Poor planning spawns plethora of urban woes

Poor planning spawns plethora of urban woes

Urban planning has never been a serious business in our country.

Urban planning has never been a serious business in our country. Concretization has always been considered as the best form of urban planning. A wholesome approach in terms of preparedness to combat emerging challenges and visualizing the future tasks has been amiss. Municipal bodies and corporations are seen as custodians of urban development. Ruthless and haphazard construction in urban areas has become a national norm. Building maps are cleared with alacrity and high rises come up overnight.

It is equally chaotic in hilly areas. In place of wooden homes, concrete residential structures were allowed. Builders are now a new community which works with impunity. Many of them disappear with buyers’ money while some of them play havoc with their dreams and hard-earned money.

The governments act against them. The ED raids their premises. Some of them are even arrested but in vain. Now, we have the Real Estate Regularization Act, a kind of silver lining. Urbanisation in India has become a liability, a bane! Hasn’t it?

Proper urbanisation is paramount for various social, economic, and environmental reasons. Well-planned urbanisation helps optimize resource utilization by concentrating infrastructure, services, and amenities in a relatively small area. This reduces the per capita consumption of resources like land, energy, water, and materials, promoting sustainability. Properly planned urban development fosters economic growth by providing better access to markets, jobs, educational institutions, and business opportunities. When urbanisation is managed effectively, it leads to improved living conditions for residents. Adequate housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and recreational facilities enhance the overall quality of life in cities.

However, urbanisation necessitates the development of robust infrastructure including transportation networks, utilities, and communication systems. Proper planning ensures efficient infrastructure deployment, reducing congestion and enhancing connectivity. Urban areas are melting pots of diverse cultures and perspectives. Well-designed cities facilitate cultural exchange, leading to greater social cohesion and understanding among different communities. Proper urban planning helps protect natural ecosystems by promoting compact development and discouraging urban sprawl. This can preserve green spaces, reduce pollution, and mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Since cities are vulnerable to various challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, and public health crises, enhanced resilience like designing buildings and infrastructure that withstand shocks and have efficient emergency response systems matters a lot. It creates environments that encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the development of new solutions to complex problems. Effective urbanisation involves participatory planning, where citizens have a say in shaping their cities. This leads to more transparent governance and inclusive decision-making processes. While cities can sometimes exacerbate inequality, proper urbanisation strategies can help address this issue. By providing affordable housing, equitable access to services, and social safety nets, cities can contribute to reducing disparities.

As urbanisation will continue to shape the world’s future, we have to ensure that cities are sustainable and adaptable to evolving needs, minimizing negative impacts on the environment and society. In essence, proper urbanisation also involves careful consideration of social, economic and environmental dimensions of city development. By focusing on the well-being of residents, resource efficiency, and long-term sustainability, cities can become thriving centres of opportunity and progress.

Poor urban planning leads to a cascade of detrimental consequences that impact the well-being of residents and the overall functionality of cities. Unmanaged urbanisation often results in sprawling, and inefficient urban landscapes, leading to traffic congestion, longer commutes, and increased pollution levels, which degrade air quality and harm public health. Inadequate provision of essential services like healthcare, education, and sanitation disproportionately affects marginalised communities, perpetuating social inequalities.

Moreover, lopsided development can encroach on natural habitats, contributing to biodiversity loss and exacerbating the urban heat island effect. Inadequate green spaces, limited recreational areas, and lack of accessible public transportation also diminish residents’ quality of life, fostering social isolation and stress. Ultimately, poor urban planning undermines economic productivity, increases vulnerability to disasters, and poses challenges for sustainability, emphasizing the urgent need for thoughtful and comprehensive urban development strategies.

During the rainy season, we have seen the enormous and perennial problem of waterlogging in almost every city. From Delhi to Bengaluru, Chennai to Kolkata, there are very few cities in India which enjoy freedom from waterlogging and traffic jams. Inadequate sewage and drainage infrastructure and poor mechanism of waste management are a serious challenge that the urban areas are faced with. With more and more people migrating to cities in search of livelihoods, the existing facilities are not only inadequate but also vulnerable to various risks.

Things will get quite challenging if preplanning and pre-emptive measures are not taken. India’s urban population is estimated to stand at 675 million in 2035, the second highest behind China’s one billion, says the United Nations-Habitat’s World Cities Report 2022.

Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Kaushal Kishore, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on March 24, 2022, said that the number of slums has reduced from 51,688 to 33,510 as per 58th and 69th round Survey of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on urban slums in 2002 and 2012 respectively.

Though the data is not updated, making Indian cities slum free by 2047 will be a monstrous task. However, various schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), Beneficiary-led Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) are taking care of multifaceted slum challenge. Since public health and sanitation are state subjects, the primary responsibility of strengthening public health and sanitation in all urban areas, including slums, lies with the respective State and UT governments.

On its part, the Central government supplements their efforts through various programmatic interventions including Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM), and National Health Mission (NHM) aimed at augmenting and improving the sanitation and public health facilities for urban poor in the country including slum areas.

In 2011, 65.5 million (22.5 per cent of the population) lived in slums which are distributed among 2613 towns and cities. The number must have gone up in the last twelve years and will continue to swell so long as we are not able to develop Tier I and Tier II cities and equip rural areas with gainful opportunities to millions among us who migrate to urban landscapes for greener pastures every year.

Show Full Article
Print Article
Next Story
More Stories