Tag Archives: Urban and Regional Planning

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN PLAN PREPARATION IN DELHI

Delhi is a progressive city of India and it one of the town to have a number of planning documents to guide and monitor the planning and development of the town. Delhi’s Master Plan came into force in 1962 for a perspective up to 1981, was then revised for a perspective up to 2001 again revised for 2021 which is supplemented by a number of Zonal Development Plans. The city has a City Development Plan prepared in 2006 to augment the infrastructural needs of the towns. Now, in 2010, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) initiated preparation of Local Area Plans for every wards of the municipal area of the town starting with preparation of plans for 33 wards on the MCD on a pilot basis.

There are various provisions (discussed in subsequent case studies in detail) in various planning documents like Delhi Development Act, Master Plans, City Development Plan, Guidelines for Local Area Plan preparation which talks of public participation in one form or other and the author will try to explore and review the various dimensions of the public participation like purposes, extent and intensity of the public participation.

In this chapter, the effectiveness, intensity and extent of the public participation will be reviewed and analysed for four case studies namely, objections and suggestions for Master Plan 2021, Community Consultation of the City Development Plan, Land-Use Re-Designation for a plot in old JNU campus, VasantKunj and the provisions and practices undergoing in Local Area Plan preparation of Delhi initiated, coordinated and monitored by Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Starting with the distinction between statutory and non-statutory public participation, cases of various public participation instances in different plans of Delhi will be analysed in detail for assessment of the public participation.

1.1       STATUTORY PROVISION OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Objections and Suggestions in master plan is a widely used and acknowledged technique of public participation. In this technique, plan is formulated by expert committee and the draft plan is put into public domain and objections-suggestions are invited from the general public, various public agencies, institutions, organizations, eminent personality and government officials. A high powered committee reviews and hear the public objections and suggestions and then they give justification for change or not and the final decision is communicated to the concerned agency and he incorporates the recommendations of the committee and the final plan is published.

1.2       NON-STATUTORY PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Methods of Stakeholders Participation

This widely used technique in CDPs of India is intended to obtain client feedbacks and to make development interventions more responsive to the demand. “This technique intends to serve clients better by making service providers aware of the clients’ priorities, preferences and feedbacks” (Nandy, 2007). It includes systematic listening and consultation which requires lengthier, repeated and more meaningful interactions amongst the stakeholders.

Workshop Based Methods

The aim of workshops is to create an atmosphere where stakeholders themselves can do and learn about the project and thus sustain the project. Consensus is built by a trained facilitator who has diverse knowledge and interests, through a series of activities. It encourages social learning by promoting shared responsibility, rules as well as working relationships are established by stakeholders.

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}

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TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES OF PARTICIPATION

The following paragraphs will discuss some of the prevalent tools and techniques used in the participatory planning process being undertaken by various authorities across the world. Public participation has a vast theoretical and practical tools and techniques. Let’s look at some of the tools and techniques for public participation discussed in the document of (European Union Water Directors’ Meeting, 2002).

Citizens Jury/ Citizen Advisory Committee

Group of 12-20 randomly selected citizens, gathered in such a way as to represent a microcosm of their community, who meet over several days to deliberate on a policy questions. They are informed about the issue, hear evidence from witnesses and cross-examine them. They then discuss the matter amongst themselves and reach a decision through consensus.

Strengths of this technique are many It creates informed, active, engaged citizenry and promotes common good as a societal objective. It promotes self-transformation and development and provides opportunities to introduce new perspectives and challenge existing ones. It helps in consensus building and promotes communication between governments and governed. It also brings legitimacy and democratic control to non-elected public bodies

Weaknesses of the technique are fewer than benefits. There is no formal powers; lack of binding decision accountability to act upon decision /recommendation. It is exclusive – only a few individuals participate.Potential problems lie in initial stages of preparation (i.e., jury selection, agenda setting, witness selection) – these have to do with representation (who participates?) responsiveness (what jury is asked to do); and information transfer (how jury is informed?)

The technique can be recommended for use when sponsoring organization are clear about what issues it wants to address, how much it can spend on process, and whether it can follow through on the advice. It is better for focused questions about concrete issues, than on large scale issues and should be part of a wider public involvement strategy.The development of the agenda should be overseen by an advisory board made up of key stakeholders

Planning Cells/Committees

This technique is similar to a citizens’ jury in form and function. It is sponsored by local or national governing authorities to help with the decision making process. Discussions/deliberation takes place in Cells of about 25 participants in size. Results are articulated in a report that is presented to the sponsor, the media, and any other interested group. Local/national sponsor has to agree to take decisions into consideration.

This technique is good for small size of individual cells and its non-intimidating nature allows for innovative ideas and active participation. Participants represent all citizens and not special interest groups. Anyone in the population has a chance of being selected to be a part of this process. It makes decision makers more accountable because they have to defend their position resulting decisions are frequently implemented.Weaknesses of the technique are that problems are defined by local authority and only useful for problems in need of unique decisions. Decisions not always feasible and it becomes hard to keep bias out of information dissemination process.It can be used when other methods fail to resolve a conflict. It is best in situations that require a quick response to an urgent issue where there are a number of possible decisions that can be made.

Workshops and Seminars

The authority or the consultants invites the stakeholders. Usually 2-6 hour workshop is held. The authority or the consultants talk about their plans and proposals and seek the opinion of the participants in writing or oral.Strengths of the technique are that it can be used effectively for communicating information about the plans and proposals. It is useful method for obtaining informed opinions from stakeholders.Weakness of the technique is that it is exclusionary process as selected participants are invited for the workshop or seminar. There is ambiguity in the process of selection of stakeholders and participant for the workshop. It is recommended as a tool for encouraging discussionand deliberation, but needs to be used with much caution because of the problems associated with it.

Deliberative Polling

It builds on the opinion poll by incorporating element of deliberation. It involves larger numbers than citizen’s juries and may involve less time. It measures what public would think if it was informed and engaged around an issue.Strength of the Technique is that it provides insights into public opinions and how people come to decisions. It helps in seeking informed opinions, does not force people to reach consensus.Weakness of the Technique is that it requires a lot of preparation time.Although sample size is large and random, ensuring representativeness is difficult. It is recommended for drawing insight into public opinion and helps useful input into public decision processes.Best suited to issues with options and about which the public is not knowledgeable.

Citizens Panels

It consists of statistically representative sample of residents in a given area. Most comprise several thousand citizens who represent the general population of an area. Panel views are regularly sought using a survey instrument (e.g. postal, telephone surveys).It is anexpensive and effective way to learn about citizens’ needs and preferences. Panel data can be analyzed for multiple purposes and disaggregated for sub-level analysis (i.e. ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic, geographic area).Weakness of the Technique is that there is exclusivity of participant selection process. Consultation agenda determined by decision-making body (i.e. top down) and under-representation of hard-to-reach groups who refuse to participate.Due to the expense as well as the design, the panel is best suited for the development of major community wide policy documents. Limit to new policy areas, where community opinion and policy direction have yet to be determined and mobilization has not yet occurred.

Focus Groups

It is a onetime discussion of a particular topic. It involves 6-12 individuals selected to meet specific criteria in order to broadly represent a particular segment of society. One-time face-to-face meeting structured to be informal to encourage open discussion among participants.Successful focus group may lead to consensus and feelings of enrichment among participants. It provides good venue for learning about needs of a particular group. It remains largely informal, so participants can discuss issues in relaxed atmosphere. It is a good way to gauge the opinions of the public.Lack of informed participants produces superficial discussion. Selection criteria can create bias in eliciting opinions. Limited number of participants limits representativeness of opinions. There is always potential for ideas expressed to be influenced/shaped by interaction/exchange with others.It can be a tool for encouraging discussion and deliberation, but needs to be used with much caution because of the problems associated with it.

Surveys

This is a process of soliciting information from a given representative sample of citizens through questionnaires. Same questions are asked of ever individual surveyed. There are a variety of survey types: postal, interviewer, telephone.It helps in soliciting information from representative sample of citizens. Same questions are asked of ever individual surveyed and thus results represent the ground realities. There are a variety of survey types: postal, interviewer, telephone.The lists may not be representative or comprehensive. Questions need to be somewhat simple and straightforward. Survey results are often not comparable. The effectiveness of surveys is affected by the rates of response. Fundamental decisions have to be made before the survey begins which limits the scope.As it is a time consuming process, it is not a good method if quick results are required. It can be used during the beginning phases of a study (useful in detecting issues that need to be addressed).

Public Hearings

It is a form of public meeting limited in size. It tends to involve only interested citizens and usually experts.It has great potential to inform citizens and potential for improved decision making. It helps in minimizing the conflicts.It may be dominated by special interest groups and feed-back obtained from this format needs to be treated carefully because it may not be representative of the community. It leads to exclude the inarticulate and perhaps disadvantaged groups. It is recommended when there is a pre-submission phase which allows the public time to become familiar with the issues. This process has been used more frequently as the number of the complaints are increasing day by in the public offices for various planning projects. The expert members are better equipped to handle such hearings.

Open Houses

The public is invited to drop by at any time at a set location on a set day(s) and times. They can speak with staff, view the displays set up in the room and break into small discussion groups.The technique provides a relaxed atmosphere for discussion and debate. It enables staff to tailor responses according to the needs/questions of the publicThere is potential for lack of clarity in purpose and it is staff-resource intensive exercise which needs trained facilitators to co-ordination the various conflicting interest groups and helping them reach for consensus after the deliberations and discussions.

Citizen Advisory Committee

It can be made up of a variety of different organizations (e.g. from governmental to public). It is intended to represent the broader public.If committee is balanced, deliberations can be fruitful. Their advice should influence decision making process. Informed citizens can boost trust in institutions and reduce conflict.It may not be a representative group of people but comprises of the expert members of the community and the government agencies undertaking planning process.

Referenda

It is a process wherein an issue is put to popular vote. It can be initiated by governmental or other organizations, or sometimes the citizenry. Results may or may not be considered binding.It incites discussion and interest in public. It is a way to learn public views and way to get citizens directly involved with the legislative process. All voters have equal influence. It can potentially involve all members of a local or national populationResults may not be representative if there is low voter turnout Limited number of times you can use it. It has potential for undue influence if one organization has greater resources than another when campaigning for or against a proposed referendum.

Here is the recapitulation of the important points regarding the various tools and techniques of public participation in the table given below.

Table 2‑1 Comparative Tables for Various Techniques for Participation

Source: Compiled from European Union Water Directors’ Meeting, 2002

The above table no. 2.1 gives us some details on the level of participation, their major nature and character of participation process and finally authors has suggested their uses at various stages of public participation processes like informing, consulting and resolution of the differences i.e. consensus building. The choice of the various tools and techniques of the public participation depends on various factors like nature of the participation, scale of the planning, understanding of the needs, expertise and capacity of the authority and agency undertaking such initiative, provisions of the guidelines and the willingness of the authority to engage public in what manner.

In context of urban development, we will use the tools and techniques adopted in Master Plans and City Development Plans. This will form the basis for our study and further adaptation for Local Area plans. Hence, we will discuss the following tools and techniques will be dealt in greater details in the succeeding chapter.

  1. a) Objections and Suggestions
  2. b) Stakeholders Participation
  3. c) Workshop Based Methods

It has been a great experience exploring the various terms and definitions related to public participation and the minor distinction among them. From the definitions discussed above we have reached to a consensus that participatory planning a process of engaging various stakeholders and empowering them so as to make them an integral part of the process of information sharing and decision making through the process of consensus building and other forms of consultations.

While discussing the various methods of the public participation which evolved over time and which had been popular during some period of time under the prevailing socio-economic and political conditions. For the purpose of plan preparation, we have come to conclusion that the prevalent techniques and tools that can be effective used and which is being used in various planning exercises like open house discussion, workshops and seminars, invitation for objection and suggestion and stakeholders’ consultation with experts are more relevant.

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}

TECHNIQUE OF EFFECTIVE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: CONSULTATION

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

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Quote of the Day:

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

–Napoleon Hill

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RATIONALE FOR PARTICIPATORY PLANNING

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.

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DISTANCE DECAY EFFECT

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.

THE CITY AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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.