Govt mulls Singapore model of development for cities
Sep 09, 2013
Source : The Times of India


PUNE: The Central government is mulling the Singapore model of development planning for Indian cities, where the plan is drafted for 30-50 years instead of the current 10-20 years.

Urban planners and experts have supported the initiative saying that the current development planning process for urban areas has become obsolete. Experts also said it could help Pune which is expanding fast and needs better planning.

The minister for Urban Development (UD), early this week, said the urban development planning process should be redefined as there is a huge infrastructure deficit in the country which would need 1.2 trillion USD. He was addressing the Indo-Dutch seminar on Urban and Regional Planning in Delhi.

The minister said urban planning should extend up to at least 30-50 years as compared to the current 10-20 years. Short-term plans should be an integral part of the long-term plan and should be reviewed frequently to adjust to the changing circumstances and requirements.

The government has stressed the importance of a long-term strategic urban planning for emergence of new cities, not only in the specific context of municipal limits, but encompassing the regional perspective, that is, suburbanization.

The government has insisted on the need for efficient use of land resources. According to the government’s own observations, unlike Singapore, and many other developed cities, India uses its land inefficiently as the Floor Space Index (FSI) permitted is below international standards.

“The development planning process has to be modified. Under the provisions of section 38 of Maharashtra Region & Town Planning (MR&TP) Act 1966, at least once in 20 years from the date on which a development plan has come in to operation, the planning authority can revise it. It is high time that growing cities like Pune have two plans __ long and short-term__ for integrated development that matches with the fast growth of the city,” said urban planner Ramchandra Gohad.

In the state, the MR&TP act provides a three-tier planning process; a regional plan, a development plan and a town planning scheme. In the development plan, the local civic administration which is implementing authority, earmarks available land in the city for public amenities like gardens, hospitals, schools, roads and footpaths based on the population of an area.

The development plan lays out policies and proposals for development and use of land. It is meant to guide decisions on whether development permission should be granted under the development control rules. The decisions must be consistent and match the development plan adopted by the authority after public consultation.

However, according to urban planners a DP has no meaning if it takes long for implementation. DPs are often passed 15-20 years after the deadline and a city’s character may completely change by the time it is finally approved.

In Pune, the civic administration drafted the new development plan spanning 2007-2027 for the old city which is still in the suggestions and objections stage. This is the first development plan in 25 years after 1987 and is applicable to the old city area comprising 17 peths and surrounding areas spread over 147.85 square km.

Ho Peifen, planner in the Singapore’s Professional Development Group (URA), said any growing city must have a two-level planning. “A concept plan envisioning the city’s growth for the next 50 years is the blue print of a comprehensive development plan. A master plan is useful to implement the step -by-step development envisioned by broad plan. These plans work in tandem,” he said.

Town planning officials agree that the development planning process has become defunct and agree that the central government’s thinking is in right direction. “We need a two-level planning for cities. In 2011, the state government has amended the MR&TP Act, according to which the plans have to be finalized within four-and-a-half years of being taken up. But the character of the city changes every couple of years. There is need for macro and micro development plan considering the migration and rapid industrialization in urban areas,” said a senior state town planning official.

The two-level planning, he said, will help expedite the actual implementation of projects and the civic body could amend the plan according to changing needs.

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