Adoption of GIS technology in land use planning for development authority
Senior Geophysicist, Environment
Cell, CMDA Government of West Bengal
Email : email@example.com
Town and Country planning act and its effectiveness on land use planning.
To control the use of land and to provide statute to its planning and development in rural as well as in urban areas of West Bengal, Town and Country (Planning & Development) bill was brought in 1978. In the absence of any such legal authority situation had often resulted in disorganised and uncoordinated growth creating serious civil and environmental problem. As a remedy of the situation, it was imperative to prepare comprehensive development plan to control the uses of land and to provide the basic framework for development for new areas. It was also necessary that such development plans should have adequate legislative sanction so that they can be properly enforced and implemented. The above bill of 1978 provides necessary measures in these regards.
However, the bill provides for setting of Planning Authority or Planning cum Development Authority in different Planning areas that may be identified in the different part of the state. Such authorities would require preparing development plan including the framework of future land use and development in the respective areas. In addition, Planning and Development Authorities also called as Development Authority were invested with powers to prepare and execute specific development schemes for the development areas.
Environmental dimension in development of land use planning
The urban environment encompasses all such interactive phenomena as they take place within the spatial confines of urban areas. The rapid process of urban growth, or a faster urbanization in other words, if allowed to take place in an uncontrolled and unregulated manner, would lead to a less than healthy urban environment. In fact, this has been the case in many of the developing countries including India, which have faced a rapid urban growth for a variety of reasons. The lack of healthy urban environment manifests itself in a variety of ways. It should be borne in mind that such environmental deficiencies have been mostly the result of human actions and are a threat to human beings themselves. The spectrum of environmental deficiencies is so wide and so much inter-related that it is very difficult to perceive the multifarious manifestation of the same precisely. However, the common and important environmental deficiencies can be perceived in terms of unplanned settlement, polluted air, polluted water, excessive noise, lack of sanitary facilities, vulnerability to disaster, poverty and disparity, slum settlements, high morbidity and mortality, gender discrimination. Illiteracy and various social tensions and deteriorating value. These environmental disorders are caused by a variety of factors. Leaving aside the ecological attributes of environmental deficiencies, the socio-economic impacts of the latter are no less important as to deserve appropriate attention. As a matter of fact, the productive base of the economy is greatly conditioned by the productivity of workforce. It would be quite evident from the environmental problems and causes thereof, as outlined above, that tackling the same would have to have multi-pronged and multi-departmental initiatives. Obviously, this would call for a comprehensive approach to the environmental issues and devising policies and strategies that need to be orchestrated through the actions of the different departments and agencies. This upholds the importance of urban environmental management in a multi-departmental and multi-tiered institutional perspective.
The unabated deterioration in urban environment and the need for arresting them on priority basis led to creation of a powerful agency such as the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) in 1970 with the mandate to effect implementation of the plans and programmes outlined in the BDP (Basic Development Plan), the basic thrust of which had been on development of such infrastructures and services that had a great deal of environmental improvement implications. Initially, the Government of India and later the World Bank came forward with financial assistance to facilitate the development initiatives by CMDA. Some of the projects that CMDA implemented could be related directly to environmental improvement, while the others indirectly. As for the instances of the former, the projects in areas of water supply and sanitation can be cited, as these directly impact the beneficiaries with improved environment. For the latter type, the transport and area development projects can be given as examples. The major projects in this group attempted to relieve the congestion in the metrocore perceived as one of the environmental adversaries.
It was realised in CMDA that urban infrastructures and services alone were not enough to take care of the developmental needs and a regulatory regime was required to be designed for the purpose of controlling the use and development of land. The Town and Country (Planning & Development) Act, 1979 was introduced and the CMDA was designated as the custodian of the Act for the metropolis of Calcutta. The Act provides for preparation of not only existing land use maps and registers, but also formulation of land use and development control plans (LUDCPs) that seek to provide a healthy living environment within CMA.
After gaining experience in urban planning and development for sometime, it was realised by CMDA that mere physical infrastructure provision of the urban services was not enough to address the environmental deficiencies, particularly amongst the urban poor. The poor sections were found to be having very little or no accessibility to the basic urban services. It was felt that for an effective environmental improvement, the needs of the poor communities in terms of health, nutrition, elementary education, gainful employment, social awareness etc. were equally important and target group oriented programmes for the purpose were sine qua non. Accordingly, a number of supplementary schemes were undertaken by CMDA under its various development programmes Nevertheless, a probe into the plans and programmes implemented so far would reveal that gaps yet exist in terms of attainment of some of the environmental attributes.