THE 2021 Indore Development Plan (draft) is obsessed with land use allocation and fails to provide a cogent roadmap for the City’s holistic development.
The document is chiefly aimed at benefiting the land-mafia while depriving ordinary residents of recreational and green spaces. Its architects have displayed a regrettable lack of familiarity with modern urban planning techniques by totally ignoring civic and housing infrastructure requirements of economically weaker sections.
The draft is also legally untenable as it incorporates land categorisations like ‘mixed use’ that have no sanction under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1973.
The opinion and consent of residents has not been sought during the preparation of the draft and this will definitely harm the City. However, instead of meekly accepting the arbitrary diktats of the draft, residents should oppose the come together to ensure that they receive their rightful share of urban amenities.
These were among the views expressed at a discussion on the 2021 master plan draft organised by Abhyas Mandal at Jall Sabha Griha on Sunday.
Urban planning expert R C Chugh, MPCC spokesman K K Mishra, IMC Speaker Shankar Lalwani and veteran journalist Jawaharlal Rathore were among those present on the occasion.
In his address, Mishra questioned the Town and Country Planning Department’s right to prepare the master plan. “As per the 73rd and 74th Amendment the City Development Plan should be prepared by the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC),” asserted the bearded Congressman.
Mishra declared that the 2021 draft was shortsighted and riddled with discrepancies. “The 1971 master plan designed for a population of 12 lakh had three City centres. The number has remained static in the present master plan even though it has a design population of 35 lakh.
Furthermore, no space has been allocated for rail and bus links. The draft is also silent on which agency will be the nodal agency for implementing the proposals and this omission makes the plan suspect,” he charged.
He concluded with an appeal to staff the appeals committee with technical experts including architects, structural engineers and environmentalists with an unblemished reputation.
IMC Speaker Shankar Lalwani revealed that the Corporation had objected to 28 provisions made in the master plan draft.
“The draft makes no mention of the nodal agency and monitoring committee. We will try our best to ensure that planning zones are included in the project. However, for this to happen, the support of residents is essential,” he declared.
Former Mayor-in-Council (MiC) member Sameer Chitnis vented spleen at town planners for eradicating green pockets in many areas of the City.
He also cited several discrepancies in satellite images used in the draft plan. Babubhai Mehidpurwala expressed concern at the neglect of water bodies. Rajesh Aggarwal suggested that the town planners exploit the City’s road connectivity and geographical location to develop Indore as a transport or food storage hub.
Media magnate Abhay Chhajlani, who has himself been in the news several times for controversial land deals, suggested the
formation of a committee comprising technical experts and ordinary residents to iron out disputes. The programme was conducted by Ashok Kothari and Manohar Dev proposed a vote of thanks.
At a similar programme organised on Saturday, urban planner R C Chugh, who was also part of today’s programme, said, “The 2021 Indore Development Plan draft has failed to earmark a detailed zoning plan and assigned ‘mixed’ land use for certain areas, a category that has no sanction under the Town and Country Planning Act.”
The retired PWD engineer’s remarks set the tone for the discussion titled ‘Our point of view’ organised by the Indore chapter of the Institution of Engineers at SGSITS.
The meeting concluded with a resolution to adopt a more proactive approach to urban planning violations and strengthening opposition to the 2021 draft by involving the common man.
The engineers also voted to encapsulate suggestions and queries raised during the meet in the form of a booklet and submit it to the 91-member claims
and objections committee by August 8. The brainstorming session proved to be refreshingly different from the string of other meetings devoted to the master plan that have been organised during the last fortnight.
Instead of merely debunking shortcomings like flexi-zoning, lack of green spaces etc, the engineers questioned the very
legality of the document by listing specific violations of the Act in the 2021 draft.
“The document declares on page 172 that all land use allocations are only symbolic and the verdict of the competent authority will be final. But who is this extra-constitutional authority? Does the Town Planning Act allow any provisions for such sweeping powers?” queried Chugh.
Others, like structural engineer Atul Seth and Waterworks expert Sunil Ajmera vented spleen on malleable land use categories and discrepancies in data.
“The draft is self-contradictory, riddled with factual errors, totally inaccurate in parts. The planners’ lack of in-depth study or even basic urban management norms is evident in ludicrous suggestions like deviating the Saraswati and Khan rivers to free real estate,” declared Ajmera.
He also poured scorn on the Town and Country Planning Department for failing to do its homework. “Without conducting any detailed studies the 2021 draft has declared that planning area has no mineral deposits.’’
His counterpart Atul Seth, in an hour-long commentary punctuated by frequent returns to his seat, was even more caustic. “The draft is, in a sense, a very egalitarian document. Earlier only rich builders like Kalani could get land use changed in their favour.
Now the same opportunity has been granted to everyone,” he quipped sarcastically. The engineer also lambasted the architects of the 2021 draft for including flood-prone areas in residential usage categories and insufficient green cover, an objection that was voiced all too frequently during the session.
Environmental expert and SGSITS alumnus Sudheer Urdhwareshe stressed the need for the master plan to propose storm water drains and effective disposal of sewage.
“Merely 15 per cent encroachment on nullahs resulted in the flash floods witnessed last year. And the master plan draft proposes to shift the Khan and Saraswati rivers both of which are the major storm water drain carriers. Can you imagine what will happen if this is done?’’
He also expressed concern at the declining green cover. “Urban planning norms for medium density population areas dictate that there have to be 1.5 trees for every resident. At this rate there need to be at least 82 lakh trees in the City by 2035. But the master plan doesn’t leave any space for that.”
IE (I), ILC, Indore, Chairman Dr M D Agrawal and secretary V S Charhate chaired the discussion, which was moderated by Abhay Gupta.