectives’ implementability from a critical viewpoint and analysed the decisions and missing links.