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Translated text of note for use of Belagaon, sent as 05.04.04 as

Mr A K Jain
Commissioner Planning, DDA
Vikas Minar, IP Estate, New Delhi ? 110002

Sub: Suggestion, made under s.10 / 11A of Delhi
Development Act, apropos Belagaon

Dear Mr Jain,
In Yamuna Pushta there is a nearly 50-year old
settlement named Belagaon, with 150-200 families. From
homes, lifestyle and what people have to tell it is
obvious this is not a slum but a village.

Broadly, the history of Belagaon ? verifiable from
documents available with the people and government ?
starts in 1958, when a few farmers with ancestral
farming in Purana Quila area were shifted here on
account of development there. The village started with
their families and those of their workers and
acquaintances. Subsequently some of the workers
purchased farms and some other acquaintances also
settled here. In the '60s a cooperative society of
farmers in Delhi was constituted and farmers in
Belagaon also became its members. A letter dated
22.06.73 to LG and others about risk of flooding
mentions 100 families. From voter lists from 1977
through 2002 it is obvious that the present population
of the village comprises of extension of these very

During 1962-1975 failure to develop low income housing
according to Delhi Master Plan led to formation of
slums including in Pushta. In 1976 perhaps 5-6000
families were resettled from Pushta to Trilokpuri. As
a result of opposition in response to problems of that
round of resettlement, in the '80s the policy for
providing basic services within slums gained currency
and, along with jhuggi settlements in Pushta, Belagaon
also got Sulabh toilet complex, community taps,
streetlights and brick paving. Community buildings,
like temples, were built by the community and for
electricity, under the contractor system, also they
took a community contract in name of the pradhan. They
take care of maintenance themselves and the level of
orderliness is notably higher than in other
settlements. Under the politically announced policy of
1990 jhuggi ration cards were distributed amongst,
along with residents of slums in Pushta, residents of
Belagaon. Later the government won against the farmers
a court case on issue of land ownership, even as under
Delhi Development Act ownership of land in Delhi is
public and not governmental and the basis for
development is appropriate land use, a basis on which
Belagaon is most legitimate in Yamuna riverbed.

Under Delhi Master Plan the legal land use of the
riverbed zone is under category of agricultural use,
in which there is provision for agriculture and
settlements of farmers. As such the village of those
engaged in farming since 1958 in the zone cannot be
considered encroachment and does not fall in the
purview of the court order of 03.03.03 to which the
Pushta clearance drive is being traced. Nor can those
engaged in non-farming activities be considered
encroachers since every village community has various
occupations. Under the lawful environmental and
development objectives for the riverbed zone, land use
of Belagaon is far more legitimate than, say, Delhi
Government Secretariat, Velodrome, etc. From the
perspective of tourism and culture also, the centuries
old traditional ridge-river agro-system and, near
Rajghat, Gandhian democratic principles easily justify
incorporation of Belagaon in any scheme for cultural

That the atmosphere of terror precipitated by Pushta
clearance has driven citizens of Belagaon to despair
to the point that, even without survey or notice, they
are speaking of leaving the village, is a matter of
concern for democracy. With old villagers, fully aware
of the unlawfulness of the procedures being followed
in the current drive, having come to believe there is
no option other than dispossession, who the planning
paraphernalia is meant to benefit is becoming

On the following techno-legal grounds it is requested
that, instead of being evicted under the current
Pushta clearance drive, Belagaon be incorporated in
the legal plan for the riverbed zone:
? Under Delhi Master Plan the land use of the riverbed
zone is in agriculture category, with which Belagaon
conforms. As such, there is no basis in Delhi
Development Act for its eviction.
? Belagaon started prior to 1962 Plan and was in place
well before the 1990 revised plan. [For detailed
planning] it is not unauthorised, but 'non-conforming'
use, for which state responsibility is explicit in the
Plan, and outstanding.
? s.21 of Delhi Development Act requires those living
or working on land required for development to be
accommodated elsewhere as per their needs, as happened
for farmers shifted from Purna Quila to Belagaon in
1958. Slum resettlement is inadequate for Belagaon
under this section.
? Besides Delhi Master Plan, CGWA notification also
justifies expansion of activities such as farming in
the zone. International discourse also recommends
'urban agriculture'. As such, eviction of Belagaon is
inconsistent with planning logic arising from
environmental imperatives.
? Cultural conservation has progressed way beyond
beautification of historic buildings to comprehensive
management of built and natural heritage and
traditions. In the history of Delhi, the traditional
history of the ridge-river ecosystem is older than Red
Fort and national samadhis. Eviction of Belagaon,
which could well be 'heritage village', in name of
conservation is illogical.
? The nation is committed to development for farmers.
In Delhi, to profit of farmers announcements even of
changes in land policy and permitting illegal use of
farmhouses have been made. Lawful rights of real
farmers and their settlements surely merit protection
under the circumstances.
? The process being followed in the current Pushta
clearance drive is wholly unlawful even for jhuggis.
The brazen violation of law, policy and court orders
will demand accountability sooner or later and there
is no reason for Belagaon, not even a jhuggi
settlement, to be embroiled in this.

The legal plan for riverbed zone, without which
development and evictions here are extra-legal and in
view of city-wide significance of the zone also
irresponsible and contrary to public interest, has yet
to be made. Due process for this plan requires 90-day
opportunity for objections and suggestions, a legal
right of citizens under Delhi Development Act. It is
under this right that I am making as a qualified
planner the suggestion that instead of being evicted
in a drive for Pushta clearance Belagaon be
incorporated in the legal riverbed Plan. I hope you
will consider this and am sure you will reply.

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma, Planner

For information, with thanks for discussions on 01, 03
and 04.04.04:
* Belagaon citizens

For information, with reference to letters about
violation of planning law, etc, in Pushta clearance
* VC, DDA,
Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi ? 110023
* Secretary, MoUD,
Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi ? 110011
* Chief Secretary, GNCT,
Delhi Govt Secretariat, IP Estate, New Delhi ?
* Commissioner, MCD,
Town Hall, Chandni Chowk, Delhi
* Commissioner, Delhi Police,
Police HQ, IP Estate, New Delhi ? 110002
* Secretary, Election Commission,
Nirvachan Bhawan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi ? 110001

In continuation of previous letter re riverbed /
heritage, with request to send views to DDA
* Member Secretary, CGWA,
A2 W3, Curzon Road Barracks, KG Road, NDelhi ?
* Secretary, Delhi Science Forum,
D-158 (G Fl) Saket, New Delhi ? 110017
* HoD, Deptt of Conservation, SPA,
4-Block-B, IP Estate, New Delhi ? 110002
* Master Plan Implementation Support Group
? Village and Old basti units

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