The much-awaited draft of the Revised Master Plan-2031 published by the Bangalore Development Authority on Saturday, projects that by 2031, the city will have 20.3 million residents — beyond the current population in metros such as Mumbai and Delhi.
These estimates will see the city’s population grow by 124.4 % from the 2011 census figure of 90.45 lakh in just two decades between 2011 and 2031.
Though the BDA opted for the middle path in its projections — eschewing both unbridled expansion as well as containment scenarios — Bengaluru’s population is expected to grow at a faster rate than it did between 2001 and 2011.
The draft RMP-2031 opens up 80 sq. km area for urbanisation in the city, to accommodate the growing population. The report paints a frightening picture of Bengaluru’s future as it grapples with water and electricity shortages as well as waste management and traffic problems.
The demography of the population, too, will change with more senior citizens and fewer youth.
Will extra 80 sq. km accommodate growing population?
While the city’s population is expected to more than double from 90.45 lakh in 2011 to 20.3 million in 2031, the draft Revised Master Plan-2031 opens up only an additional 80 sq. km for urbanisation, to accommodate this population.
In the RMP-2015, however, the Bangalore Development Authority had opened up a massive 277 sq. km of agricultural areas for urbanisation translating to around 68,482 acres.
However, even as the conurbation area (urban sprawl) has increased by 80 sq. km, the agriculture area, essentially the green zone, has also shot up from the existing 300 sq. km to 322.6 sq. km. The draft Revised Master Plan-2031 offers no explanation for this or for its projection that forest area will decrease from 27.53 sq. km to 5.7 sq. km.
For the first time, it has earmarked 88.48 sq. km area, mostly in the core city, as buffer zones around lakes and streams as per the National Green Tribunal order of May 2016.
Special development zones along five roads
Urban sprawl has been expanded along five major developing corridors — Hosur Road, Mysuru Road, Ballari Road, Old Madras Road, and Sarjapur Road — near the city’s borders.
These areas have been designated Special Development Zones (SDZ), where the floor-area ratio will be 2.5 and provide for high density compact development, including integrated townships. The zoning regulations in residential areas, which had been a big bone of contention leading to a long legal battle and amendments to the previous plan, seems to be a mixed bag for residential localities.
Commercial establishments are allowed only on roads wider than 12.5 m (41 feet).
This is an important victory for residents fighting to protect their neighbourhoods from commercialisation.
That said, the zoning regulations allow for small scale industries on roads of width 9.5 m-12.5 m, which essentially opens up most residential roads for small scale industries.
Three new ring roads
To address traffic problems, which will only get worse, the draft bats for mass transit systems with options such as Monorail, Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit System on multiple arterial roads, and metro rings on Outer Ring Road (ORR) and Peripheral Ring Road (PRR).
However, the draft also bats for building new road infrastructure for private vehicles, mainly three new ring roads, including the long-pending Peripheral Ring Road and eight new arterial roads, most of them beyond the Outer Ring Road. The draft makes no proposals for any new flyovers or elevated expressways.
Fate of plan still hangs in balance
The fate of the draft of Revised Master Plan-2031 is still to decided as the High Court has directed the State government not to approve it without seeking its permission.
The High Court issued the direction on October 17 while hearing a petition by Namma Bengaluru Foundation and Citizen Action Forum, who have questioned the constitution of Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC) tasked with planning the city’s future. The petition filed in 2014 also questions whether the BDA is the right body to work on RMP-2031 and argues that BMPC should be tasked with this.
Vijayan Menon, one of the petitioners, said that though BDA has published the draft, they will fight it tooth and nail and if need be, move the Supreme Court as well to get clarity on who has to plan for the city and how 74th amendment to the Constitution has to be implemented.
BDA has been arguing that it is the secretariat of BMPC and hence, has carried out the planning process on its behalf. It will submit the plan before the committee for approval.