The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB)

The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB)

The Challenges Facing a Strong, Progressive Agency

Shahana Sheikh and Subhadra Banda, May 2014
Suggested Citation: Shahana Sheikh and Subhadra Banda, ‘The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB): The Challenges Facing a Strong, Progressive Agency’. A report of the Cities of Delhi project, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi (May 2014).


Key Findings

  • By far the largest share of the DUSIB budget, a little over 63 percent, is spent relocating JJCs, including construction of flats under JNNURM.
  • A range of actors inside and outside of DUSIB reflect an overwhelming perception of the agency and its predecessor as marginal and weak.
  • Despite its clear mandate, DUSIB has limited capacity to effect improvement on the ground, and there has been little effort to increase that capacity.
  • The DUSIB Act, which appears to have been a sweeping mandate for coordinating all relocation of JJCs in Delhi is, upon closer examination and after subsequent government orders, dramatically limited. The DUSIB only has oversight over one third of JJCs in the city.
  • Prioritisation of a JJC for rehabilitation has very little to do with improving conditions and services in the settlement, but rather is based on the respective land-owning agency’s need for the land.
  • It is clear that the DUSIB has not been able to cope with a core element of its central mandate: to provide adequate EWS housing for relocated JJC residents. By the end of 2014, DUSIB should have 88,000 flats ready for occupancy. Even if construction of the reported 40,000 EWS flats is complete by the end of 2014, the DUSIB will still face a gap of 25,000 EWS flats.
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There are seven officially-designated types of unplanned settlement in Delhi, but even the most conservative estimates suggest that just three of these categories house nearly half of Delhi’s population.1 Since 2010, these three settlement types—slum designated areas (SDAs), jhuggi jhopri clusters (JJCs), and resettlement colonies—have been served by a single government body, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB). All three of these settlement types are marked by poor levels of basic service provisioning, and varying degrees of contestation around land tenure. The last several decades have seen a range of policy proposals designed to remedy these problems, but few real changes have resulted.
 
Since its creation in 2010, the DUSIB has been at the centre of implementing these plans and has emerged as a key interlocutor in the negotiations between residents of these areas and various state actors. To fully understand how residents access services and how they are governed, it is necessary to unpack this institution, its mandate, its functions, and its limitations. This report explores the organisational structure of the DUSIB and the regulatory framework within which it operates, analysing the legislation that created the Board, the ensuing administrative orders that have shaped its evolution, and the reality of its actions on the ground. The DUSIB has an expansive mandate, but one function rises to the fore in terms of allocation of resources and public profile: the relocation and resettlement of the jhuggi jhopri clusters (JJCs) that house around 4.2 lakh households in Delhi.2 This is a process that directly confronts the rights and citizenship of JJC residents, and observing its execution offers insight into how the DUSIB conceptualises its mandate and enacts it across the city.

History

Many of the DUSIB’s defining features can be traced back decades before its creation. Until 2010, many of the responsibilities of the DUSIB rested with the Slum and Jhuggi-Jhopri (JJ) Department, which was set up as a part of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in 1962. The Slum and JJ Department was not set up under any specific statute but was given responsibility for implementing the provisions set out in the 1956 Slum Areas (Improvement & Clearance) Act. It was never a stable agency: in 1967 the Slum and JJ Department was transferred from the MCD to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), from municipal to central control.3 And between 1974 and 1980 it was transferred back and forth between the MCD and the DDA, finally moving back to the MCD in September 1992.

In 2008 the MCD rejected a proposal from the Delhi government “to split and decentralise the MCD and to establish a separate agency for slum and urban poverty concerns”.4 Two years later, however, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) was set up under the DUSIB Act, which was passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) on 1 April 2010. The Act came into force by the order of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi on 1 July 2010.5

Yet, despite this seemingly firm legislative foundation, conversations with a range of actors inside and outside of DUSIB reflect an overwhelming perception of the agency and its predecessor as marginal and weak.

A DUSIB executive engineer, who was first hired as a junior engineer with the Slum and JJ Department, described the department as a step child: “Slum vibhaag ko sauteli aulad jaisa treatment mila hai – kabhi maa ke saath rakh diya, kabhi baap ke saath, kabhi kisi aur ke saath.”6 [“The Slum and JJ Department has been treated like a step child—sometimes kept with the mother, sometimes with the father, sometimes with someone else.”]

This sentiment was echoed across the former Department’s leadership, who see no real change in this status since the creation of the DUSIB. A top official termed the Slum and JJ Department, “a floating department”, sometimes under the DDA and sometimes under the MCD. He described the Board and Department as isomorphic, saying that the staff has remained the same even though the department has been moved around and renamed. Even where “shifts” have taken place, he reported, they are only “procedural changes”—the functions have not changed.7

The DUSIB Act

The 2010 DUSIB Act was path breaking: it was the first legislation to clearly define the government functions necessary to improve JJCs in a single place. Unlike most urban governance in Delhi, in which a single area of responsibility is parsed among numerous agencies across different levels of government, the DUSIB Act brought a range of related functions under a single legislative roof. Despite this innovative policy move, interviews with DUSIB officials consistently reflect a feeling that little was actually achieved. In practice, they report, the DUSIB is effectively a renamed Slum and JJ Department. As one engineer put it, “even though the department has been moved around, the main motive of the Slum and JJ Department has remained the same.”8

This “main motive” is the DUSIB’s core function, a range of activities focused around jhuggi jhopri clusters (JJCs). These include the following: survey of jhuggi jhopri bastis (slum areas), removal and resettlement of jhuggi jhopri bastis, plans for improvement of jhuggi jhopri bastis, plans for redevelopment of jhuggi jhopri bastis, housing schemes for the people who are resettled, and constituting Basti Vikas Samitis (Basti Development Councils). While the constitution of Basti Vikas Samitis has not been defined in the Act, their purpose has been. The Act explains them as bodies designed “to assist and advise the Board on matters relating to the activities of the Board in respect of such basti or basti.”9 From this and conversations with the staff of DUSIB, one can assume that these samitis (councils) are a platform for community participation, designed to involve the residents of a basti in the DUSIB’s functions.

The Act clearly sets out DUSIB’s main functions as developing schemes for improvement, resettlement, and housing for residents of JJCs. These mandates are widely grouped under the umbrella of ‘slum rehabilitation’, a phrase used by the government to refer broadly to schemes that aim to improve conditions for residents of slums and JJCs, including both relocation of these residents and improving conditions in the same place, or ‘in situ upgradation’.

These are complex functions that require certain powers to intervene effectively in jhuggi jhopri bastis. As such, the Act provides DUSIB with two broad mandates: the power to survey and the power to evict.

Survey data are central to any type of slum rehabilitation; such data are a key factor in deciding whether a given resident is eligible for the benefits of the rehabilitation at hand. Experience also clearly indicates that survey data have served as metrics for dispossession,10 frequently used as a tool to exclude residents from benefits. The power to survey alone makes DUSIB a critical force in the lives of basti residents.

The DUSIB Act empowers the Board with the authority to survey any JJC to determine population as well as a range of indicators from health and sanitation to presence of education and medical facilities. The power is quite broad, including in the Board’s purview “any other matter which may appear necessary to it to enable it to perform its functions under this Act.”11

The DUSIB Act gives the Board power to evict in JJCs, as long as it provides rationale and proper notice.12 It sets out a minimum fifteen-day notice period, on the expiry of which the DUSIB may “evict that person from, and take possession of, the public premises [land on which a JJC sits] and may, for that purpose, use such force as may be necessary.”13

With regards to the function of “removal and resettlement” of JJCs, the Act mandates that a plan for removal and resettlement of a jhuggi jhopri basti does not require consent from its residents.14 The Act does, however, provide for the constitution of the Basti Vikas Samitis, the community council described above. One top DUSIB official explained this function as “community participation through constitution of Basti Vikas Samitis”.15 In other words, while the DUSIB does pay some attention to the idea of ‘community participation,’ at the end of the day its actions do not depend on the community’s agreement.

It is not clear what the Basti Vikas Samitis’ role is: while the Act refers to regulations for the constitution of these bodies, it does not articulate these regulations. Rather, it gives the DUSIB broad power to do so itself; the DUSIB has yet to frame any procedure in this area.16 There is in effect no legislative provision that ensures community participation. So, while the inclusion of the Basti Vikas Samitis might make the Act appear progressive in this regard, it does not actually include JJC community input in its proceedings.

Definition of Slum

Although ‘JJC’ is used interchangeably with ‘slum’ in many contexts, the two terms refer to separate types of settlements in the categorical hierarchy set out by the Delhi government. It is important to emphasize that the DUSIB’s jurisdiction does not include ‘slums’, a category defined by the 1956 Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act. These ‘notified’ slums are given administrative recognition that guarantees a certain level of basic service provision and due procedure in the case of eviction and rehabilitation. In Delhi, the last settlement to be identified as a ‘slum’ under this Act was notified in 1994.17 Of the remaining, non-notified, slum-like settlements in Delhi, a subset have been officially designated as JJCs; this includes about 42000018 homes. This fact provides important insight into the government’s attitude towards these communities. Despite a large increase in the population living in these settlements, the government has not made much effort to improve their legal status in two decades. Instead, the government has allowed the growing population to fall into the least-protected category of JJC, if it is recognised at all. Until the DUSIB Act of 2010, there was no legislation that dealt with JJCs; the term jhuggi jhopri cluster (JJC) and its variations were used in administrative orders, but there was no legislative backing for the category. In other words, JJCs and their approximately 1.5 million residents received legislative recognition only in 2010.

This 2010 Act gives new clarity to many of the tasks set out in the 1956 Act, and there is some overlap between the two. Together, they articulate standing policy for ‘improving’ slum-like areas in Delhi (those which have been notified under the 1956 Act and JJCs listed by the DUSIB). A careful comparison of the two Acts follows.

 

Slum Areas (Improvement  and Clearance) Act, 1956 DUSIB Act, 2010
What is a slum or JJC? The 1956 Act defines a slum as a place “in any respect unfit for human habitation”; or places that “are by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangement and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of streets, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or any combination of these factors, are detrimental to safety, health or morals”.
 

The factors that go into deciding whether or not they are “unfit for human habitation” are the following:

(a) Repair

(b) Stability

(c) Freedom from damp

(d) Natural light and air

(e) Water supply

(f) Drainage and sanitary conveniences

(g) Facilities for storage, preparation, and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water

The definition of a jhuggi jhopri basti in the DUSIB Act retains two bits of the same definition: (i) the group of jhuggis is unfit for human habitation;(ii) it has to have been inhabited “at least by fifty households as existing on 31st March, 2002”.
 

The definition allows the Board to notify any jhuggi or jhuggis scattered in the nearby areas as part of a nearby jhuggi jhopri basti.

Who will undertake improvement? The Slum and JJ Board All schemes will be prepared by the DUSIB, which may allow the owner of the land to execute the scheme (Section 12-4). 
What comes within the ambit of improvement? Necessary repairs; structural alterations; provision of light points and water taps; construction of drains, open or covered; provision of latrines; provision of additional or improved fixtures or fittings; opening up or paving of court yards; and removal of rubbish. Provision of toilets; bathing facilities; improvement of drainage; provision of water supply; street paving, and provision of dustbins, or sites for garbage collection; street lighting, and provision of any like facilities.
Who pays? Charges can be recovered from residents. Charges can be recovered from residents (as fees or labour) if scheme is published (Section 10).

 

DUSIB Today

Composition of the Board of DUSIB:
  • Chief Minister, Chairperson
  • Minister-in-charge, Vice Chairperson
  • 3 Members of Legislative Assembly
  • 2 Members of Municipal Corporations19
  • Chief Executive Officer, DUSIB
  • Vice Chairman, DDA
  • Commissioner , MCD20
  • CEO, DJB
  • Chairperson , NDMC
  • Member (Engineer)
  • Member (Finance)
  • Member (Administration)
  • Member (Power)
  • Secretary in-charge of concerned department of GNCTD
  • Representative of Ministry of Urban Development, GOI
  • Two experts on urban planning and urban matters
The DUSIB is governed by a board composed of elected representatives, representatives from administrative bodies such as the DDA, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), the MCD, and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), and various nominated members in specialised areas such as engineering, finance, administration, and power. The board’s makeup—including representatives from the local government bodies, central government, and elected representatives from state government—suggests that while the DUSIB is an agency of the state government, it is designed to work closely with all three levels of government.

Although today the DUSIB is headed by a chief executive officer (CEO), in the initial few months of the DUSIB’s existence its chief was designated ‘special officer’. Since its foundation, there have been five CEOs; interestingly, the DUSIB’s first-ever chief executive is also the current CEO of DUSIB. The CEO manages four departments: administrative, finance, vigilance and law, and engineering.


Source: DUSIB’s website, accessed January 201421

 

Engineering Department

The engineering department carries out the DUSIB’s core mission, responsible for actual implementation of various projects and works in settlements across the city. An examination of the organisational structure of this department indicates that it is poorly staffed, with little being done to correct this situation. The engineering department is headed by ‘member (engineering)’, who oversees two chief engineers, each responsible for a jurisdictional zone. Each zone is further divided into two ‘circles’, with a superintending engineer overseeing each.22 Three additional superintending engineers work in other departments to fulfil specific responsibilities: quality control and coordination (part of the administrative department); “E&M” (unelaborated, possibly evaluation and management); and RAY (Rajiv Awas Yojana) and monitoring.23

Approximately 20 executive engineers also work in the department. 12 of these are responsible for a sub-unit of a circle called a ‘DUSIB division’, viz. C-1, C-2 … C-12.24 Each of these divisions includes between five and eight Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) constituencies.25 The other eight executive engineers have responsibilities that cut across zonal divisions.

Details of the current complement of assistant engineers and junior engineers under each executive engineer are not available on the DUSIB’s website. As per interviews, the sanctioned staff strength is five assistant engineers (AEs) and three or four junior engineers (JEs) under each assistant engineer.26 An executive engineer described how the work is divided between the AE and JE: “For a typical work that has to be performed, the JE puts up the estimates and then the AE checks the estimates; later when the work is being undertaken, the JE is posted at the work sites to supervise the work and the AE’s main responsibility is to do the quality assurance.”27

Interviews with executive engineers indicate that at present, each executive engineer supervises six or seven AEs and very few or no JEs.28 DUSIB is not currently hiring JEs to fill this gap; the reasons for this failure remain unclear to the executive engineers, who claim that they have made several requests for the same since the short staffing is impacting efficiency.29

Despite its clear mandate, DUSIB has limited capacity to effect improvement on the ground, and there has been little effort to increase that capacity. A simple calculation based on the number of engineers at DUSIB and the population living in JJCs suggests that at present, there is only one DUSIB engineer for every 10,000 JJC residents. This ratio would, of course, be even more skewed if we were to include populations of slum designated areas and resettlement colonies.

The engineering department is supported by other departments of the DUSIB, including the administrative department, finance department and the vigilance department.

Core Activities

Today, the DUSIB’s core activities include the following:30
  • Providing civic amenities in JJCs (through the Environmental Improvement in Urban Slums scheme)
  • Providing community services through the Basti Vikas Kendras (slum improvement offices), community halls, and Shishu Vatikas (crèches)
  • Development works in resettlement colonies
  • Improvement of private katras (buildings)
  • In-situ development of JJCs (under the Rajiv Awas Yojana)
  • Operation and management of night shelters
  • Establishing and managing pay-and-use Jan Suvidha Kendras (Community Toilet Complexes)
  • Relocation of JJCs (as DUSIB is the nodal agency for JNNURM (BSUP) Scheme) including construction of EWS31 flats under JNNURM32 (also known as rehabilitation)

Out of this broad range of activities, it is the relocation of JJCs that most readily touches on residents’ rights and demonstrates their profound vulnerability to bureaucratic power. Out of the entire DUSIB budget, which covers all the activities listed above, by far the largest share, a little over 63 percent, is spent relocating JJCs, including construction of flats under JNNURM.

The scheme to relocate and resettle residents of JJCs in Delhi began in the 1960s. Under this scheme, residents of JJCs found eligible for relocation are leased plots of land33 at a ‘resettlement colony’. Since the 1960s, there have been at least three waves of JJC relocation in Delhi, the first between 1962 and 1970 and second in the mid 1970s. The rationale for both these waves was broadly ‘slum clearance’, the second wave being characterised by the imposition of Emergency across India.34  The third wave of relocation started in the early 1990s and continued until 2007. This last wave consisted of relocations often undertaken when a land-owning agency (LOA) required land for specific purpose. During the 2000s, many land-owning agencies needed land for construction of infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games, held in Delhi in 2010; an estimated 217 JJCs were impacted by this alone, affecting 50,000 homes.35

As a consequence of these relocations, resettlement colonies were established in Delhi, and while those established in the 1960s were fairly central—within 10 kilometres of the city centre—those established in the past two decades have been between 15 and 30 kilometres outside the centre.36 In the 1960s and 1970s, resettlement plots ranged from 25 sq. yards (21 sq. m.) to 80 sq. yards (60 sq. m.); by the 2000s, the size of these plots had decreased to 18 or 12.5 sq. m.37

2007 marked an important shift in Delhi’s relocation policy; the government moved from giving plots to displaced residents to issuing them flats. One DUSIB engineer attributed this shift to land scarcity: “Earlier the approach towards EWS [economically weaker segments] was to provide the jhuggi people with 12.5 or 18 sq. m. plots. In 2007, the Delhi Government understood that there is land scarcity and it is not possible to give everyone plots … so it was decided to give them flats only.”38

It was only after this turn that the DUSIB entered the picture, empowered by the 2010 DUSIB Act and a series of government orders with a mandate at once broad and restricted.39 The latest, a February 2013 GNCTD order, set out additional guidelines for rehabilitation of JJC residents, naming the DUSIB as “the Nodal Agency for relocation/ rehabilitation of JJCs in respect to lands belonging to MCD and Delhi Government and its Departments/ Agencies”.40 In other words, the DUSIB was firmly in charge of the process in JJCs located on state and municipal land in Delhi, but, the order added, in cases of JJCs on central government land, the land-owning agencies “may either carry out the relocation/ rehabilitation themselves as per the policy of the Delhi Government or may entrust the job to the DUSIB”. It is important to note that this instruction is at most exhortatory, given that the central agencies that own land in Delhi—DDA, CPWD, Railways, and L&DO—are beyond the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. An analysis of DUSIB’s data on the JJCs in Delhi suggests that about 63 percent of the land-on which JJCs are located is owned by agencies of the central government and that a little over two-thirds of all JJCs sit on this land.


Land-Owning Agencies of JJCs in Delhi
 
Level of Government Land-owning Agencies Percent of All JJC Land Area in Delhi Percent of JJCs in Delhi
Central DDA, Railways, CPWD, L&DO, Cantonment Board 63 67
State DUSIB, PWD, Forest, Revenue, DJB, Flood Control Department 32 23
Local MCD, NDMC 5 10

Source: DUSIB’s List of 685 JJCs in Delhi, 2011


In effect, this order limits the DUSIB’s coordinating power as the ‘nodal agency’ for relocation of JJCs to those located on land belonging to state and local agencies, or one third of JJCs in the city. Further, in those cases where central land-owning agencies (LOAs) have the option to enlist the DUSIB, experience shows that these LOAs usually undertake operations unilaterally. What appears to have been a sweeping mandate for coordinating all relocation of JJCs in Delhi is, upon closer examination and after subsequent government orders, dramatically limited. Nonetheless, the DUSIB’s policies are intended to be a model for relocation across the city; examining their contours explains the process that, in some sense, the government holds to be the ideal procedure for ‘improving’ the city’s slum-like areas.
 
According to DUSIB procedure, two levels of selection must occur before actual relocation: first, a JJC must be chosen for the purpose, and, second, a decision must be taken on the eligibility of a resident household. The first determines settlement-level eligibility and the second household-level eligibility.
 
Since 2010, this first level of selection has been handled by the DUSIB, which was given the responsibility of preparing a priority list of JJCs for eviction by a series of cabinet decisions.41 According to a top DUSIB official, prioritisation of JJCs for relocation is determined based on two criteria: (1) on the basis of a list that the Delhi Government gives the DUSIB, drawn from requests made by different LOAs to remove jhuggis on their; and (2) direct requests made to the DUSIB by LOAs that want jhuggis cleared from their land.42  

A 2013 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) makes this same observation, stating that, “[DUSIB] had no mission to relocate all the JJCs, instead it takes action only on the request of the land-owning agencies in the clusters prioritised by the department.”43 Further, a top official of the DUSIB explained that when a land-owning agency wants to rehabilitate a JJC on its land, it needs to specify why it requires the land, and must rehabilitate (relocate) residents upon eviction from the site.44 In other words, upon closer inspection, the DUSIB’s mandate is once again more reactive and limited than it appears. Prioritisation of a JJC for rehabilitation has very little to do with improving conditions and services in the settlement, but rather is based on the respective LOA’s need for the land.
 
The law also clearly states that eviction of residents of JJCs cannot be undertaken without rehabilitation. Experience indicates that this policy is often violated.45  

Since early 2010, the number of ‘prioritised JJCs’ has more than doubled, reaching 95 as of July 2013, the date of the latest official accounting. This number has reportedly remained the same since then.
 
JJCs prioritised between 2010 and 2013

Date “Prioritised JJCs” Source
19 December 2011 33 Agenda and Minutes of the Fifth Board Meeting of the DUSIB
23 February 2012 53 Agenda and Minutes of the Sixth Board Meeting of the DUSIB
27 May 2013 90 Presentation by DUSIB to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India46
3 July 2013 95 Top official of the DUSIB47

Once a JJC is selected for relocation, a survey is undertaken jointly by the DUSIB and the land-owning agency at the JJC. DUSIB is required to provide four weeks notice and disseminate information of such a survey using various modes of communication including notices pasted at “conspicuous places” in the JJC, loudspeakers, and beating of drums.48

Survey Process49 (paraphrased)

After four weeks of notice, the joint survey may be conducted by DUSIB so as to ensure that no genuine JJC dweller is left out of this survey. In exceptional circumstances, however, the above notice period can be relaxed by DUSIB.

The survey team has to ensure that the names of every JJC dweller and his or her family members who actually reside in the said jhuggi (whether they ‘own’ or rent) are incorporated in the survey list.

In addition to the above prescribed procedure, if any genuine resident is still left out, then the CEO, DUSIB may consider adding the same as per the individual merits of the case.

After the preparation of the survey report, JJC dwellers may be asked to submit documents in support of their claim for an EWS house within 21 days.50  

Until recently, residents had to submit documents in support of two conditions, both of which had to be satisfied by a JJC household to become eligible for relocation. The first was a cut-off date, the date prior to which a JJC household has to prove that it resided at the JJC to be found eligible for a flat. In February 2013, the GNCTD extended the cut-off date for relocation to 4 June 2009. Previously, it had been 31 January 2007, prior to which it was 1 April 2002.51 The second was a cut-off income. Earlier, the annual income of a JJC household had to be less than Rs. 60,000 to be eligible for low cost housing flats; this was later increased to Rs. 1 lakh52 per year. In February 2013, a GNCTD order did away completely with the income requirement. A DUSIB official explained that the cut-off was dropped because that there was no reliable source for the income certificates needed to prove income, that people would often pay bribes to get these certificates and lie about income.53  

The submission of requisite documents is undertaken at DUSIB’s office at Raja Garden in West Delhi. The applicant first goes to the ‘Helpdesk’ where three DUSIB staff members are seated, representing three different ‘channels’, each corresponding to a JJC.54 At the Helpdesk, the DUSIB staff members check if the application form has been duly completed by the applicant and the required documents have been attached.55

Along with the completed application form, three documents are to be submitted:

  1. Voter ID card: This is a mandatory documentation proof and must be submitted for three different years: (i) a date prior to 4 June 2009, (ii) the year of survey carried out by DUSIB at the JJC, and (iii) 1 January 2013. Although policy seems to set a single cut-off date, this requirement suggests there are three cut-off dates.
  2. One of eleven document proofs, dated before the 2009 cut-off date56
  3. Unique identification (UID) numbers of the applicant and his or her spouse

Further, in case of applicants belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Physically Handicapped categories, certificates for ‘Scheduled Caste’ and ‘Physically Handicapped’ and concerned affidavits have to be submitted.

Another rather generic affidavit is to be submitted along with the aforementioned documents. Through this affidavit, the applicant household makes a declaration of fifteen points.

Excerpts from Affidavit57

I shall use the allocated premises for residential purposes.

That, neither me nor my family member partially/fully own house in Delhi.

That, neither me nor my husband or dependent member have been allotted any land or house under planning of DDA/MCD/Slum & JJ/DUSIB or any Department in Delhi.

That, I shall abide by the rules or laws of allotment and, I will pay whatever rent will be fixed by DUSIB, on time.

That, in the case of I violate any rule or law which has been stated by DUSIB, DUSIB shall have right to cancel my allotment and DUSIB have right to take it away from me into its own control. In such a situation, I shall not demand any compensation and surrender my flat to DUSIB.

That, if in any situation it is found that I have hidden the truth and used incorrect documents or received allotment by incorrect method then the allotment of the flat shall be terminated and its possession, without me asking for any compensation, will be taken by the DUSIB.

Once these documents have been submitted and verified, the applicant is supposed to present him or herself to the Eligibility Determination Committee (EDC). As per the GNCTD order released on 25 February 2013, the EDC is constituted by the CEO of the DUSIB and comprises the following: officer(s) of DUSIB; the concerned electoral registration officers, assistant electoral registration officers, or any authorised officer(s) nominated by District Election Officer; and officer(s) of the LOA. In contrast, during a field visit to DUSIB’s Raja Garden office, we were told that the EDC consists of a deputy director and assistant director from the DUSIB and an assistant director and representative from the LOA.58 Irrespective of exactly who makes up the EDC, we can conclude that the process is complex and daunting for applicants.

The EDC verifies if the photocopies submitted by the applicant and spouse, both of whom have to be present in person, are ‘valid’ by comparing them against the originals that the applicant is to present to the EDC. However, “the EDC cannot finalize on eligibility [at this step], they are only to check if the photocopies match the originals.”59

There is a parallel channel for verification and authentication of UID, wherein biometric verification of the applicant and his or her spouse is performed by an agency called i-GATE, whose representative is located at a separate desk.60

Once verification of the documents is done with concerned government departments, the EDC determines who is eligible for EWS housing. The DUSIB sends a letter to the LOA informing them of the number of households found to be eligible and asking it to submit Rs. 1,50,000 per eligible household towards the relocation efforts.

The GNCTD order of February 2013 does not require the DUSIB to publicly disclose the list of households found eligible or ineligible, and it is unclear how, or if, the DUSIB informs households when they are ineligible for relocation. This is very problematic: this information is crucial to grievance redressal and to avoiding incorrect exclusions. After all, an applicant can only challenge exclusion if he or she is informed of such exclusion.

Once the households have been informed about their eligibility, those who have been found eligible are to report to the DUSIB’s Raja Garden office on days communicated to them by the DUSIB. There, lots are drawn to allot houses to eligible households. A representative of the eligible household, referred to as an ‘allottee’, picks up a chit that mentions the flat number that will be allotted to him or her. This house number is then mentioned on ‘provisional eligibility letters’ given to each allottee.

Among other things, this letter mentions the financial obligations of the beneficiary. Each beneficiary household has to submit a deposit as their contribution (often referred to as ‘Beneficiary Contribution’) for an EWS flat, which has to be submitted by a demand draft within sixty days of issue of the provisional eligibility letter.61

Beneficiary Contribution

Before February 2013

General Category Allottees – Rs. 71,491

SC Category Allottees – Rs. 2,083 [“The remaining contribution for each applicant i.e. Rs. 69,408 is paid by the SC Commission.”]

62

After February 2013

General Category Allottees – Rs. 68,000

SC Category Allottees – Rs. 1,000

ST Category Allottees – Same as General Category Allottees

In addition to this contribution, the allottee also has to pay “12% of the land premium as one-time payment towards ground rent within sixty days of the issue of the provisional offer letter”.

These are some interesting conditions mentioned in the provisional allotment letter63:

Structural modification The layout of the flat cannot be modified in any way.

Property rights While the house is held on lease-hold basis for the first 15 years, it is then converted to free-hold basis. However, the allottee is barred from selling, transferring, or assigning any part of the flat indefinitely.

Removal of jhuggi The provisional letter also states that the allotment of house is subject to “actual removal” of the jhuggi and the demolition slip handed out at that point in time. This essentially means that unless the original jhuggi is demolished, a JJC resident is not entitled to full relocation, which is in direct contradiction with the principle of providing alternative accommodation before eviction outlined in the GNCTD’s February 2013 order.

Maintenance The letter also states that a Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA), of which each allottee must be a member, will be formed to look after day-to-day cleaning, housekeeping and security.64

Constructing these flats for economically weaker sections (EWS) is a key element of the DUSIB’s relocation and rehabilitation mandate. It is such a central function that some DUSIB engineers have described the DUSIB as “the development authority for the people living in slums”. As one of the executive engineers said, “DDA constructs flats for common people, DUSIB constructs [them] for people in slums. We are just like DDA but for those living in slums.”65 Here, one DUSIB staffer understands a broad and active mandate for the Board, commensurate with the large and powerful DDA. This vision has not, however, been translated into action on the ground.

A DUSIB superintending engineer informed us that 25 percent of the target EWS housing mentioned in the 2021 Master Plan of Delhi is to be constructed by the DUSIB: “The [2021] Master Plan says that 25 lakh [2.5 million] housing units will have to be constructed by 2021; 40 percent of this housing has to be for economically weaker sections [i.e. 9.6 lakhs for EWS]; of the 9.6 lakhs, 25 percent has to be constructed by DUSIB.”66 To meet this goal, the DUSIB will have to construct 2,40,000 EWS houses by 2021. This means that beginning in 2010, the DUSIB should be building an average of 22,000 EWS flats each year.67 How well is DUSIB doing? According to the Delhi Government’s website68, for the financial year 2012-13 (1 April 2012 – 31 March 2013), DUSIB had completed the construction of 1,024 EWS flats at two locations in Dwarka.69 For the next financial year, DUSIB’s target was 17,180 EWS flats at four different locations. There is no public information about actual construction during this period.

Details of EWS Projects

DUSIB Projects FY 2012-13 No. of EWS Flats
Construction of four storied EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at 16-B, Site No.2, Dwarka 736
Construction of four storied EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at 16-B, Site No.3, Dwarka 288
 Total Built, FY 12-13: 1024
DUSIB Projects FY 2013-14
Construction of five storied EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at Savda Ghevra, Ph-III 7620
Construction of five storied (G+4) EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at A-3 Sultan Puri Delhi 1180
Construction of five storied (G+4) EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at Balaswa, Jahangir Puri Ph-II 7400
Construction of five storied (G+4) EWS Housing for Slum Dwellers at Block/sector 16B, Ph-II, Dwarka 980
 Total Planned, FY 13-14: 17180

Source: GNCTD, 2013: 8370


A top official of the DUSIB informed us that as of July 2013, 15,000 EWS flats had already been constructed and were ready for allotment, and another 40,000 flats are expected to be complete by the end of 2014.71 An August 2013 order of the GNCTD says that these 15,000 EWS flats had been constructed and were ready for occupancy.72 However, recent media reports indicate that many of these remain vacant.73

It is clear that the DUSIB has not been able to cope with a core element of its central mandate: to provide adequate EWS housing for relocated JJC residents. By the end of 2014, DUSIB should have 88,000 flats ready for occupancy. Even if construction of the reported 40,000 EWS flats is complete by the end of 2014, the DUSIB will still face a gap of 25,000 EWS flats.74 This is the direct result of DUSIB’s limited capacity and the government’s unrealistic deadlines.

Even flats that are completed remain empty due to severe confusion about eligibility criteria and the resulting low rates of JJC households found eligible for EWS housing. For the first eight priority JJCs, out of 1124 applications, 507 JJC households (45 percent) were found to be eligible. In some cases (JJCs in Karam Pura and Wazir Pur), eligibility rates were under 30 percent of the applicants, while in other cases (JJCs in Kidwai Nagar and Bharti Nagar), they hovered around 75 percent. Further, for the seven JJCs for which only eligibility lists had been prepared, out of a total of 1921 applications, 839 JJC households (just 44 percent) were found to be eligible. Incredibly, in a JJC in Nivedita Kunj, only 1 out of 64 applicants was declared eligible.

The reasons cited for ineligibility indicate that, in order to be ‘eligible’, the applicant should have (i) appeared on the voter lists of 2002, 2007, and 2010 from the same address, (ii) had a ration card from the address, presumably satisfying the 2007 cut-off date, and (iii) had an income certificate. Whatever the reasons, for the first fifteen JJCs for which eligibility and ineligibility lists were made available on DUSIB’s website,75 a policy that was meant to be inclusive and to ensure rehabilitation for those evicted from JJCs had excluded, on average, 50 percent of residents.

These decisions on eligibility for at least ten out of the fifteen JJCs were taken prior to changing the cut-off date to 4 June 2009, and removing the income cut-off and ration card requirement.

As of May 2013, 65 JJCs (of the 90 JJCs prioritised at the time) had been surveyed and eligibility had been determined in 34 clusters, where 1600 beneficiaries had been identified; 65 percent of these people had been found to be eligible as per the guidelines.76 Presumably, the eligibility criteria used considered the 2009 cut-off date, as per the February 2013 DUSIB order. However, in a board meeting in August 2013, the CEO of DUSIB announced that after scrutiny of the more than 8,000 applications that the DUSIB had received, about 3,000 households, or 45 percent, were found to be eligible.77 These decisions on eligibility were presumably also taken based on the 2009 cut-off date.

In other words, it appears that despite the change in the cut-off date from 2007 to 2009, the percentage of JJC households meeting the eligibility criteria remained the same. This has led to a situation in which a large number of residents are left homeless.

The DUSIB has recognised this problem. In August 2013, during its ninth board meeting, then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit “expressed dismay” about the low level of eligibility. She went on to suggest that people found ineligible for rehabilitation be given “transit places” on “payment of rent”.78 This was an innovative suggestion, given that Delhi’s agencies (such as the DUSIB and DDA) have traditionally not developed rental housing for the poor. But no action followed her recommendation.

As of July 2013, residents in only eight JJCs have been relocated, to flats in Bawana.79 Further, while nearly 2400 provisional allotment letters had been issued, relocation of these residents had not been undertaken because of resistance from MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly), prior to the 2013 Delhi Elections.80

Despite a flurry of activity such as repeatedly amending guidelines, changing crucial eligibility criteria, commissioning large-scale construction of EWS flats, and extensively surveying residents of JJCs, the DUSIB has succeeded in relocating disproportionately few JJC residents to upgraded housing.

Conclusion

The DUSIB appears to have a more progressive and clearer mandate with better-defined powers than the previous agency in charge of slum rehabilitation, relocation, and improvement in Delhi. But it remains disempowered in many ways. First, while the DUSIB has the mandate to extensively survey JJCs, it has underutilised this power. Although an attempt has been made to survey all 685 JJCs and the task reportedly completed, little public information is available about this survey. Second, it does not have the power to engage in these functions on land owned by agencies of the central government, which leaves more than 50 percent of JJC land out of its ambit. Third, more than three years after coming into being, the DUSIB remains understaffed and insufficiently funded,81 a status that is perhaps indicative of where it stands in the government’s priority list.

While this report examines the structure, functions, powers, and objectives outlined in the DUSIB’s parent legislation, it also unpacks the situation on the ground through insights from interviews with top and mid-level officials at the DUSIB, and examines a key function: relocation. The crucial fact that we uncovered is that while provisional allotment letters and offers for EWS flats have been issued to residents of various JJCs, very few have actually been relocated. As a result, nearly 15,000 EWS flats continue to remain unoccupied. Major sites where these EWS flats have been constructed are in the periphery of Delhi, in Dwarka, Savda Ghevra, and Bawana.

Following public criticism of the policy of relocating JJC residents to the peripheral areas of the city, the DUSIB is now also looking at in-situ rehabilitation82 of JJCs. A February 2013 letter from the DUSIB suggests that these projects will be undertaken at four sites: Sultan Puri, Hari Nagar Ashram, Kalyan Puri, and Sunder Nagari.83 It would be interesting to study these, especially since on-going initiatives by the Delhi Development Authority to undertake in-situ rehabilitation at locations such as Kathputli Colony and Kalkaji Extension suggest that it is struggling to implement these pilot projects. The Kathputli project in particular is marked by lack of community participation and poor transparency about the parameters for eligibility and about the property rights of the residents over the final dwelling unit.84

The DUSIB’s goal is to improve the lives of more than 46 percent of this city. Between overlapping land-owning agencies, jurisdictional issues, and poor staffing, the DUSIB faces huge challenges in making even the most incremental progress towards this goal.