City Master plan: BDA must get the vision right

BDA which has begun the process of revision of Bengaluru's Master Plan, needs to get a buy-in from all stakeholders on the vision of what Bangalore should be. They have to engage citizens in the process!

The Citizen Action Forum (CAF), a federation of RWAs will be sharing their inputs on Bangalore’s Master Plan 2035 with BDA. On May 7th, BDA had quietly begun a process of revision for Bengaluru’s city master plan, and invited suggestions from public. This plan will be for the years 2016 to 2035.

CAF along with Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) and various individual RWAs will respond at a federation as well as individual level.

Inputs to this process can be at two distinctive levels, at a micro and macro level.
At a micro level, i.e. the rules and regulations governing various zones, BDA needs to appreciate that inputs and problems are already in the public domain. The dissatisfactions of the RMP 2015 have already been stated vis a vis the PIL on the current Masterplan. The court has passed a couple of interim orders regarding green belt and residential areas. These needs to be taken as on record and BDA must act on these. Further there is the detailed PSS Thomas Committee recommendations, compiled out of citizen inputs during preparation of the Masterplan 2015.

These should be looked as a base of citizen requirements and the wheel need not be invented again. More importantly, at a macro level, BDA should for a start, separate the vision statement from the details. They need to get a buy-in from all stakeholders on the vision of what Bangalore should be. This needs a broadbased consultation process with various groups. Once in place and with adequate buy-in from society at large, this becomes the principles on which detailed rules and regulations can be devised. This process should also minimise controversies and legal tangles in the next masterplan.

As important, is that the masterplan is a mandated document which means that all civic bodies like BWSSB, BESCOM and especially BBMP should have ownership of the plan and commit to provide the infrastructure required for making the plan successful.

The Master plan has to be a document in consonance with BMRDA’s structural plan. There are contradictions in the last masterplan. While BMRDA’s plan looked at decongesting Bangalore city with the creation of new satellite towns, BDA’s RMP focused on centralised city planning. As of now the BMRDAs structural plan is not yet in place and has not been discussed in the public domain.

BDA should be also be clear about the concept of mixed land use. It does not mean mixing residential and commercial buildings within every road in a residential area. It implies a neighbourhood planning which incorporates elements of commerce, transportation, amenities and residences in a neighbourhood in separate spaces.

The onus is on BDA to reach out and have a strong on-going citizen engagement programme to create a plan that reflects all citizens’ needs and aspirations.

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