ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Balkanisation of Urban Planning

The Maharashtra government does not seem to be serious about urban planning. The development plan is a meaningless exercise in accordance with a law that is 50 years out of date. The current situation is a balkanisation of urban planning with a host of different agencies looking at land use and transportation planning along with policy interventions by departments of the state and central governments. There is an urgent need for a central coordinator of urban plans even if the detailed work is done by different agencies.

The basic urban planning instrument in Maharashtra continues to be the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (MR&TP Act). Other states have similar Acts that mandate a development plan (DP) for the specified urban area be prepared every 20 years, to remain valid for that entire future period. Some states permit interim revisions, but in general the process of preparation, including an eyewash of public consultation, is so cumbersome that interim revisions are hardly ever attempted.

The Act calls for preparation of an existing land-use plan (ELU). Thereafter, the process envisaged is that the planner will make forecasts of what the situation will be like 20 years from now. This includes forecasts of population growth, migration, job growth, kinds of jobs, incomes and income distribution, travel demand and modes of transport. Based on this anticipation of what the future holds, the planner then draws up a landuse plan showing residential, commercial and industrial areas distributed through the area, as well as land for open spaces, schools, hospitals and other amenities. The DP is thus essentially a land-use plan designed to fit a particular imagined future. It has its companion development control rules (DCR), which among other things determine how much floor space can be built where. It is presumed that this kind of land use regulatory control is all that is needed to make the anticipated future happen.

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