Meet stresses participatory development of urban areas

Staff Reporter

Mayor points to fault-lines in the system hampering implementation of schemes

Designers, academics present papers at meet

‘People’s participation primary requirement

for good governance’

Kochi: Does your cityscape generate in you a sense of belonging? Who should decide how it should be? Shouldn’t there be a bottom-up approach while designing urban development? These were some of the significant topics pondered over at the conference on ‘Participatory urban development’ organised by the Institute of Urban Designers-India (IUDI) at its first South Zone meet here on Saturday.

Mayor Mercy Williams, who inaugurated the conference, focused on the fault-lines in the system such as power-conflicts involved in urban planning; hitches in implementation of well-deliberated plans; general indifference of the civic community; and the mismatch between what is desirable and what is on offer vis-À-vis public transport available.

Prof. K.T. Ravindran, IUDI president and chairman of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC), presided over the function.

“The frantic pace at which our city life moves should go. It should slow down without losing efficiency so that people feel relaxed and content,” he told The Hindu explaining the idea of sense of place in an urban environment.

The conference, which glanced at participatory development of cityscape from different perspectives, witnessed presentation of papers by a range of personalities from designers and administrators to academics.

Prof. P.V.K. Rameshwar, chairman of Graduate School and Head of Urban Design Department at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, dismissed the notion of planners being superior individuals with exceptional skills to value-judge city life.

Referring to the 74th amendment to the Constitution, he said design intervention should happen at the ward level using participatory mechanisms to resolve conflicts and test possibilities.

Demystifying a few concepts on urban planning, S.P. Shorey, director of Urban Management Resource Group at the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad, said it was wrong to assume that local bodies did not have a say in urban planning. Despite hitches in the system, a committed bureaucracy, devoted NGOs, an activist judiciary, a vigilant and alert press and concerned and aware citizens could bring about a positive change.

Terming Mumbai and Ahmedabad as two Indian cities with civic awareness, he said people’s participation was the primary requirement for good governance.