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Computerisation of development plans and associate information using GIS

Dr. Smita Sengupta
Geosoft Topographics India Pvt. Ltd.
Khar (W), Mumbai 400 052, India

The urban planning is a complex phenomenon, which require enormous amount of data to support the decision. The local authority requires an information system, which will be able to monitor, surveillance, the planning regulations and will work as early warning system. The application of GIS in the planning and management is very common in the local authorities in developed countries but in developing countries very few local authorities have invested in GIS. It is mainly due to the high cost and lack of support from the higher management level. In this paper an attempt has been made to customise GIS for development monitoring at the local authority level.

In the state of Maharashtra it is obligatory for all local authorities to prepare a Development Plan for the entire area within its jurisdiction. The preparation of this Development Plan goes through various stages and data are obtained from the field survey as stipulated in the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act. But unfortunately all these plans are hand drawn so take lot of time for the modification and retrieval. These maps are extensively referred in the Development Control Regulation. The process of Development Control Regulation also become time consuming due to the manual process adopted in this case. All these Development Plans can be digitised and GIS can be customised for the for the purpose of controlling and monitoring development by gathering and updating data, managing database suitable for GIS application and developing user interface and customised application. This will help different department to use the database, which has been developed for the development monitoring which will make the activities of the local authorities faster and economic.

Introduction The planning is the process of thinking through and implementing a set of appropriate actions to active some goal. In the present day, in developed countries planning has moved from the rigid master-plan style to one where a number of alternatives are put forward for public debate and are analysed against a set of often conflicting goal and objectives. This leads in turn to a more flexible, strategic planning framework with monitoring and feedback enabling changes to be made to the preferred planning programme. On the other hand in the developing countries where urban centres are growing in size and measurable complexity, many countries can not or will not mobilise resources to deal with their problems in time. The local authorities of most major towns in developing countries faces problems as regard to development direction thus creating difficulties for decision making process. Characteristically, the goals pursued in the process of urban development are extremely varied. Decisions, which are taken with regard to the built environment, as well as with regard to health, education and welfare of population, have effects of very long duration. There is a public interest in amenity, environmental preservation, general health and welfare, and the interests of future generations, which is not adequately pursued by private actions, especially as this conflict in their objectives. Plans and planners are often lacking imaginative or unconventional approaches to these problems, and the results seem to embody less knowledge than is available for informing decision-making.

In this juncture it is required to give conceived information system which can serve as the eyes and ears of planning process. It provides for the monitoring and surveillance of compliance with planning regulations and it serves as early warning system with regard to friction and sources of shortfalls in the process of urban planning and management. Information is therefore needed at local authority level to facilitate administrative procedures, policy planning and plan implementation. Also, advent of corporate planning and continued squeeze on local authority expenditure required local authorities to examine critically whether rational decisions are undertaken.

It is clear that development at the local level involve a lot of policies and implementation decisions, which have to consider the cost and benefit to every level of urban dwellers. Given the wide range of activities, over the years, the local authorities have amassed a huge amount of information. A substantial portion of these information is geographical in nature such as layout of housing schemes, road and drainage systems, composition and distribution of population, distribution of land use and so forth. Unfortunately, these data are often inaccessible even to the local administrators. The main reason being the database management system, which is, based on manual filing system which makes retrieval of data difficult and time consuming. To ease this problem, a number of authorities employ computer database system in their organisation. While some of these systems help tremendously in information retrieval and analysis they do not handle data very well. Thus jobs assigned to the system are quite limited to routine retrieval. Given the dynamic nature of planning and management carried out at local level, it is not surprising that local authorities become one of the largest users of GIS in advanced and developed countries. But in developing countries very few local authorities have invested in GIS. The reluctance of local authorities to accept the challenge to embrace the technology is due mainly to lack of support from the management level, the lack of in-house expertise with which to make use of the system and the high cost of GIS. On the other hand, the local authorities particularly of major towns are now faced with increasingly complex urban problems and inevitably urban planners and managers have to come up with better solutions.

In this paper an attempt has been made to understand the procedure of the preparation of the Development Plan by the Local Authorities, their present use and a suggestion for the computerising them for the better use mainly in the Development Control procedures.

Development Plans of Local Authority - Process And Procedure
In the state of Maharashtra under the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966, it is obligatory on every local authority to prepare a Development Plan for the entire area within its jurisdiction within a stipulated time. The main work includes:
  • The preparation of the base map of the town;
  • The preparation of the Existing Landuse map:
  • To carry out civic survey for the town.
After the preparation of Proposed Development Plan the local authority published a notification in the Maharashtra Govt. Gazette (as required under Section 26 of the Act) asking for the suggestion from the public. The Authority modifies the Plan considering the suggestions and objections received from the members of public. This process is time consuming as all the maps are hand drawn and modification of them takes lot of time. The Proposed Development Plan is then submitted to the Government and Government then again issues a Public notification. The Approved Development Plan is prepared only after the changes made as per the modification recommended by the Government .The Development Plan is required to be sanctioned by the Government not later than one year from the date of receipt of such plan from the Planning authority.

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