Category Archives: Urban and Regional Planning


Consultation should be as exhaustive as possible like engaging all residents, service providers, public agencies, planning and governing bodies, NGOs and CBOs. Consultation must be interactive like focus group discussion, citizen’s advisory committees. Method of hearing people’s concerns should be open house and concerned persons should be informed at least a week prior to hearing. Methods of inputs of the citizen’s views should be multi-media i.e., written, audio, visual. Ground for consideration of a view should be made clear like the issues pertaining to slum and vendors will be entertained if clamant is registered.

SWOT Analysis can be undertaken for identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with as much public involvement as possible.  This step can build on the information and findings from the neighborhood inventory and ground realities mapping stage.  Participants in the SWOT analysis should have the chance to review this information, discuss it with others, and provide meaningful feedback.  Depending on the situation, this might be accomplished with a series of workshops where people have the chance to review information, talk together and share ideas.  At this point in the process, all suggestions by the participants should be considered relevant.  There will be opportunities later to prioritize and focus resources.

Workshop facilitation for ensuring that a well-planned workshop goes well, even if it does not go as planned.  A facilitator is a neutral guide that helps the group stay on task, encourages participation, keeps the discussion fair and balanced, and ensures that all voices are heard. All workshops need some form of facilitation. A workshop might need at least one facilitator for every 8-10 participants.

There are several methods to facilitate the prioritization of issues, illicit information or gain group consensus. For example, polling retrieves anonymous and instantaneous quantitative input from a large group of people.  Everyone in a workshop can be asked to respond to simple multiple-choice questions.  Each question can be displayed on a screen with a list of possible responses to facilitate simultaneous response recording through electronic medium or on paper.  A summary of everybody’s response is then immediately available on the screen for everybody to see and further discuss.

A vision can take many forms and one possibility is a vision statement, which captures the desires and aspirations of the community in a manner that is brief enough to be easily communicated but rich enough to be meaningful.  The larger and more complex a community is, the more difficult this step might be.  The vision helps guide the rest of the process.  The vision might focus the process on a particular path, or it might confirm the need to make the process more comprehensive.  This step requires a mix of creative input and careful writing.  If possible, one workshop might be conducted to collect ideas for a vision from a broad range of participants.  Following this workshop, a small working group might spend time crafting a vision from the ideas gathered.  A second workshop should then take place for the public to review the vision.  It might be necessary to repeat this step until a satisfactory vision is obtained.

Drafting Goals and Objectives can build on a vision to create more detailed priorities for a community.  Goals are typically specific and measurable achievements that if met, suggest that significant progress is being made towards the vision.  Objectives are a series of smaller steps that need to be accomplished in order to meet each longer-term goal.  Goals should be developed with significant levels of public involvement, though the process might also call for smaller working groups that can work over a period of time on more details.  Objectives are another more detailed level that might be best accomplished in a series of session with smaller working groups or dedicated staff time.  In either case, when completed, the goals and objectives should be presented to the community in a draft form so that feedback can be gathered and changes made.

Implementation Strategies are another detailed part of the plan that should be constructed with a combination of public input and work from a core group of individuals, including representatives from the community, organizational staff, and perhaps individuals from outside the community who can provide information about efforts and experiences elsewhere.  The list of implementation strategies should be fairly exhaustive so that it includes many possible means to achieve the goals.  However, it should also provide focus so that the organizations and individuals taking responsibility for implementing the plan have clear directions.

Shashikant Nishant Sharma

Urban Planner

{Courtesy: Sharma, S.N. (2012), Participatory Planning in Plan Preparation: A Case of Delhi, Graduate Thesis, Department of Physical Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi}


Strengthening Financial Resources of Urban Local Bodies








Quote of the Day:

Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.

–Napoleon Hill

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.


Citizen participation is widely viewed as a key component in the planning process, and, for the most part, planners accept the notion that participation is important to producing enduring plans. Almost, all people agree that public participation is good but to what extent and how we can ensure that the participation taking place should be in good faith of the people and this very responsibility lies on the shoulders of a competent planner.

Participation mandates created and proposed by a competent planner and policy maker do affect local government attention to citizen involvement. Administrators need guidance for crafting citizen involvement requirements that will result in broad public participation in planning. Over time, the planners also stressed the need for better representation of the interests of disadvantaged and powerless groups in governmental decision making.  As stated by Diane Day (1997) collective decisions are more easily accepted by the individuals, and a sense of belonging in the community will be fostered. Burke (1968) asserts that citizen participants are sources of information and collective wisdom, the probability of public interests being served is achieved through public participation.

“The act of participation is held to be a form of citizen training, in which citizens working together to solve community problems not only learn how democracy works but also learn to value and appreciate cooperation as a problem solving methods” (Burke, 1968).

“It is much easier to change the behaviour of individuals when they are members of a group than to change any one of them separately. Secondly, individuals and groups resist decisions which are imposed upon them. They are more likely to support a decision and, equally important, more likely to assist in carrying it out if they have had a part in discovering the need for change and if they share in decision making process” (Burke, 1968). Thus, public participation can act as a behavioral change mechanism for inclusion of public in decision making.

Public participation can be an effective tool in supplementing the workforce in plan making and plan implementation process. There are many experts in an area and their knowledge and energy can be tapped efficiently if public involvement is carried out rationally and judiciously.

Cooption as a technique in public participation will help in harnessing the existing citizen groups for sanctioning the planning goals and objectives through absorbing new element or potential obstructions in decision making process.

It can be seen that many strategy for public participation can be tried to ensure effective and increased participation. There might be a need for adapting the various prevalent strategies according to the demand of the situation or the working environment.

Some of the benefits of the public participation can be enumerated as follows:

  1. It can enhance the quality of planning by creating processes that are more democratic and equitable. The poor often have little, if any, voice in government decisions. Consultation and dialogue between local government and interest groups representing the poor can give the latter more voice and influence over decisions.
  2. Participatory planning encourages the poor to be more responsible for, involved in and aware of their role in local governance. It can help reduce potential conflict and build local people’s feeling of ownership in the government’s plan.
  3. Participatory planning can result in programmes that are better and more efficient. By consulting the poor and giving voice to their concerns and needs, the resulting actions are more likely to be relevant and appropriate to the conditions they face. For instance, simply consulting people about their daily schedules can help government provide services at times when people are likely to make best use of them.
  4. Participatory planning can increase the transparency of governmental decision making. This allows citizens to understand how and why the local government is making certain decisions. It is also a way of holding government members accountable for what they planned to do. It can improve mutual understanding and trust between the poor and local government.
  5. User involvement raises awareness and is particularly important to enable an “informed choice”, and for the proper operation of on-site systems, as neglecting their needs and preferences can result in the non-use of the system with users reverting to open defecation.
  6. Working with a participatory planning approach improves motivation, learning and self-realization, feelings of ownership and self-esteem, and the possibility that the identified problems and solutions will truly reflect the felt needs of the stakeholders.

Citizens can be used as instrument for the attainment of specific end of development and in other we can say that public participation can be an strategy for mobilizing the government in framing or sanctioning development projects. Sometimes, public participation can be used as instrument for stability, educational tool for changing and modulating attitude, supplementing staff, cooperation for development.

After having gone through the various benefits and the rationale for enhanced public participation in planning process, it will be wise to study some of the negative aspects of the participatory planning process from the next section.

Shashikant Nishant Sharma

Urban Planner

{Courtesy: Sharma, S.N. (2012), Participatory Planning in Plan Preparation: A Case of Delhi, Graduate Thesis, Department of Physical Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi}

Sustainable Development Strategies and Approaches

Abstract— This paper on sustainable development strategies and Approaches is an attempt to get a holistic view of the sustainable development and how this can be achieved through the integrated development approach at various levels. The paper starts with understanding the definition of the sustainable development and they the author attempt to analyze the sustainable development strategies and approaches at different levels. Starting with building and moving towards sustainable neighbourhood and then towards the sustainable urban and regional areas is a good attempt to get an overall approach to the sustainable development rather than thinking about the different links and missing out the final goal and objectives of the sustainable development. Readers will find this article to get the overall picture that emerges after the continued efforts at different levels, international, national level, regional, neighbourhood and building level in such a lucid manner that any non-technical person can easily understand the concept of the sustainable development and various prevalent sustainable development strategies and approaches.

Note: For Quoting This Article

Sharma, S. N. (2013, October). Sustainable Development Strategies and Approaches. International Journal of Engineering & Technical Research, 1(8), 79-83.

Sharma, S. N. (2013). Sustainable Development Strategies and Approaches.
Sharma, S. N. (2013). Sustainable Development Strategies and Approaches.

To Read Full Article Please 


The intensity of the interaction between a city and its neighbouring towns and villages declines rapidly with distance from the city. Thus, people from nearby villages, within a distance of four to five kilometres, may commute daily to the city for work, shopping, education or entertainment. Farther away, a decline in the number of people commuting to the city (in both absolute as well as relative terms as well as in the frequency of movement of individuals to the city is noticed. Beyond a certain distance, which varies from city to city and is dependent on modes of transportation, daily movements are replaced by weekly or even irregular movements until ultimately such movements to the city become rare or absent. Apart from the effect on daily or periodic commuting to the city, the effect is also seen in the distribution of goods and services from the city to the surrounding villages. Similarly, the quantum of milk, vegetables, flowers and so on, coming to the city from the villages is also subjected to distance decay. Similar effect will be noticed in case of hospital patient’s or students attending school. The distance decay effect extends from the city to the outer limits of the city region. At this point the quantum of interaction becomes insignificant.


Though the social distance between urban and rural elite is substantial, Indian cities today play a major role in changing the social and economic environment of the villages. There is greater interaction between the city and the village than ever before and this interaction continues to increase. The city today serves as focal point for development in education and health and even for rural development. The spread of banking from cities to the rural areas was a remarkable achievement of the 1970s. In the process, rural wealth has been mobilized for development. The role of cities and small towns in bringing about the Green Revolution cannot be denied. The city is seen as a key element in regional development planning in India today. The city region is an area around the city over which the city exercises a dominant influence in relation to other neighbouring cities of equal importance. The structure of a city region is complex. It consists of a series of area of influence and area of dominance, apart from sets of smaller city regions which nest within it. There are three basic notions in relation to the structure of the city region which will help you in understanding it better.


1. Objectives

  • To study the existing institutional setup and financial status of the city administration and the participation of various organizations / agencies involved in plan formulation.

2. Governance

Governance is the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a countries affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mitigate their differences.

Governance may also be defined as the institutional structures, policy and decision making processes and rules (formal and informal) related to issues of public concern which determine:

· How power is exercised

· How decisions are taken

· How citizens have their say

3. Legislative Setup

3.1 Structure of governance in India

India has a 3 tier government structure. The lowest tier i.e. the local bodies has been introduced recently as compared to the other two.

The 3rd tier is provided for in the 73rd and 74th CAA 1992.


3.1.1 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992


The Act provides for decentralization of planning and governance in rural areas. It also provides for constitution of democratically elected Panchayats at 3 levels, preparation of plans for Economic development and Social justice, implementation of schemes for the same. Constitution of state finance commission – Setup to review the financial position of the Panchayats and make recommendations regarding the split of revenue between the state and the local bodies and other recommendations.

3.1.2 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992

It provides for decentralization of planning and governance in urban areas and the constitution of ward committees in municipalities to carry on the developmental works.


3.2.1 ‘Master plan’ means the master plan prepared and approved for any urban area in accordance with the stated provisions.


3.2.2 Power of the state government to order preparation of master plan: “the state government, by order, can direct that in respect of and for any urban area in the state specified in the order, a civil survey shall be carried out and a master plan shall be prepared, by such officer or authority as the state government may appoint for the purpose.”


3.2.3 Content of the master plan: the master plan shall define the various zones into which the urban area for which the plan has been prepared may be divided for the purposes of its improvement and indicate the manner in which the land in each zone is proposed to be used. Serve as basic pattern of frame work within which the improvement schemes of the various zones may be prepared.


3.2.4 Procedure of plan preparation:

Before preparing any master plan officially, the officer or authority appointed shall publish a draft of the master plan, and make a copy available for inspection and inviting objections & suggestions from every person before such date as may be specified. Such authority shall also give reasonable opportunity to every local authority to make any representations with respect to the master plan. After considering all objections & suggestions that may have been received, the authority shall finally prepare the master plan.

3.2.5 Approval of master plan:

Every master plan shall, as soon as maybe after its preparation, be submitted to the state government for approval in the prescribed manner. The state government may either approve the master plan without modifications or with such modifications as it may consider necessary or reject it with directions for the preparation of a fresh master plan.


3.2.6 Constitution of trusts: the state government may, by notification in the official gazette, establish a board of trustees to be called the ‘improvement trust’ of the place.


3.2.7 Constitution of trusts: the trust shall consist of, Chairman, such number of other persons, as may be determined by the state government for each trust.



3.3.4 Procedure of plan preparation & approval:

Before preparing any master plan officially, the municipality shall publish a draft of the master plan, and make a copy available for inspection and inviting objections & suggestions from every person before such date as may be specified. The municipality may, if it considers appropriate, constitute an advisory committee to consider the draft plan before it is given final shape. After considering all objections & suggestions that may have been received, the municipality shall finally prepare the master plan and send it to the state government for approval and after receipt of approval of the state government finally sanction the plan.


3.3.5 Implementation of the plan: after coming into operation, the municipality may initiate such action for implementation of the plan as may be deemed necessary, subject to the provisions of the act. Any master plan prepared under the provisions of any other law for the time being in force prior to the commencement of this act, shall be deemed to have been prepared under the provisions of this act.


3.3.6 Review of plan: it the state government or municipality at any time within ten years from the date on which a plan comes into operation is of the opinion that the revision of such plan is necessary, the state government may direct the municipality to revise or the municipality may of its own motion undertake revision of such plan.


3.3.7 Declaration of development areas: as soon as may be after a plan comes into operation, the municipality may, with the approval of state government and by notification, declare any area in the city to be a development area for the purposes of this act.

4. Line Departments

Electricity, irrigation, PHED, PWD, etc. are termed as line departments. They comprise of nominated/ appointed members. Their major role as of now is in the form of providing physical and social infrastructure. However, there is no inter-department co-ordination as of now.

5. Observations

The process of master plan preparation as of now, primarily involves the town planning department. The involvement of other organisations and agencies is limited to objections & suggestion. The District Planning Committee is presently concerned only with the preparation of district development plans. They do not have any major role to play in town level development plans. Under the municipalities act, 2009 the responsibility for the preparation and implementation of the master development plan rests with the municipal board. Further the municipal board is expected to distribute the responsibilities for implementation to the various line departments at the city level. It will also act as the coordinating body between them.

6. Finance

The income of municipality is generally from government grant in aid, chungi, house tax and other small cesses. Lalsot has also received financial aid under schemes like Nehru Rozgar Yojna and Swarnajayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojna. Revenue: the main sources of revenue include, land revenue, motor vehicles passenger and goods tax, exise, stamp duty registrations and stamps, sales tax, entertainment tax, registration of vehicles fee.

7.1 Grants and Aids:

  • National finance commission

  • State finance commission

  • Swarnajayanti shahri rozgar yojna

  • Mla fund

  • Government special aid

  • Other aid

  • Octroi compensation


The current process of planning is very isolated and limited in terms of inter department co-ordination. It would be a good idea to redistribute the powers and responsibilities such that the process can be made hierarchy friendly and more efficient.


Here, it becomes imperative to clearly understand the different terms used to indicate some form of participation of the public and their differences so as to use them in a proper context wherever it is used. The following paragraphs attempts to distinguish between commonly used terms in order to arrive at the appropriate term for the purpose of the study of participatory planning process in plan making.

Public participation may be defined as “It is distribution of powers which enables the have-not citizens presently excluded from political and economic processes to be deliberately included in the future. It is a strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it means by which they can induce significant social reforms which enables them share the benefits of the affluent society” (Arnstein, 1969). Here the author has stressed on the redistribution of power as participation enabling process. Now let’s see some more definitions by some other authors and agencies.

“Participation is an active process by which beneficiary/ client group influence the direction, execution of a developmental project in a view of enhancing their well-being in terms of income, personal growth, self-reliance or any other value they cherish” (World Bank, 1987). Here, participation leads to influencing the decision making process.

“Empowering people to mobilize their own capacities, be social actors rather than passive subjects, manage the resources, make decisions and control the acts that affect their lives. It involves people directly and actively in all stages of the management and decision-making process” (Uganda Project Team, 2007). Here, empowerment of the public is sought after for making public efficient in taking decision and controlling the acts that affect them more often directly.

“Participation is the process through which stakeholders influence and share control over priority setting, policy-making, resource allocations and access to public goods and services” (World Bank, 2000). Here, participation means taking a shared responsibility for controlling and influencing policy making which leads to proper resource allocation and access to serves.

“Participation is a voluntary act that occurs when people become conscious of the value of participatory action and deem it desirable to become involved in the different activities undertaken in participatory project or initiative” (Wiesenfeld and Sanchez, 2002). Here, authors feel that participation is a voluntary action and depends on them to decide to what extent they should participate in the development initiatives.

The term community participation had been in use for a long time and this refers to a limited number of participants ensuring efficiency of participation. Here, we will explore the views of some of the authors and World Bank on the term community participation.

“Community participation as the process by which individuals, families and communities assume responsibility for their own welfare and develop capacity to contribute to their own and community’s development” (Oakley and Marsden, 1984). Here, different individuals or groups on their own resume responsibility for the development of capacity and finally contributing to the development of the community as a whole.

“Community participation is a process through which community groups help advance their interests and the greater opportunity for it the greater the chance of making improvements in living condition” (Sandhu, 2005). Here, the author talks of a practical approach to the development initiated and advanced by the community themselves.

“Community participation is a process through which stakeholder’s influence and share control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources which affect them” (World Bank, 2000). World banks talks of the sharing of the control over the development initiatives and decision making by the way of the involvement of the stakeholders.

Participatory planning has been in practice for a long time in the field of the urban planning. There have been a number of interpretations of the same term by different authors and organization/authorities involved in policy framing. Here, we will explore the different connotations of the term participatory planning as professed by various authors.

“Participatory planning is a set of processes through which diverse groups and interests engage together in reaching for a consensus on a plan and its implementation” (RTPI, 2001).The Royal Town Planning Institute of London sees participatory planning a set of processes for consensus building.

Collaborative planning is a method designed to empower stakeholders by elevating them to the level of decision-makers through direct engagement and dialogue between stakeholders and public agencies, to solicit ideas, active involvement, and participation in the community planning process (Innes, Judith, Booher and David, 2000). Modified form of the participatory planning is collaborative planning and it stresses on the engagement of various stakeholders for reaching atconsensus.

“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” (Olthelen, 1999).In the article on Participatory Approaches to planning for Community Forestry, author defines participatory planning as initial steps for deciding common agenda for the development.

“Participatory Planning depends not on some virtuous ‘good planners’ but on struggle and hard work, insight and imagination, moral sensitivity and political perception too” (John Forester, 1999). Here, authors feel that there is something more than the thinking of virtuous planners which leads to the practice of participatory planning.

Participatory planning can be defined as joint actions of local people and professionals with the objective of formulating development plans and selecting the best available alternatives for their implementation of the plan for the development of the community and society at large.

Participation of the citizen is enabled by the social and political system of the country and the local bodies which are primary players of the game of the development. In this regards the concept of the local self-governance becomes a ray of hope.

“Local self-government is essentially the empowerment of the people by giving them not only the voice, but the power of choice as well, in order to shape the development they feel is appropriate to their situation. It implies maximum decentralization of powers to the elected bodies to function as autonomous units with adequate power, authority and resources to discharge the basic responsibility of bringing about ‘economic development and social justice”(Sen Committee, 2001).

In 2007, the term Local Area Plans was included in the MPD – 2021 stating it as a plan for ward/sub-zone. Zonal Plans also stated in their preamble that indication of uses other than residential and facility corridor shall be undertaken at the stage of Local Area Plans.

“Local Area Planning is … for addressing the unplanned and illegal urban development … By combining neighbourhood-level data with stakeholder participation … to reform Delhi’s entire building byelaw system including procedural, planning and building performance components” (USAID, 2009).

“Local area plan is by definition a plan based on the local needs and characteristics. Thus, it requires framing area specific objectives” (MCD, 2005).

“Local area plan means the plan of a ward/sub-zone to be prepared by the concerned body” (Review of Draft MPD, 2007).

“Local area plan means the plan of a ward/sub-zone of existing built up areas where redevelopment/ renewal/ rejuvenation etc. are to be done with public participation to achieve the ultimate goal of planned development at the macro level” (DDA, 2008).

From the above definitions of the local area plan it becomes clear that it is a local level planning by local urban bodies in a participatory manner. It has always been the responsibility of top managers who prepare project proposals and plan interventions to the stage of implementation, without consulting those whose very lives are to be affected by such projects. As a result, such plans are usually considered donor/government driven and hence the intended beneficiaries do not take full responsibility for the process and outcome. The communities do not feel part of the process, which leads to limited sustainability after the expiry of such projects or interventions.

“The bottom-up planning process involves extensive opportunities for community participation, surveys, focus group convened at neighbourhood level, active interest of city’s youth, public hearings and public awareness campaign” (Wheler and Beatley, 2004). Bottom up planning is a methodology that seeks to involve communities in the planning process right from the inception of the project idea, risk assessment, and through proposal development to project implementation.Strategic planning is long term planning. Closely related to the overall goals of the response and focusing on policy priorities. This concept of planning, given the fact that resources are scarce, requires that its priorities and objectives yield maximum benefit and impact.

It is assumed that citizen participation is a desired and necessary part of participatory planning mechanism. As Spiegel (1968) noted, “Citizen Participation is the process that can meaningfully tie programs to people.”In time, many of the urban settlements began to grow and expand, both numerically and economically. This made it increasingly difficult for every citizen to actively participate in all community decisions. To fill this void in the decision making process, people began to delegate their involvement to a representative, either directly or through a community group. Examples of this delegation were seen in the establishment of our system of selecting officials by public elections, and the increase of volunteer associations and organizations.  In spite of the fact that direct citizen participation has declined, ample opportunities for citizens to get involved in their community’s destiny. Let’s understand:

a)    The importance of participation.

b)    The conditions under which citizens will participate

c)    The approaches to involving citizens in community improvement programs and projects.

Citizen participation can be viewed from the perspective of benefits to be gained and costs to be borne. Some of the benefits that participation can provide are as follows:

a.    The citizen can bring about desired change by expressing one’s desire, either individually or through a community group.

b.    The individual learns how to make desired changes.

c.    The citizen learns to understand and appreciate the individual needs and interests of all community groups.

d.    The citizen learns how to resolve conflicting interests for the general welfare of the group.

e.    The individual begins to understand group dynamics as it applies to mixed groups.

Additional reasons could be cited to emphasize why citizens should participate in community decisions. However, the case is rested with these. In summary, decision making that is delegated by others will not always be in the best interest of an individual and his or her neighbors. Community betterment is a product of citizen involvement.