Despite being a new suburb, civic conditions in and around Hi-Tec City cry for attention, writes V. Geetanath

It is relatively a new suburb more than a decade-old yet the civic conditions in Hi-Tec City and its environs belie the swish buildings all round. The place and also the new growth region of Gachibowli lack an underground sewage network or storm water drains, proper water supply not to mention crater filled roads and encroached water bodies. Growth happened in bursts and not according to a plan.

It’s symptomatic of the lack of proper planning even when policy makers had the advantage of providing for civic infrastructure as the development was happening in practically virgin lands. Even the core city and other populated suburbs gets ravaged during the rainy season because of the creaking decades old underground sewage network or lack of it and storm drains made ineffective with unbridled encroachments and linked with household sewers.

Violations

Same goes with land use patterns too with large scale violations of residential and commercial zones. Less said about the road conditions the better.

Urban planners and policy makers are now saying that the time has come for having an integrated Master Plan (MP) not only incorporating road patterns and land uses but also prospective civic infrastructure necessary for the next two decades.

“Each department like the water & sewerage board, power units, roads & buildings, forest wing, should come out with their requirements and the same should be incorporated into the MP along with a traffic management plan. The plan should be notified only after a thorough discussion with different sections of the people,” observes GHMC Additional Commissioner (Planning) K. Dhananjaya Reddy.

City Development Plan

It was only after the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) came into being that the Centre pressed urban bodies to come out with a City Development Plan (CDP) having the utilities perspective plan. “While MP is being prepared we do get proposals for roads development but usually the alignment is changed by the time the notification is made. CDP and MP need to go together for better planning,” avers Director of Town & Country Planning B. Purushothama Reddy.

The Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration & Urban Development, B. Sam Bob, has an interesting take. “Planning and implementation needs a convergence. Most of the time we are not able to implement the plan. We should remember that private lands are involved so the draft MP has to be debated and only under exceptional circumstances should exemptions be given for land use change for a while after notification.”

The DTCP points out that there are two sides to the story. “MPs are supposed to be flexible. It is made making assumptions with regard to the population growth and likely land use patterns. Delay in revising MPs leads to demand for frequent change in land use”, he says.

Even if we accept that it is tough to predict growth beyond a point, Mr. Dhananjaya Reddy calls for preparing sectoral sub-MPs with basic amenities perspective and integrating the same into the MP. “That would prevent us from spending crores of rupees in digging roads as we are doing now,” he exclaims.

Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna at a recent meeting in the capital wanted public transport systems like metros too put into MPs. “People in the West have transformed their cities using the same hands and mind. No reason why we cannot,” was his pithy remark.