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Zoning Laws in India

Zoning Laws in India

By Simran Sabharwal

Have you ever visited Chandigarh - The City Beautiful? It is indeed the most well-planned city in North India. The roads are broad, the traffic is properly maintained, lush green trees on the sides. Even the heights of the houses are similar. Wondering who administers all this and are there any laws for this?

Zoning Laws are the proper term given to laws like this. Every city has its own zoning law. This type of law can be termed as the best law to bring uniformity to the city. Zoning is basically a planning control tool. The law has various guidelines which need to be followed by every citizen and whosoever is planning to build a house, a mall or any other building. It helps to determine the location, size and even if the pets are allowed. Zoning laws can curb “Everything is Everywhere” problem in India.

Most of the citizens are not aware of the zoning laws in their cities. That can be considered as a major reason for the haphazard cities of India. Moreover, the zoning laws of India are still unclear and has various lacunas.

Is Zoning necessary?

·      In the 21st century, zoning can be considered as an effective measure to preserve our nature and help to reduce the massive traffic jams. We all know the condition of our capital city. It sometimes takes around 2 hours to travel just 10 km. That is all because of lack of proper planning and improper implementation of Zoning laws.

·      The purpose of zoning is to allow the authorities to control the development of land in specific areas to benefit the society at large. It also helps to protect the value of the property. It helps the people living there to live a peaceful life by not allowing factory owners to build a factory in a residential area. It helps in proper urban planning.

·      So, by now one can understand that zoning is very important in modern times.


·      Zoning can be traced back to Vedic era days when zoning was done and implemented too. India currently has various land laws. To name a few, India has Transfer Property Act, The Registration Act, The Environment Protection Act, 1986 and The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition.

·      It also has the Special Economic Zones Act of 2005. And then there are several local and municipal laws. But every other city in the world has various laws like this.

·      Still, the zoning laws are properly implemented. It is not even strange to find that there is no Indian city in the list of UNESCO’s 15 Most Beautifully Designed Cities of the World. [1]

Unheard Opinions of the Public

·      Illegally built colonies violate the zoning laws. Street vendors are completely averse to zoning laws as they occupy a major portion of land to sell their goods, illegally. The street vendors question the Zoning Laws.

o   In National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009[2] report it was mentioned that street vendors are important for urban trade and in the national income of the nation.

§  So, each street vendor had to get himself registered with the Municipal Commissioner.

§  As the municipal corporation provides various basic amenities, the street vendors are charged a registration fee and a monthly maintenance charge.

o   But we all are aware of the famous Sarojini Nagar. The shopkeepers use a major portion of the road and when the policeman comes to check they take all their stuff, kept on the road, inside. There are many YouTube videos to practically explain this claim.

o   Isn’t this show the inefficiency in the working of the laws? Laws are there, we can see it, but not experience its functioning.

·      To bridge the gap between the Yamuna river and Delhi, the government broke the zoning laws and brought the two close to each other.[3] Yamuna river provides livelihood to farmers of Delhi. The Delhi government kept livelihood over laws. Is this ethical? Can the laws be broken for the satisfaction of other needs?

·      There are people of Bangalore who are averse to new zoning. They have slogans like ‘Hosa Zoning Beda’ which means No New Zoning. They even sent postcards to the Chief Minister. The laws should be made keeping every sector in mind. Also, the government is for the people so the government should have a logical interpretation for every law they make.


Zoning Laws in Other Countries

Every country has its own zoning laws. Honestly, the zoning laws in other countries are much more developed and effective than that of India’s.

·      The US charges zoning tax which is comparatively lower than India. India charges a higher zoning tax.

o   The first zoning case in the U.S. was Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.[4]it mentioned that the laws do not burden the property owner and help in the benefit of the location which further helps to increase the property rates.

o   However, in a contrary case Nectow v. City of Cambridge[5]it was held that sometimes the laws are too cumbersome and intrigue the owner. But the case laws mentioned are about 90 years before and the times have changed.

o   Now, the process is simpler and compulsory for citizens of the States.

o   The problem which the US faces is because of online websites like Airbnb. With Airbnb, people rent their property even for a short time.

o   Short term rentals are against the local zoning laws of U.S. India can take the best features of their laws and also be ready to find a solution for their problems.

·      In Australia, the locations have special zoning codes and each place functions according to its codes.

o   The codes were allotted as research showed that Australia’s population will almost double in size in the next 25 years.

o   To counter this problem, the government came with laws and the cities of Australia are functioning in a really good manner to prevent as much land as possible from getting wasted.

·      India needs to learn a lot from other countries as they have planned their cities really well. Qatar has recently built a Souq Waqif[6], a beautiful place where traders sell their products.

·      The Souq is built near a beach so that people can walk through Souq and reach the beach. The Souq has added to the beauty of the city.

·       Zoning if done properly can attract foreign tourists immensely.

Zoning laws in India

·      Zoning is done to promote local development and for urban planning. A committee was formed named Urban Land Policy in 1965.

·      Zoning laws in India deal with the building’s construction or for the use of land. The Supreme Court delivered in Delhi Pradesh Citizen Council Vs Union of India, 2006 [7] in which they led the directions of activities which cannot be held in a residential area. Some of which are –

v A banquet hall cannot be made in any residential area.

v Any activity that involves the use of hazardous material cannot be carried out in a residential area.

v No liquor shops.

v No Repair shops (which are so frequently seen in any residential area)

·      Some of the rules are easily disregarded. The activities which are allowed in residential areas are hostels, clubs, hospitals, cemetery, vehicle parking. The government also laid down the restriction that the mentioned activities should abide by the noise limit.

·      In a famous case, R.K. Mittal & Ors. Vs State of UP & Ors.[8] (which has been referred to in so many other judgements) stated that the planning authority has no power to permit a change in the usage of land and if a change occurs in the land use it must comply with the Outside Development Plan.

·      The changes must conform to the Zoning Regulations. This case was related to a residential area. A similar case was, Dr G.N. Khajuria Vs Delhi Development Authority & Ors.[9], it stated that if a plan was passed to build a public park then only a public park can be built and not a nursery school.

·      Also, these cases say that the judiciary has always been strict with the ‘making of laws’ but is it strict with the ‘implementation of laws’?

Therefore, there are various laws for every city of India. But the common in it is that the urban development should be seen and there should be uniformity.

To know the zoning law of your city, you can go through the table below -




Chandigarh Development Authority


Mumbai Development Authority


Delhi Development Authority


Kolkata Development Authority


Jaipur Development Authority


Hyderabad Development Authority


Bhopal Development Authority


So, through these links, you can go and see what the zoning laws in your city say.

However, the zoning laws need to be implemented in a stringent manner so that it increases the beauty of the locality and leads to uniformity.

How to get yourself registered

·      It is necessary to take permission before carrying out any activity on a commercial property.

·      You need to take permission from the local municipal authority, town planning authority and the landlord.

·      You need to get a permit from the local municipal authority by explaining to them what kind of activity you will carry out on their land.

·      Then you need to take the permission from town planning authority as they differentiate the area and allow you to carry out the activity in the commercial area.

·      You need to take permission from the landlord if you live in a residential area. For any type of construction, you need to get the no-objection statement.

What if you want to get your zoning changed?

·      You can get your zoning changed. The process does not involve a lot of hassles. Recently, Goa allowed getting the zoning of the land changed easily[10].

·      Previously, there have been many case laws which have allowed to get a change in zoning. You can also get an agricultural land changed to residential land after the proper process is completed otherwise you cannot build a house on agricultural land.

·      For getting your zoning changed, you need to request a special permit which involves filling a petition and requesting for a change.

·       Also, you can hire a special well-qualified lawyer to seek advice and help you in the case matter.

Amendments required in Zoning Laws

·      The laws made are perfectly fine for the nation. However, the need of the hour is to implement the laws religiously. Corruption is a rampant problem in the nation.

·      The map of the location needs to be properly passed by the development authority and a keen eye should be kept on the developers whether they are abiding by the rules.

·      Also, large scale projects affect every person living nearby, be it the transportation or the impure air. Proper laws should be framed for this too.


·      The need for cheap housing has brought the zoning laws. Now it is up to the common man of India to help the judiciary to implement the laws and not become a hindrance for a cleaner and greener nation.

·      Zoning is purely a city matter and only a tough development authority can help the city to be cleaned and make it properly planned.

·      So, zoning is one of the many ways in which the government controls the development of the city.




[4] 1926 SCC OnLine US SC 189

[5] 1928 SCC OnLine US SC 102


[7] 131 (2006) DLT 189 SC

[8] (2012) 2 SCC 232-A

[9] (1995) 5 SCC 762


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