NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government has put on hold its move to shrink the capital’s iconic Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ). 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 LBZ 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 LBZ 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 media that the decision was “a political one”.
Sources indicated that the directives came from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) 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 media. “Now it is between the ministry and the PMO. 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 LBZ 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.
As the name suggests, LBZ was planned by Sir Edwin Lutyens and included the heart of Delhi — the capital’s heritage buildings, Central Vista and government buildings. The boundary of LBZ has been revised twice in the last three decades. In 1988, the LBZ area of 25.88 sq kilometres was demarcated for the first time. It was increased to 28.73 square kilometres in 2003 with the inclusion of areas like Babar Road, Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar, Jor Bagh, Panchsheel Marg and parts of the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri. Inclusion in LBZ has sent the real estate prices spiraling in these colonies. A high-profile addition to LBZ would be Supreme Court of India, which was excluded in the last revision in 2003.
Businessmen who own homes in the LBZ include steel baron LN Mittal, businessman-turned-politician Naveen Jindal, DLF’s KP Singh, Bharti Airtel boss Sunil Mittal, the Burmans of Dabur, Shashi and Ravi Ruia of the Essar Group, Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, Analjit Singh and Atul Punj.
Credits ET Realty