The draft master plan for Thiruvananthapuram has been received with a slew of criticism, with the stakeholders calling for a return to the drawing board to re-focus on the issues faced by the capital city.
An increased public interface with officials, including planners and elected representatives, has been sought to discuss the pros and cons of the master plan, which envisages transforming the capital city into one of the most liveable cities, before it is approved by the State.
Experts say there is a lack of application on core issues, such as mushrooming of high-rises and a lack of utilities to cater to the growing demand and public transport that has a bearing on the charter of the city.
The transport network is the nervous system of a city, often indicating its distribution of development. The master plan, which visualises the State capital as “a multifunctional compact city with a vibrant economy,” is relatively strong on what needs to be done for the transport network. But it is weak on how it can be done; nor is there any analysis of the plans to deal with them.
Ring and radial road connectivity, cycle tracks, junction improvements, a multi-modal mobility hub, modern bus terminals, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, pedestrian overpasses, automated parking system and flyovers have been mooted for the city.
At a time when an Expression of Interest (EOI) has been called for setting up a monorail, the master plan has proposed a Light Rail Transit System to encourage public transport. It appears as if the master plan is oblivious to the monorail.
Critics say there are many defects in the master plan, which call for a complete overhaul. A case in point is the lack of vision to cap the high-rises within a six-km radius, as in other cities.
“High-rises will put pressure on roads, water supply, sewerage, electricity… A perspective plan is needed for property development, and the planners should take a tough stand,” says Anil Kumar Pandala, Managing Director, Thiruvananthapuram Road Development Company Ltd. and IL&FS. The city should be decongested and areas demarcated for small-scale industrial units.
What is intriguing is that instead of calling for measures to decongest the city, the plan identifies nine areas where commercial-cum- automated parking can be created.
The immediate need for the city is to link the roads on the periphery with the 42 km of roads developed under the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP).
“Seventy km of roads have been identified for development under CRIP II, and linking them with the developed roads to ease traffic problems. Flyovers are needed in at least six busy junctions,” B.G. Sreedevi, Director, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre, says.
Planning, designing and building infrastructure can take many years, and the decisions taken today will determine how the State capital’s transport system operates in 2031.