Know Your Tomorrow-Fight For It

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Oct 19, 2012

Friday Gurgaon had posted An Open Letter, commenting on the Draft Development Plan of Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex-2031, on the Cover Page of our issue of 21-27 September, 2012.

The recently announced Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex (GMUC) 2031 might envision a grand plan for transforming the Millennium City, but increasingly voices are being raised against it for basically being a realty driven document. Critics allege that a coterie of builders, brokers and politicians is behind the recent changes in the Gurgaon ‘Master Plan’, that has been revised within a year. The by-passing of the NCR Planning Board is also being questioned.

Interestingly, every revision in the Plan has increased the area made available for real estate development and urbanisation. The Gurgaon Master Plan 2025 was announced just last year; and within a year a 2031 Plan has been announced, with many new residential and other sectors. 

It seems that inflating the population estimates is one ruse being used to expand the urban limits of the City, which as per the 2011 census had a population of around 15.14 lakhs. The current GMUC Draft Development Plan, 2031 estimates that the City will have a population of 42.50 lakhs in the next 20 years. It is an estimate which former Haryana City Planner Raj V. Singh claims is absurd, as it probably means a doubling of the population before 2021, and thereafter adding 1 lakh persons every year in Gurgaon. “After making an allowance for even unnatural growth this decade, it is not possible that every year 1 lakh persons will migrate to this City thereafter. There is no town in India of Gurgaon’s size that has ever attained anything close to this projected growth rate,” he asserts. In addition, an elementary knowledge of demography shows that growth rates slow down once population increases.

Bhawani Shankar Tripathy, General Secretary of Mission Gurgaon Development (MGD), an NGO that has filed a 42-page ‘objection’ to the GMUC 2031 Plan, says that all planning in the National Capital Region should be approved by the NCR Planning Board, but that has not been done in this case. “A large area of the Plan also falls in the Aravalli Hills area, which is an eco-sensitive zone; it would require permission from the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” says Tripathy.

In fact critics say that there was no need to revise the Master Plan 2025, because the planning objectives of even the 2021 Plan have not yet been met. “The manner in which GMUC 2031 has been announced clearly points to the realty driven agenda of the State. It has been done  merely to accommodate more urbanisation,” asserts Singh.

It is being argued by the State that the failure of the Special Economic Zones in Gurgaon has been the primary reason for the revision of the 2025 Plan. But the announcement of the new Master Plan has also helped some Gurgaon builders make a killing, as massive chunks of agricultural land have been converted to residential and commercial use. New Sectors—36B, 37B, 88A, 88B, 89A, 89B, 95A, 95B, 99A, and parts of 37D, 68—will come up near the lands of Wazirpur, Hayatpur, Mohammadpur, Gharouli Khurd, Gharouli Kalan and Harsaru, (where realtors have /already had?) bought huge chunks of land.

Sanjay Sharma, MD Qubrex, says that the manner in which realtors have benefitted from the expansion  as per the new Plan needs to be studied. “This way the original landowners feel shortchanged, and this also leads to litigation,” he says.

Paradoxically, the State government has also attempted to ‘punish’ the landowners of the erstwhile Industrial Zone, West of KMP Expressway, that was existing in the Gurgaon Manesar-Urban Complex 2021 and 2025 Plans. This industrial zone has been suddenly omitted, and converted  into an agriculture zone. Raj V. Singh says that another peculiar condition has been imposed on these farmers – they will not be granted Change of Land Use (CLU) permission in future. “This is a clear case of ‘colonial vindictiveness’ against the farmers who successfully contested against discriminatory and arbitrary acquisition of their land by HSIIDC, especially when more than 55% of the developed industrial plots are lying vacant in Haryana,” asserts Singh, who should know a lot about the Town Planning process in the State.

There are several other instances that clearly point to the imprint of realtors on the GMUC 2031, allege critics. The manner in which Sector 16, that was reserved for Public and Semi-Public uses, has been changed to Special Zone—which allows for development of group housing, commercial and entertainment ventures by realtors—is questionable, they argue. Provision of 200 acres of land for setting up a University in Sector – 68 has been used to justify the elimination of Public and Semi-Public land use in Sectors 71 and 115. All this has been done to open these latter areas for residential and commercial development by realtors, argue critics. Raj V. Singh says that no land would have been better for a University than the land already reserved on the inter-change of KMP Expressway and NH 8, as it would be easily accessible. “The increase in population density of Sectors (part 42), 43, 53, and 54, from 250 to 625 people per hectare is also a move to benefit realtors”, he says.

Commercial Land Use planning under the GMUC 2031 also points to the fact that no systematic and hierarchical principles have been followed. “The town is not served by the hierarchy of a Town centre, District centre and neighbourhood shopping –  but by scattered commercial activity,” says Singh.

It is further being alleged that the area under Commercial land usage has been increased from 4.45 per cent to 4.93 per cent  of the total urbanisable area under the new Plan – and it excludes areas under various commercial hubs along KMP Expressway. If the neighbourhood shopping permitted in the residential zones is included, then this would increase to a whopping 7 per cent! A fallout would be that Sector-29, which was planned as the town centre of Gurgaon, would hardly play that role now

Critics also point out that this Master Plan provides for ‘entertainment’, ‘world trade’ and ‘fashion hubs’ – but they have not been defined. There are no zoning regulations to indicate if they are to be treated at par with commercial land use, and granted CLU permission – or is some other dispensation required for these ‘special hubs’?

“The manner in which licenses have been issued in Gurgaon has been haphazard, with no thought being given to connectivity and concentrated growth. The outward expansion of the City should have been controlled,  and sector-wise additions should have been made,” says Singh. Singh further says that gated colonies, cyber parks and commercial complexes have been set up  without giving any thought to roads, transport, parking and similar services. “The lack of co-ordination between various agencies further adds to the problems. The TCP  should have granted licences only after the necessary infrastructure was available,” he says.

The Plan is also being criticised for pushing the Economically Weaker Sections into particular areas that will have population densities of 1125 people per hectare. With an expected 42 lakhs plus population in 2031, the Plan document provides for only 50 hectares of land in Sector 68 for the residential needs of the Economically Weaker Sections and the low income groups. “With HUDA washing its hands off from further real estate development in Gurgaon, the private developers will never follow the EWS policy in letter and spirit. Instead of segregating the EWS in a distant Sector 68, every sector should have had a reserved area for this Section. They help in running the city life,” asserts Tripathy. He adds that the urban poor are already suffering from high inflation and poor working and living conditions, and this kind of planning will push them into a very tight corner.

Such is the anger against the Town Planners and City managers that Major General Satbir Singh, President, Mission Gurgaon Development, says that if anyone has to learn how not to plan a City then he should come to Gurgaon. “I chose to live here because this City offered the hope of a better life, but everything has turned topsy-turvy,” says Singh. Singh is particularly peeved that no Environmental Impact Assessment of the GMUC 2031 Plan has been carried out by the government. “What will be the impact of massive urbanisation on this area, on natural conditions, on the Aravallis. No one knows anything, or is told anything,” he asserts. No mention of plans for water, power, roads, and transport network has been made in the Plan.

Questions are also being asked as to why all housing development is being driven into the hands of private builders. Major General Singh says that most of these private builders are happy to sell to mainly investors and high end buyers. It is about transactions, not developing homes or a City

Sharad Goel, a prominent businessman, says that the City does not even have a good bus stand, bus queue shelters, public conveniences – let alone no addition of government colleges and hospitals in the last 50 years. “All this master planning is being done to bring more areas under urbanisation. It will be at the cost of existing Gurgaon,” he alleges.

GMUC 2031 Plan has also been accused of violating the environmental laws, and bringing the eco-sensitive areas in the Aravalli hills under urbanisation. Environmental activist Latika Thukral says that it is unfortunate that the Aravalli Bio-diversity Park, that has been set up in Gair-Mumkin Pahar, has been included as agriculture land – which would allow for different kinds of commercial activity. “We have filed objections to the GMUC 2031 Plan, and have also objected to the proposal of building a road connecting MG Road with Vasant Kunj through this Park. Given the low forest cover in Gurgaon district (less than 10%) and Gurgaon city (less than 5%)—as opposed to the target in the Haryana Forest Policy, 2006, of 20% by 2020—the Aravalli Biodiversity Park plays a vital role in preserving and enhancing the green and forest cover in the City,” says Thukral.

Interestingly, the Municipal Corporation, Gurgaon has also filed an objection, saying that this area is a Bio-diversity Park, and not agricultural land as shown in GMUC 2031,
adds Thukral

Atul Dev, INTACH Convener Gurgaon, also says that this Master Plan does not take into account the hydrology and drainage patterns of the City. “Gurgaon has a natural slope, and the rain water is collected through natural nullahs that ultimately converge into the Badshahpur Nullah. However the Badshahpur Nullah itself is on the verge of destruction, and neither this Plan nor Administration has provided for bringing it back to life,” alleges Dev.

Another area in the District where the environmental concerns have been given short shrift is the eco-sensitive zone around the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. The GMUC 2031 Plan allows many activities which are prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone – such as setting up of farm houses, restaurants, motels, and resorts. “The sanctity of an eco -sensitive zone should be maintained by special zoning regulations, and all other water bodies and water courses should be maintained and distinctly indicated in the Plan, for maintaining the ecological balance. Similarly, the whole of the Aravalli Range should be marked as a conservation zone, prohibiting non-forest activity, instead of listing it as an agricultural zone.” says Raj V. Singh.

The critics further argue that zoning regulations are not consumer friendly, and all the amendments have been inserted in a decades-old format. Many instructions issued by the government relating to land use proposals have not been included in the zoning regulations.

Experts across the City, and members of the civil society, citing the various deficiencies in the Master Plan, say that the Department of Town and Country Planning, which is the author of this Plan, should undertake a comprehensive study to understand the City, and correct and update the outdated zoning regulations – as these are responsible for poor planning, and also leave vast scope for dubious dealings. Unless the City managers and planners own up their mistakes, and carry out another exercise to ‘Plan’ Gurgaon, the City will not survive this century – let alone a Millennium.


Gurgaon II



Do be careful while investing In Gurgaon II (new Sectors).
We seem primed to repeat Gurgaon I failures in Gurgaon II.
TCP is in a hurry to grant licences. 



When even prominent developers have ‘exploited’ apartment owners for years now, perhaps it would be foolhardy to expect a hundred new builders, that have descended to develop Gurgaon II, to be more sensitive and honest. No City has yet been developed; we have just built a lot of structures.

Is this the Grand Plan?

State govt. will announce a ‘Master Plan’, then revise it repeatedly till no one knows what has changed, ensure relevant builders buy land cheap in the ‘right’ areas well before the announcement, and then approve the builders’ licences asap; builders will immediately announce pre-launches with known investors, collect advances and IDC charges, artificially increase prices after a time to show other investors that good returns can be made, keep changing building plans, delay possession, delay taking completion certificates, take maintenance charges but provide no infrastructure – and then walk away.

It seems to be all about virtual buying and selling – not real realty. Reality emerges much later.


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