Terming Malabar a “virgin land” for the urban designer, Regional Town Planner G. Sasikumar has said that at least 20 per cent of the urban spaces should be conserved as green space to act as the city’s lungs.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Malabar Rising’ organised by The Hindu as part of its Kozhikode edition’s first anniversary celebrations on Saturday.

Mr. Sasikumar, who is the chief architect of the city’s development master plan, said very little consideration was given to the green spaces within urban limits. He said the natural wetlands within the city were slowly disappearing giving way to high rises and lopsided growth.

“Actual development means carving out quality space within urban limits in order for a society to survive,” he said.

Noting that there had been a lapse in planned urban space across the State, he said the process was on to correct the defects. But planning for development, he said, should focus on the aspirations of the people of the region.

“What I mean by quality space is basic environment protection. At least 20 per cent of the urban space should remain green,” Mr. Sasikumar said.

He touched on the “green concept” of building. “Green concept means channelising natural ingredients of the region in building. There is zero investment involved in this concept. But it requires a change in attitude of the people. Look what people are doing in their compounds – they cover the ground with interlocking tiles and block natural growth!”

Referring to the constant traffic snarls seen in the city, he said what we lack is traffic management.”