Draft Master Plan 2041: Focus on density, public spaces in wake of Covid-19
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the draft Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2041 makes provisions for medical emergencies, with a specific focus on physical distancing, decentralising workspaces, and limiting population density, apart from other post-Covid practices.
The draft plan, which was made public for comments on Wednesday, pushes for mixed-use development, creating large public spaces, reducing built densities through planned regeneration to allow distancing during pandemics, as part of its plans to develop “pandemic-resilient” infrastructure.
The coronavirus disease pandemic has, for over a year now, forced authorities to issue lockdowns, curb movement and travel, and recommend work-from-home where possible, in a bid to ensure distancing in public places, apart from bringing to light the limitations in the city’s public health infrastructure.
Officials of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said the problem of population density needs to be addressed using planning provisions.
“Decentralised workspaces will be promoted in the form of co-working spaces, shared workspaces within slum rehabilitation projects, support for home-based work, and more. Further, common community spaces must be set up, so that they can be utilised as refuge spots, common kitchens or quarantine spaces as required,” said an official of the land-owning agency.
Last year, DDA asked the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), which has drafted the MPD-2041 with the development agency, to incorporate provisions for pandemic resilient infrastructure in Delhi.
Hitesh Vaidya, director of NIUA, said, “This pandemic has shown that it cannot be business as usual anymore. Health services need to be integrated with the rest of the city’s infrastructure. There is also a need to plan neighbourhoods in detail.”
During the pandemic, several school buildings, vacant housing complexes and stadiums were used to set up temporary Covid care centres. To this effect, DDA officials said the master plan must provide for multi-facility plots (particularly in dense, unplanned areas) that can be temporarily repurposed, if needed, during a disaster.
In the past two decades, Delhi has witnessed outbreaks and epidemics of diseases like dengue, H1N1 and now Covid-19.
MPD-2041 also stresses the need for better designed buildings in order to reduce the dependence on mechanical ventilation systems, which pose a threat during airborne epidemics, such as the coronavirus.
Apart from pandemic resilience, the master plan also has provisions to reduce seismic vulnerability and the chances of floods in urban areas.