President of India
Home » Speeches


Rashtrapati Bhavan, 13th December 2007

I am pleased to release the Special Cover to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

We are gathered here today to commemorate the 50 years of service provided by DDA to the city of Delhi. Like all journeys, there would have been times of difficulties and also of great successes. DDA has contributed to the development of Delhi in the last 50 years in terms of providing housing for its people; establishing commercial centres, office buildings and industrial estates for its economic growth; developing institutional areas for cultural activities; creating play areas and sports centres as recreational facilities, and keeping parks and forests as essential green zones of the city. I wish DDA success in its future activities.

Delhi, our capital city, occupies a place of pride in the heart of every Indian. It is an ancient city and a living archive of our history, which requires that we preserve its traditions, culture, monuments and heritage sites. It is also a growing city that demands the modernizing of its infrastructure and the provision of basic facilities to all. Moreover, it is important that the city is kept clean. Healthy and clean cities contribute to a healthy nation. What are healthy cities and how can we make cities healthy? For this, we should look at urban governance issues, civic amenities and civic duties.

The first important step in urban governance is urban planning, which should look at developing cities and their infrastructure with at least a 25 year timeframe. Rapid urbanization is taking place and city populations are growing. This requires better urban planning that is capable of thinking today about the requirements of tomorrow and making appropriate plans. Another inadequacy in urban planning is that there is little co-ordination. Urban works, for example like road and drainage construction, are taken in isolation as a matter of rule rather than as an exception, probably because they are the responsibility of different organizations in the urban governance framework. The situation can be improved by taking up projects through one nodal agency aimed at integrating construction of various infrastructure elements like roads, pedestrian paths, cross-drainage works, public water points and community sanitation, in a coordinated manner by adopting an integrated development framework for an area. I am aware that DDA does have the capacity to do this and I would strongly advocate this approach.

Natural disasters can cause huge damages in cities. Experience has demonstrated that technical intervention in planning, designing and construction of urban infrastructure can reduce vulnerability of societies to natural hazards. It should be the endeavour of city planners of Delhi to build earthquake resistant buildings as I am told that Delhi lies in an active seismic zone.

Winter is here in Delhi and so is the smog, with pollution levels being very high. How to address the problem of pollution should constitute a part of the planning of a city. A number of steps have been taken but much more needs to be done. City authorities should encourage the construction of energy efficient buildings and eco-friendly practices. Plantations of trees and preserving green zones are also important in this context. Cleaner fuel in vehicles and industries should be used, while promoting energy and water conservation measures.

Cities that are secure and safe are a product of good governance. The rise in population and the stressful life styles are reducing tolerance levels. Whether it is the road rage, which has become a common occurrence or vigilante groups who are seeking to take the law into their own hands or the proliferation of disputes over relatively minor issues like parking places are symptoms of this growing intolerance. Effective policing systems and citizens' groups play a role in crime prevention. I would in particular urge that there be special focus on addressing crime against women.

In a democracy, in the ultimate analysis, government and its institutions are accountable to the people. The more transparent the processes of government, the less are the chances of corruption. It ought to be our endeavour to ensure fully transparent processes in all our administration so as to effectively curb the menace of corruption.

Every citizen should have access to basic services and livable habitats. Civic amenities such as water, electricity, sanitation and transport, should be efficiently managed. It also requires healthcare systems that address issues of nutrition, while providing medical care. Education is particularly important in making better informed citizens. There should be emphasis on good education for all, particularly the girl child, slum dwellers and children of workers' engaged in building construction.

Healthy cities and urbanization that is sustainable should be more inclusive and equitable. One of the greatest anomalies of growing cities is the co-existence side by side of massive modern structures and sprawling urban slums. In many cases the labour force brought in to aid construction, set up their temporary quarters right next to the construction site. Once the building is completed, no provision is made for their housing, resulting in this situation of contrasts. We can only call ourselves a civilized society if we look after the interests of each of our citizens especially the weakest and the poorest. It is our duty to ensure minimum standards of habitation, health and education for all such disadvantaged groups. Cities must work towards poverty eradication. For the weaker and disadvantaged sections of society, special programmes for their welfare must be implemented in a time bound manner. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission seeks to cater to the needs of the poor and improve the quality of their lives with the involvement of all stakeholders. Proper implementation of this scheme along with regular monitoring should be done.

On their part, citizens should be law abiding, conscious of their role and willing to contribute to all aspects of the growth of the city. The feeling that, it is for the Government alone to take action is not correct. Each person can contribute, NGOs can contribute, civil societies can contribute and industry can contribute in making a positive difference to the city. From waste management, to energy and water conservation, to planting trees - all these can be successful only with citizens' participation. Individuals should have a sense of civic duty. If each individual took a vow not to litter the streets, I am convinced that a city would begin to look clean. It is said that when our people go abroad they observe civic sense, but when they come back they forget it. There are a large number civic-minded people living in our cities. They can come forward to volunteer their time and expertise for the betterment of their cities. In localities where there are active citizen groups, the area is invariably better organized and better facilities are available. Communities have a duty to participate in making their city livable, green and beautiful. NGOs can help in creating awareness and bringing about a people's movement for better cities. All stakeholders have to join hands in building cities that are well managed and are humane. Public - Private partnerships like the Bhagidari Scheme of the Delhi Government with the concept of - "My Delhi - I Care" is an example of everyone working together for a better city.

Delhi is now getting ready to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It was earlier the venue for the Asian Games in 1951 as well as in 1982, which were held successfully. With its previous experience, I am confident that during the Commonwealth Games, Delhi will once again make India proud and I look forward to the time when Delhi will host the Olympics.

In conclusion, I would like to remember the vision of our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru - a champion of modernization, economic development and scientific progress. While setting up the DDA to make the Master Plan for the Capital of India, Panditji had envisaged a modern capital city that embodied the qualities which he most valued: democracy, secularism, economic development and scientific and technological prowess. That Vision must continue to guide DDA in its work.

Thank you.


Disclaimer: Website designed by National Informatics Centre. Contents Provided By President’s Secretariat.