(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Administration of Urban Development M.N. Buch

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Administration of Urban Development M.N. Buch

Understanding the Basic Town Planning Philosophy in India

The Master Plan for Delhi, which was, together with the effort of CMPO, the pioneering exercise in post-independence urban planning, gives the mindset of the Indian urban administrator and city planner. Given below are some quotations, some extracts, from the Delhi Master Plan, which would help us in understanding the basic town planning philosophy which prevails in India:

To sum up the present situation, haphazard and sub-standard development in the metropolitan area is going on at a rapid rate .... Industry is dotted over the crowded walled city where it is a source of nuisance .... Planned growth in the past has been very much hampered by lack of developed land and speculation in land .... Recognising this and also as a matter of major policy, the Government of India has notified for acquisition of about 35,000 acres of land.... One of the major principles is that in order to secure balanced development and minimise frictions, decentralisation of places of employment and the right relationship with residential areas is necessary .... Self-contained divisions, and decentralisation of employment centres are necessary .... A system of linked open spaces and district parks has been worked out in the entire urban area of Delhi .... It is essential to provide an inviolable green belt of agricultural land around the urbanisable land in 1981.. .. Harmonious growth and orderly functioning are the first steps in evolving an attractive city.

Harmony, beauty, functional division of land into different uses are all the principal considerations which even today govern town planning in India. In addition is an in-built arrogance as evidenced by the statement below, that a planner can dictate how the city will grow, instead of providing for the needs of a city whose growth is pre-determined by the structure of society itself. To quote from the Master Plan of Delhi, “The Plan has allocated land for industries, living, play and other major types of urban land uses in the most appropriate location for each use and inter-related to each other so as to produce orderliness and smooth functioning”.


Urban planning in India has been totally overshadowed by its spatial content, that is, providing for the use and development of land in pre-determined manner. The spatial is only a servant of a much larger whole, in which the principal goals is realisation of certain social values, whose social and economic components are at least as important as the spatial. For this purpose, the plan for any city has to look upon land as that resource, which can be used to improve the efficiency of all aspects of city life, ranging from the economic to the daily trivia of the individual household. The superficial neatness of the look of the city does not amount to planning, because behind that neatness may lie the chaos of the entire unplanned, haphazard, informal sector, which constitutes the major part of our cities.

Isolation from National Economic Planning Process

As the National Commission on Urbanisation (NCU) has pointed out in its report. urban planning is totally isolated from the national economic planning process. The drawback of master plans can best be seen from what the NCU has to say on the subject:

Another set of major schemes was the master plans for a large number of cities. These, however, proved largely infructuous due to lack of contact during the preparation of these physical plans with investment planning at the city, state and national levels.

To quote it again:

Experience has shown that our planning system, where in the preparation of master plans is the principal activity of urban development, is a static concept, whereas in today’ s context urban planning in India must be seen as a dynamic, adaptive. interactive and continuous process of anticipating, planning and managing social and economic change brought about by the economic development of the country. Master plans, with their rigid landuse, zoning and development controls, have proved extermenly poor instruments for regulating the process of urban growth. The core problems of urban planning are not only spatial but functional as well.... If urban planning is to make a positive contribution to our national development, it cannot continue in its present sterile form. It must shift from its present emphasis of landuse planning to guiding the very complex, interrelated processes of socio-economic change.

Over-looking Commuting Time and Distance Factors

We may neatly compartmentalise land into various pre-determined uses. What happens, however, is that residential premises are used by the owners for economic activities, leading to household industries and small shops, coming up in converted ‘houses. Strict zoning, by segregating employment and residential functions, can only lead to one of the two things. Either the plan is violated or people are forced to move daily from residential areas to worksite, thus, straining their finances and overstretching the transport system. Generally speaking, it is a combination of both which happens. India cannot afford towns which are based on commuting time and distance, because it is the individual transport, shanks pony, bicycle or motorised two-wheeler, which predominates in most cities. Mass public transport is just too expensive and consumes too much land space.

Poor Plan Implementation

Town planners bemoan the fact that plan implementation is slack in India, resulting in urban chaos, city decay and growth of slums. The reason advanced for this is that the town planner is very low in the official hierarchy and that it is the administrator who has the final say. Make the town planner the city manager and everything will be hunky-dory. There is good ground for giving the town planner his due place in society and in government and, in fact, the NCU has recommended that the head of the Town and Country Planning Department at the Centre and in the states must be equated to a high ranking IAS Officer. What would this achieve? For example, Kamla Market in the Ajmeri Gate area was planned to be shifted to Minto Road and the site occupied by it converted into a recreational area. Kamla Market is the largest complex for the manufacture of room-coolers in the whole of Delhi. I would like to see the administrator or town planner who, even with a large police force at his disposal, could shift Kamla Market. Similarly, the Delhi Plan provides for shifting of all non-conforming activities from the old city of Delhi to locations outside. There is a total failure on this account, the Emergency notwithstanding, because those who work in the workshops of the old city also live in or near the premises and certainly cannot afford to commute to distant places earmarked as industrial estates.

This is Sample Material of Our Study Kit for Public Administration

Online Crash Course for Public Administration Mains Examination

<< Go Back to Main Page