• Bengaluru : The City needs a sustainable and realistic plan

    Citizens expecting solutions to traffic woes, mounting garbage and missing municipal services may be disappointed as the plan does not address these sectors directly .

    Following the diktats of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act 1961, it addresses land use, road networks, reservations, and building regulations. These limited aspects, however, have a significant impact on the city’s future.Key opportunities include: 1) Reviving the city centre to avoid the `donut’ effect: Twenty nine wards are witnessing declining population growth rates.

    These areas within the inner ring road of the city have the highest levels of municipal services and public transport access. Relaxing rigid zoning, introducing mixed uses, increasing densities and FAR (built up area) will encourage redevelopment and increase the affordability and supply of building stock.Attempts to lower FAR artificially, below than what is already consumed, could be counterproductive. The unsustainable `donut’ effect -where the city centre empties out and un-serviced peripheries become the destinations for housing and jobs -must be avoided.

    2) Uniting urban form with mass transportation: With billions being spent on the metro rail network, the shape and pattern of urban development must complement it. The highest mix of uses, FAR, dwelling unit densities, parking maximums and quality public spaces need to be encouraged to form `transit-oriented development’.This will reduce time and distance of travel, encourage people to walk, bicycle and use public transport and reduce reliance on personal vehicles.

    3) Involving local stakeholders through local area planning: Implementing the generalised city master plan locally will be futile without interactive participation. The Master Plan and the KTCP Act 1961 must enable Local Area Plans (LAPs) at the ward level to bring in local knowledge, dynamism, values and priorities. LAPs serve as the common platform to bring together planning agencies, service provision agencies and people to implement proposals on the ground.

    4) Adopting alternatives to compulsory land acquisition: Critical projects such as the Peripheral Ring Road have been languishing due to resistance from land owners and prohibitive costs. Alternatives with better success are being used in other states, such as land readjustment and land pooling.These mechanisms only readjust enough land to provide roads and amenities while the remaining is returned to the owner. The plots reduce in size but increase dramatically in cost, reducing dissent.Master plans unfortunately , are notorious for their violations than their implementation. Routine setback encroachment, disproportionate FAR consumption, non-permissible uses, and buildings on reservations occur. Fixes are later attempted through self-assessment fees for violations or change of use, de-notification, begging the question whether such controls-based planning is effective at all.

    While debates and complexities abound on whether to adopt the more effective international planning frameworks or leave it to the Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee, the BDA is getting ready to release its draft plan. Let’s hope a sustainable and realistic plan awaits us. Josh LeRibeus Jersey

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