Shun ad hoc approach, replace it with forward-looking process for city planning, says Naidu

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday underlined the need to shun ad hoc approach for city planning and called for replacing it with a long-term and forward-looking process to create liveable cities.

Virtually releasing 'A textbook of Urban Planning and Geography' in Hyderabad, Naidu lamented that many urban poor often get excluded in the cityscape.

'A city cannot be for the few,' he said and called for making inclusivity an integral component of city planning.

The vice president also emphasised on the need for sustainability in every component of city planning from financing of civic amenities, encouraging green buildings, recycling waste, harvesting rainwater and promoting public transport.

Stressing on the need to ensure access to facilities such as transport, housing, and civic amenities like water, gas and waste management, Naidu opined that civic bodies must adopt self-financing models that make operation of public utilities viable.

'Only when citizens pay for the resources they use, even if it is a nominal fee, brings a sense of responsibility and ownership in the users. This is a proven best practice, in India and elsewhere,' he said.

Expressing concern over the perennial phenomenon of urban flooding in many cities due to concrete structures, the vice president underlined the need to live in harmony with nature.

'Lakes that serve as natural buffers must be reclaimed in order to avoid annual flooding,' he said.

To reduce vehicular pollution, Naidu pitched for incentivisation of public transport along with other green initiatives such as car-pooling, and use of CNG and electric vehicles.

He urged people to change the behaviour in the way they use road space. 'There should be a people's movement to promote cycling, which is not only a healthy option but also reduces pollution,' Naidu said.

Emphasising on the need to accommodate and protect the interests of the homeless and poor in the city, the vice president said a migrant coming from a rural area must not live in substandard conditions and the domestic help living on the city's periphery must not struggle for managing transport for work.

Naidu suggested that planners should not only focus on making cities liveable urban centres, but also work for raising the happiness quotient of the people. He felt that urban planning must be done keeping in mind local aesthetics and traditions.

'In our blind imitation of the West, we have made all our cities look alike -- uniform, anonymous and without any reference to its history,' he said.

Cautioning that a city that doesn't recognise its past cannot have a future, Naidu called for the preservation of heritage and traditions in historic cities.

Recalling India's great legacy in urban planning, the vice president cited the examples of cities, including Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, Indraprastha, Madurai and Kanchipuram, which were known for their advanced city planning.

Listing some of the challenges such as limited resources of land, water, migration from rural areas and pressure on city's infrastructure, the vice president said, 'How we go about managing these factors will determine the fate of a city.' PTI NAB NSD