Chandigarh needs to involve Mohali, Panchkula to preserve heritage
From its creation to preserving its unique nature, Chandigarh, a landlocked city, is heavily dependent on its periphery, which now encompasses two fast expanding cities of Mohali and Panchkula.
Last week, the Haryana government unveiled the Panchkula Metropolitan Development Authority (PMDA). Punjab already has the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). But for the whole of the tricity, with Chandigarh at its centre—capital of both the states—there is neither an institutional mechanism for plan coordination nor a comprehensive development plan.
The city, originally designed for half a million people, has a population of more than a million now, and caters to an additional million population of both Mohali and Panchkula regions.
The Covid-19 pandemic acutely highlighted the interdependence of the tricity region and a need for coordinated action among the three cities.
Regional plan needed
The Chandigarh Master Plan (CMP) 2031 expects a symbiotic relationship with the regional urban areas. A sensitive and coordinated development is required to safeguard the region’s natural and man-made heritage, emphasises the CMP.
Environmental protection in the tricity, designated agriculture zones, preservation of heritage, integrated transportation plan of the region, decentralisation of the bulk material markets, augmentation of affordable housing, physical and social infrastructure in respective towns, effective solid waste management and disaster management for the tricity require a regional plan.
Advocating for coordinated regional planning, former UT adviser Manoj Parida said, “There should be a common tricity development authority. It should have representatives from UT, Punjab, Haryana and the Union government. Secretary, urban development, can be its chairman.”
A regional planning board on the lines of National Capital Region Planning Board is needed for the Chandigarh metropolitan area too, said Sumit Kaur, former UT chief architect.
Plan on paper only
In 1975, the Chandigarh Urban Complex (CUC) was created by the ministry of urban development, incorporating Chandigarh and CUC boundary in lieu of the 8 km radius around the city.
In 1984, the Chandigarh Interstate Capital Region (CISCR) was created by the Central Town and Country Planning Organisation comprising the CUC and the 16-km radius periphery control area (outside CUC) along with portions beyond the 16-km radius in Punjab and Haryana. This total area measured 2,431 square kilometres.
Consequent to it, an Inter-State Chandigarh Regional Plan 2001 was prepared, which covered a 50-sq km radius. In 2016, the ministry recommended creation of an Inter-State Chandigarh Regional Plan 2051, and institutions like a tricity planning development authority.
R Srinivas, town and country planner, the ministry of housing and urban affairs, said, “Urban planning is a state subject. The Union government had earlier taken initiatives for creation of an inter-state regional plan, but the two principal states, Haryana and Punjab, haven’t actively supported it. So, these have remained on paper only.”
Sumit Kaur, former UT chief architect, said: “Preparation of interstate regional plan is needed to dissipate rather than concentrate development around Chandigarh. We should create more Chandigarhs and not create another Delhi here. There has to be legal backing for the plan.”
The plan should be legally binding on all the constituents so that its sanctity can be maintained, added Kaur.
WHAT A REGIONAL PLAN WOULD DO