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Monitoring of urban fringe areas using Remote Sensing and GIS techniques
Lecturer, Architecture & Planning Deptt.
All human settlements sustain on land and it is the land which constitutes the single most important component of the total environment. Any environmentally compatible urban planning must begin with a comprehensive look on the use of land. So, the planners need detailed information about the extent and spatial distribution of various urban land uses, housing characteristics, population growth patterns, urban sprawl, existing condition of infrastructure, utilities etc. For planning of these utilities in a better way, planner needs the total information in a map and information related to these aspects for perspective planning and management. The need of the hour is to create an information system of urban development to retrieve, integrate and create various planning scenarios for decision making. The Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is appropriate for creating such type of information system at national level and it provides as handle to the planner to evaluate the demographic conditions, growth trends, utilities, services and resources in a multi-disciplinary approach for timely results with less cost. This paper highlights the significance of these techniques in creating information system useful for urban fringe development.
The rapid and random expansion of urban centers along their peripheries is a typical phenomenon of urban landscape in developing countries in general and in India in particular. The emergence of fringe zone with its complex problems of adjustments in between rural and urban ways of life has led to serious land use problems-loss of agricultural land, unauthorized urban sprawl, high land values, speculation in land and related problems and has assumed great topical importance but sadly remained a neglected area in urban research.
2.0 Concept Of Fringe
Many terms synonymous to fringe such as urban fringe, rural urban fringe, sub-urban areas, suburbs, urban periphery and more recently extended metropolitan regions (EMRs) have been used in planning literature. Whatever may be the designations, conceptually, fringe is related to the growth of cities which lies immediately outside the designated urbanizable limits and has strong interaction with present city and bears an urban reflection on the physical, occupational and demographic characteristics. By and large, the residents of the fringe enjoy the urban services and facilities but usually do not pay for them.
3.0 The Present Scenario
The process of urbanization operating in the fringe has given rise to typical land use associations where the contemporary and dynamic land use pattern is developing side by side in the contemporary context, the various land uses, Old villages, new residential extensions, commerce, industry, city service and farming are not nearly sorted out into homogenous areas but are intermingled in a random fashion which gives a distinctive quality to the land use pattern of rural urban fringe. The haphazard development of slums, unauthorized colonies, piecemeal commercial development, intermix of conforming and non-conforming uses of land coupled with inadequate services and facilities have become a common features in the fringe. The dynamic change from rural to urban land use is so fast that the resultant need and complex uses coupled with shortage of land have led to speculation and increase in land values. The ever-growing difference between the demand and supplies of house sites and units coupled with B.D.A's restriction on other forms of supply and very high cost of land in the city have increased the pressure of fringe area tremendously which has given rise to proliferation of unauthorized development of land uses-residential and industries etc.
The fringe areas are generally within the jurisdiction of panchayat which has neither the financial resources nor the technical expertise to plan and manage the rapidly developing fringe. The urban authorities also ignore the problems of fringe as it falls outside their limit. Thus the city and fringe, although, administratively fall in different areas, for the residents of the fringe there is hardly any difference between the two and their movement is unrestricted and they use the municipal services without paying for it. The property and service taxes are relatively higher in the city than in the fringe area and therefore attracts industries which intensifies development. Like municipal areas, panchayats have no town planning rules, sub-division regulations and rules for provision of services suited to the dynamic situation of the fringe and haphazard development takes place. Since land in the city is beyond the reach of middle/low income group people, they look for land outside the city limit.
The speculator who holds the land for quick profit starts selling it by parceling it unauthorisedly without any services. The buyers who are in urgent need for housing build houses on unserviced plot whereas others hold the plot without use in anticipation of infrastructure development. Unplanned development of fringe areas leads to the lack of public facilities- public open spaces, health centers and schools and degradation of environment as the required sanitary and water disposal services are not provided. The agricultural land around the city is eaten away and the agriculturists and workers are forced to change their occupation.
In brief, it may be concluded that in order to offset and contain urban sprawl, green belt has been statutorily provided in the plan which however has presented several difficulties. The extent of the area is so vast that it virtually impossible to prevent non-conforming uses in the green belts. The local panchayats lack the men, material and the will to look after enforcement whereas the local authority has its own priorities within the conurbation to develop housing and services. Thus there is always a variety of pressures by vested interest groups for conversion of land use in the green belts. Industrialists press for large and cheap sites with less controls. Cooperative housing societies, which have purchased land for housing from farmers prior to notification of the green belts press for exemptions. Established industries have pressed for expansion and housing. Speculators have entered into deals with farmers for sale of their lands even after notification of green belt. Failure to prevent unauthorized development in the green belt has created political pressures to regularize them subsequently and change the land use from agricultural to industrial development and finally unawaited extension of conurbation.