Add separate chapter on gender-related issues in MPD 2041: Public campaign

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New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI) Highlighting the importance of safety of women in a rapidly urbanising world, a collective of civil society organisation and public policy experts on Thursday urged the DDA to add a separate chapter on gender-related issues in the draft Master Plan of Delhi 2041.

In a press conference held here, its members, which also include urban planning experts and researchers, urged to extend the timeline for offering public suggestions and objections to beyond July 23 deadline, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The draft MPD 2041 was made available early June on the website of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and public suggestions and objections have been invited.

From creating a ''24-hour city'' with night-time economy, extensive transport infrastructure, affordable housing for all and healthy environment to checking unauthorised colonies and pollution - these are part of the guiding principles the DDA has laid out for the Master Plan of Delhi 2041.

The vision document largely covers the policies of environment, economy, mobility, heritage, culture and public spaces, among others.

The Thursday press meet was organised under the banner of Main Bhi Dilli campaign, a collective of over 40 civil society groups, activists, researchers and citizens, which has engaged in the master plan revisioning process over the past three years, a spokesperson of the campaign said.

Kalpana Viswanath, CEO of Safetipin, recalled that the gruesome Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case had changed the image and perception of Delhi world over when it came to safety of women, and many families had become hesitant to send their daughters to the city for higher education.

'The draft master plan prepared by the DDA is gender-blind or gender-neutral, and for an urban area like Delhi, women safety has to be factored in separately if we wish to create a happier and more prosperous city in the next 20 years' she said.

So, a separate chapter needs to be added in the plan. Besides, other vulnerable sections of the society, such as the children, the elderly, the transgenders, the homeless, and the marginalised, must also be included on this section, Viswanath said.

'If DDA talks about creating night-time economy, it must also look into how safe will it be for women and others to step out at late night,' she added.

A senior DDA official, when contacted, said the draft Master Plan of Delhi 2041 is in public domain and people can send us any suggestions or objections.

'We will be releasing a charter of demands and recommendations to make the city planning process more participatory and inclusive,' the collective said in a statement.

'As a collective, we would be particularly highlighting the needs of marginalised groups, such as the homeless and residents of informal settlements, informal and migrant workers, women, and other such groups who are most often excluded from the formal planning process,' it said.

Gautam Bhan of Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) said, besides demanding extension of 45-day deadline to submit public suggestions and objections till at least three months, the 'baseline studies referred to while making the draft have not been made public yet'.

'So, if the baseline studies are put in public domain, from that day the public suggestions and objections window should be considered. Besides, the approach should be area-based and not population-based, as needs of Lutyens Bungalow Zone is different from that of Badarpur area,' he said.

Other experts spoke on creating a more inclusive and equitable city by factoring in the state of workers in informal sectors, many of whom are very vulnerable sections.

Subhadra Pandey of SEWA Bharat spoke about the needs of home-based workers and domestic workers.

'The multi-facility centre at community level is very welcome, especially for the livelihoods of home-based workers, but how will the plan ensure that the provision is used for this need,' she asked.

Other speakers talked about the provisions for the homeless in the draft plan, saying the maximum impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the homeless.

What provision has the MPD-2041 made to prevent the homeless of Delhi from bearing the brunt of any future disasters and epidemics, they asked. PTI KND KJ

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