Posted in Published Article, Urban Governance

Development Plan remains only on Paper

Published in Times of India, Pune in 2018, Lost and found. Reposted here for you

We often read in papers about the DP or Development Plan of a city but barely 2% of us know what a DP is. The Development Plan of a city is its vision. It sets the agenda of what the city wants to do with itself in the next two to three decades. It takes into account the various public requirements of the city and reserves lands, whether public or private, for those purposes. The plan also proposes conservation and preservation of areas that have natural, historical or architectural importance.

There are two instruments of a Development Plan – Zoning, and Reservation.

ZONING is the means whereby compatible land uses are grouped together, and incompatible uses segregated – such as manufacturing industry and residential areas. RESERVATIONS for public purposes means reserving space for schools, colleges and educational institutions, medical and public health facilities, markets, social welfare and cultural institutions, theatres and places of public entertainment, religious buildings, government buildings, open spaces and playgrounds, natural reserves and sanctuaries, dairies, sites for public utilities such as water supply and sewerage, fire stations, other community sites, service industries and industrial estates. 

The Development Plan also makes provisions for the city’s transportation and communication system such as roads, railways, airways and waterways, and parking facilities.

In order to successfully implement the Development Plan, the municipal body needs to be empowered and this is done through Development Control Rules (DCR). These rules deal with the manner in which building permission can be obtained, the general building requirements, and aspects of structural safety and services. Access, layouts, open spaces, area and height limitations, lifts, fire protection, exits and parking requirements are all stipulated in the DCR. 

Similarly structural design, quality of material and workmanship, and inspections during construction are also spelt out. The control of floor space use, tenement densities, and the Transfer of Development Rights are some of the most crucial issues dealt with by the rules. These rules are also framed by the planning authority and are sanctioned with suitable changes by the State Government.

Although Development Planning is the path to city development all across the world, the sad fact is that in most Indian States, not even 10% of a DP gets actually implemented. This is because while the planning takes place at the State level, the implementation is left to the municipal body, which has limited resources to acquire land to implement various schemes. Local Governments are also preoccupied with meeting the daily needs of citizens and have neither the expertise nor the personnel for long term planning.

As a result, people go in for new construction in areas where the Development Plan has promised infrastructure which may never materialize, and the beleaguered municipal body then has to ‘retrofit’ the area with these facilities at ten times the original cost. Perhaps greater involvement and participation of the affected citizens in the planning process, from the beginning, may be the best solution to the growing problems of underserviced urban sprawl in Indian cities.


Indian Urban Planning in Limbo


I am a trainer of Government Officials and Elected Representatives, specializing in the urban and municipal sector. I have also written extensively on Urban Governance, Poverty, Development, Social Accountability and Municipal Management in the Indian context, and wish to share these writings with you through this blog.

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