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Delhi's Master Plan 2041 to focus on greater citizen engagement and quality public transport

Master Plan for Delhi 2041 is expected to take care of the Capital's needs for the next 20 years starting 2021.

Vandana Ramnani @vandanaramnani1

Delhi's Master Plan 2041 is expected to focus on walkability, street infrastructure, sustainability, quality public transport, redevelopment and is expected to be integrated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data on air pollution, transportation and even address the city's biggest concern on how to regulate unauthorised colonies.

Most important, it is expected to open up consultations with the chief stakeholders – the citizens right from the planning stage rather than simply inviting their comments once the plan is done and put up on the website, say planners.

Master Plan for Delhi 2041 is expected to take care of the Capital's needs for the next 20 years, starting 2021. While the MPD-2021 addressed issues related to environment, transportation and even touched upon the issue of redevelopment, planners said it has largely remained on paper due to lack of clarity.

The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) — an autonomous research and advisory body under the Union housing and urban affairs ministry —organised an international conference on Re-inventing Delhi where planners from across the world shared their  experiences and views on planning.

Focus on informal settlements

Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that the highest priority should be given to the population that lives within the informal settlements and that they are given all the facilities the rest of the citizens receive in the city.

"People in unauthorised colonies are looked upon as encroachers. But as we plan for the future development, they can’t be ignored. The MPD-2041 will address the issue of unauthorised colonies and how we can redevelop them to provide basic amenities such as schools, hospital, etc. We have started a discussion on the matter," said Jagan Shah, director, National Institute of Urban Affairs.

Pedro B Ortiz, senior fellow, Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University, said informal or unregulated settlements are a problem the world over and cities have to provide land for the influx of people coming in search of jobs.

"People are going to come to the cities and you can't prevent it. If you don’t provide land to them, they are going to be uncontrolled in informal settlements. It is the government's duty to provide that land. Earlier cities were like boiled eggs, expansion has turned them into scrambled eggs now," he said.

To address the problem of unregulated growth in a city, it is important to look at areas that are 40 km to 100 km away from Delhi and connect them. Increasing population must be spread to other towns. There is need to develop multi-modal stations in neighbouring towns along with residential developments in these areas. If cities can ensure well-developed transportation network in neighbouring towns, the population load on the main city is bound to decrease, says Pedro B Ortiz, senior fellow at Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University.

Eric Huybrechts, in charge of the International and European Affairs Urban and Environment Planning Agency of Greater Paris Region, said that it is important for planners to account for informal settlements.

"Main concern of planners today is how to deal with that.  Planned areas attract better investments but may not be affordable for people. Planners have to change that mindset – there is a need to plan cities after including the informal areas. These colonies are an integral part of Delhi and we can’t ignore them. It has been decided to make detailed provisions to provide essential infrastructure in these colonies and prepare a plan for redevelopment," said DDA vice chairman Tarun Kapoor said.

Improved walkability

Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal said that brownfield development is the way forward and amalgamation of plots, and transit-oriented development should be considered while redeveloping in-built environment.

“There should be mixed-use urbanscapes, improved walkability, amalgamation of plots for densification, improvement in street infrastructure, and calibration of floor area ratio in accordance with availability of resources,” he said.

The LG also said the master plan should incentivise growth of green spaces and come up with ways to combat air pollution. Better air quality, he pointed out, can be achieved by shift to public transport, transit-oriented development, e-vehicles etc. The plan should also include a strategy to improve the condition of the Yamuna, the ridge, forests and wetlands.

Greater citizen engagement

DDA VC said that while public participation was part of the previous master plans, too, DDA would now reach out to the people of Delhi  through the social media, instead of simply inviting suggestions and objections.

“Efforts will also be made for data gathering through GIS-based maps. At present, you can’t access maps in Delhi or for that matter owners cannot locate their plots but better technologies, such as drone for monitoring, are available now,” Kapoor said.

The idea is to get a system in place and while the plan is being implemented, monitoring should get better and data and support should be made available, he added.

“For greater public engagement in the entire process of planning, we have put together an app and even have a hashtag in place so that people can write to us. We need to find solutions together – until now the sequence was that we would prepare the plan and then we put it on a website and ask the public what they think about it without bothering to explain to them what is the plan, what are the implications for planning for transport or economic development,” explained Shah.

It is now going to be a two-way process, he added.

Urban development has to be inclusive. Citizen engagement should be taken seriously. If you do not have political backing it may become very difficult to make a plan work, says Forbes Davisdon, senior faculty, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies.

Transit development policy to be  key

Brownfield redevelopment of old areas, transportation, environment management is expected to form an integral part of Delhi’s MPD 2041.

“The transfer development rights policy is also likely to be an integral part of MPD 2041. Policies relating to financing of properties, the key element required for redevelopment is refinancing - how do people get credit so that they can redevelop – all these issues may also find a mention in the new Master Plan,” say planners.

Integrated transportation plan

Om Prakash Agarwal, CEO, World Resources Institute India, was of the view that mass transit transport systems be it BRT, Metro, rapid rail – all should be part of the master plan. It should not be limited to only road plans.

He also commented that Metro was being used as a suburban transit mode rather than an intra city travel option. Therefore, Metro routes should also be included in the Master Plans as it can unlock land for urbanisation.

Alex Williams, director of city planning, Transportation of London (TIL) said that in London there was one authority responsible for the city and its transportation needs. “This ensures timeliness and efficiency.”

He also mentioned that the TIL does incur losses in case of its bus network as 40 percent of passengers use free services. “but we have an integrated first policy under which we cross subsidise the profits earned from our tube services to run the buses.”

Chief Resilience officer of Paris Sebastien Maire said that car-centric development is not a good way towards development and Western cities realised this too late. Most European cities are reducing infrastructure meant for cars.

Interestingly, Helsinki plans to make private car ownership obsolete by 2025.

Alex Williams also pointed out that TIL's aim is to have 80 percent of all transportation in London be made on foot, or by cycle or on public transport by 2041. And for that the city has planned a package of interventions such as healthy streets and healthy people and a more efficient road network.

vandana.ramnani@nw18.com
First Published on Feb 22, 2019 08:47 pm
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