Emergency Colonies

Between 1962 and 1977 the resettlement colony found in Delhi, in its current form, took shape as a government response to the incremental walled city and burgeoning squatter settlements.[1] During this period about 240,000 households were resettled in 44 resettlement colonies. Of these, 27 colonies were settled during the period of Emergency (1975-77) which saw the most aggressive of schemes on the back of slum clearance and family planning (sterilization) – relocating 120,000 households (approximately 700,000 people) from the heart of the city to the periphery. The result was on one had the placing of these colonies on cheaper low-lying waste land, often along drains and ditches and on the other hand a lowering of the standard for housing plot size from 80 sq m to 25 sq m.[2] Most of these colonies, and all during the Emergency period, were quick evacuation and demolition schemes were the dwellers were forcibly evicted with no warning and transported out to barren site and services sites. With little to no community participation ‘development’ was left in the hands of the residents and so a policy in response to the incremental city planned new incremental ones: as described by Ritu Priya in an article for Economic and Political Weekly in 1993, “much of the effort for improving housing, etc, is taken by them [resettlement colony dwellers] on their own initiative”.

Map of Colonies established between 1962-77 showing extent of urbanized zones prior to 1950 (dark grey) and prior to 1970 (light grey).

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Colonies established between 1962-77 on Google Maps (markings by author):


[1] The first policy which aimed at EWS living in squatter settlements was the Jhuggi Jhopri Removal Scheme (JJRS) in the 1960s where evicted slum dwellers were allocated plots on leasehold basis in exchange for their demolished jhuggis.

[2] According to the current Building Bye-Laws (c.2010) the minimum plot size with ground coverage not exceeding 75 percent, shall not be less than 40m2 in small and medium town and not less that 30m2 in metropolitan cities. Plot sizes below 30m2 but not less than 15m2 may be permitted in case of cluster planning, however, in such cases the ground coverage and FSI shall be 100 percent and 2 percent respectively. In mega-cities it [plot sizes] may be further reduced to 15m2. In such cases where plot size is below 25m2 only cluster planning or group housing may be adopted.  However, in case single room tenements are required to be provided where future additions are not possible, the carpet area of multipurpose single room should be at least 12.5m2. In case of slum resettlement on the same site, minimum area may be reduced to 12.5m2 with potential for adding another 12.5m2 on first floor with an internal staircase.

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About juliakingat

British / Venezuelan, Architect & Urban Researcher; PhD Candidate

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