Myths and Facts of Local Area Plan

Delhi is a big city-state whose most of the area has got urbanized or some are under urbanization process. In spite of various provisions, guidelines, norms and development controls; city has overrun the projected development potential and planned growth pattern giving rise to many problems. To address the ground realities Municipal Corporation of Delhi initiated projects of preparation of Local Area Plan for 36 wards through different consultants. It should be noted that Delhi is one of the India city to have a Master Plan and Zonal Plans for guiding and controlling the urban growth and development. If you ever visit Delhi you will wonder how the city has evolved over a long time and still claim for status of heritage city as the city planners and policy makers has ensures the conservation and promotion of its rich cultural and architectural heritage. Delhi has very well working Development Authority which has played a great role in giving Delhi a planned growth pattern.

To materialize the provisions of 74th Constitutional Amendment Act and to ensure decentralization of planning is empower local people to take action and participate in various stages of plan preparation and plan implementation.

Decentralization can be perceived as a process with of devolution of power, responsibilities, functions and finances to the local bodies. The primary objective of decentralization programs is to improve resource allocation and service delivery by bringing decision making process closer to the citizens. Participatory planning is part of the decentralization process and it aims to identify the critical problems, joint priorities, and adoption of various socio‐economic development strategies for the development and welfare of the community. As stated by Olthelen (1999), participatory planning is the initial step in the definition of a common agenda for development by a local community and an external entity or entities. Over the period, this initial step is expected to evolve for the parties concerned towards a self‐sustaining development planning process at the local level.

After working with two consultants preparing the Local Area Plan till second stage, I felt there is almost no public participation in the plan making process which I do think is good for any effective plan making process. The people for whom plan is being prepared must be included in plan making and implementation process only then planning can achieve its desired outcome. There should be clear cut guideline for consultants to ensure public participation which they should not bypass to make plan making an authoritarian action which is missing in the guidelines and various documents issued in this regards through Delhi Development Authority and Municipal Corporation of Delhi except for the customary objections and suggestions after the draft plan is prepared.

There are many differences in the plans prepared by the different consultants in spite of some attempts to universalize the legend; the legends used by different consultants are still different for the Local Area Plans which is basic for effective and easy interpretation of any plan.

There is no special act or regulation which ensures the preparation of Local Area Plan and Master Plan of Delhi, 2021 vaguely says that local municipal body can make local area plan for a ward.

There is no specification of period for which a local area plan will be prepared and revised which means which may result in a planning exercise having no impact on ground reality but only in the academic field.

The planning boundaries of Local Area Plans are the existing municipal boundaries and have no or little conformity with the Zonal Plan boundaries already prepared and implemented. You might know that the municipal boundaries keep on changing to account for increase in population and creation of new wards according to population above the permissible limit decided by the Election Commission.

The pilot project taken up by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is quite judicious and they have selected sample wards containing the old walled city, well planned colonies, squatter settlements, fringe areas, resettlement colonies, regularized and to be regularized say the notified colonies. This selection will result in the identification of threats, opportunities, strength, weakness, problems, issues and potential of the areas under study and which are representative in nature of different parts of Delhi and the Local Area Plan preparation project will result in good database for further plan preparation and implementation of Local Area Plans.

The engagement of different consultants of Delhi will give valuable inputs for the intellectual and professional ideas in framing the proposals for different Local Areas Plans dealing with different nature of settlements spread across Delhi.

Delhi is a role model and trend settler in Urban Planning for India and the successful preparation and implementation will guide many small and large towns to adopt this planning model mainly engaging the elected urban local bodies and the people of the town or city. This will surely help in popularizing and fructifying the concept of effective participatory planning and ultimately decentralization of planning.

In spite for many drawbacks existing or perceived the preparation of Local Area Plan is going to revolutionize the planning and implementation in India.

Shashikant Nishant Sharma

4.6 References and Bibliography

Thomas, Kurian (2003) “Kerala” in Inter‐State Study on Rural Decentralisation, Project Report, Vinod Vyasulu and team, Centre for Good Governance Hyderabad: 70‐87

Oltheten. Theo M.P.    (1999). Participatory Approaches to planning for Community Forestry, A synthesis report, Forests, Trees and People Programme, Forestry Department Working Paper No. 2.

Isaac, Thomas, T M, with Richard Franke (2000): Local Democracy and Development: People’s Campaign for Decentralised Planning in Kerala, Leftword, New Delhi.

Prepared by Delhi Development Authority and approved by the Central Government under Section 11A(2) of Delhi Development Act 1957 and notified on 7th February 2007, Master Plan for Delhi, 2021

{Originally Published in NOSPLAN annual Magazine of Student of Planning in year January, 2012.}

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