Thiruvananthapuram Corporation’s master plan to be a balancing act

More than five years ago, in February 2014, the city Corporation was forced to withdraw a draft master plan that it had prepared to address city planning for the next two decades, following widespread complaints from the public. Protests erupted in areas like Kattayikkonam and Attipra, after people found their requests for building permits getting rejected, as some of these areas were marked as strategic zones in the master plan.

Since then, the city has had only an interim development order, to govern land use and other key concerns. Real estate giants had a field day, owing to the lack of a master plan, as they got favourable court orders for constructing flats even in areas that were earlier marked as green strips. The courts went by the logic of an existing ruling that the owner of a land cannot be deprived of his right to enjoy his property freely on the ground that it is included in a Town Planning scheme which was never implemented.

Over the years, the deadline for publishing the revised master plan has been shifting from December 2017 to the latest date of March 2020. However, going by the pace of things at the city Corporation, it will be a struggle to even meet this deadline, or even complete it before the tenure of the current council, as the local body elections are scheduled to be held next year.

The proposed sector-level meetings for the preparation of the plan has already been postponed several times, owing to elections and by-elections. As per the plan, a special council meeting has to be convened to discuss the suggestions collected from the ward-level meetings, from the public through the website and the mobile application and from the various ground-level surveys. Following this, the eighteen different working groups, divided based on various sectors like health, agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure, will work on the plan.

According to a Corporation official, the entire process from the meeting of the working groups, stakeholder consultations, presentation of the draft plan in the council, sending the plan, and the objections from the councillors to the Government, presentation of the revised plan again in the council and sending to the District Planning Committee for notification will take at least six months.

Aspiration survey

Learning a lesson from the backlash that received for the previous master plan, the city Corporation and the town planning department, which prepares the plan, has been cautious this time around, ensuring that the public is taken along at every phase of the preparation. The whole process began with a people’s aspiration survey. Door-to-door surveys were held in 10% of the households, garnering responses on the aspirations and issues with the proposed plan, from the ward residents. The master plan comes under the Central Government’s Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which has set different norms on the survey to assess land use patterns.

Socio-economic survey was conducted at 25,000 selected houses. The civic body also had a long wait of 1.5 years for the satellite images of the city from the National Remote Sensing Centre.

Town Planning Department officials, who have begun preparing the sector-wise documents based on the surveys and suggestions from the wards, say that they are working on striking a balance between environmental concerns and concerns raised by the public regarding use of their own land.

“Generally, anyone owning a land would want to make use of the same for any purpose that they want to. A conservationist might look at it from another angle. In preparing a plan, we cannot ignore environmental concerns. We have seen how some flats which are being constructed near green strips are getting flooded,” says a town planning official.

Detailed maps

The civic body had also proposed the inclusion of detailed maps with survey numbers in the new master plan to provide clarity to the public regarding the status of the land that they are going to buy or for which they are planning to apply for a building permit. With accurate survey numbers on the mark, there will be a clear idea of the land use patterns of a particular plot. Sometimes, officials too are in the wrong, when they reject certain applications, because the boundaries of the green and other prohibited zones are not clearly defined.

Compared to the previous master plan, the new one will provide a much more detailed database. While the earlier plan had just the land use pattern in a particular area, the new one will have the details of each building, the type of use, and even the number of floors. Instead of the general width of roads, there will now be details of the type of road, carriageway, right of way, footpath and even the location of street lights. The new plan is being prepared based on satellite images, instead of the cadastral maps used last time around.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 8:58:43 PM |

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