Bengaluru Development Authority’s plan for 2031 will impact the land use policy and allow illegal constructions to crop up.

Experts tear into Bengalurus Revised Master Plan 2031 say it is filled with major errors
news Civic Issues Saturday, December 09, 2017 - 18:30

Urban planners scrutinising the draft of the Bengaluru Development Authority’s Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2031, have slammed it, saying it is riddled with loopholes and technical errors.

“The biggest flaw in the master plan is that it has not evaluated the previous master plan. The planners did not consider the portions of RMP 2015 which were not implemented and the reasons behind it, and the organisational structures required to implement the plan. What is the institutional and legal framework to implement this plan? That has not been mentioned,’’ said Vijayan Menon, an urban planning expert and a member of Citizens Action Forum.

Menon added that the numerous errors in the draft of RMP 2031, which was released after a long delay, would impact the land use policy of the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) and that the faulty projections regarding population would provide a backdoor for illegal constructions to crop up in the city.

Corroborating Menon’s claim, Nitin Sheshadri, president of Koramangala 3rd Block Resident Welfare Association, said that there were major errors in the proposed land-use maps.

“When we compare the existing land-use maps with the projected land-use maps, many roads do not exist; several parks and playgrounds have disappeared. There is no explanation as to why the projected maps have wiped away these essential elements. If this master plan gets approved, kaluves, roads, parks and civic spaces will get gobbled up. Citizens must give their suggestions and file applications about the errors, so that it is on record. Otherwise, there will be no legal standing for us to prove that these kaluves or roads actually exist,” Sheshadri added.

He maintained that the population assumption, based on which the RMP 2031 was formulated, is faulty. He said that calculations have shown that there is a decreasing trend in the population growth when compared with the growth rates of previous years.

“Currently there are about 1 crore people living in Bengaluru. This draft plan states that by 2031 there will be over 2 crore people. This means that the population will double. But when you look at the current growth rate, it is only 3.5 per cent, so the estimate made in the plan is way over the mark. The RMP is trying to create space when there is no vacant space available. They have assumed that the land space available is the build space. What about common spaces like playgrounds? They will vanish.”

Where is the space?

The projected land use has increased it to make room for the growing population by 80 sq km and, at the same time, there is no reduction in agricultural area.

“The agriculture area has increased by over 22 sq km? This is where the shocking facts emerge. When you analyse the plan, it becomes evident that what the government considers as dead lakes are being given away to landless farmers for agriculture,” said Ramprasad, convenor and member of a citizens’ group – Friends Of Lakes.

The Karnataka High Court recently allowed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to sell dead lake land to landless farmers.

“The question is how can the government determine what is a dead lake? Bengaluru is made up of man-made lakes; a lake cannot be labelled dead. It deteriorates because of pollution, sewage and the diversions of storm water drains. With this high court ruling, the BBMP can now sell the land for purposes that will in no way help the city,” added Ramprasad.

Shockingly, the projected land-use maps show that the forest cover is only 5.7 sq km. This, Ramprasad declared, has decreased drastically. “How can the BDA remove the forest tag from areas which come under the Forest Department? It has no jurisdiction. The government must first denotify this forest land and only later can the forest tag be removed. The BDA has haphazardly projected figures which do not add up. There is no explanation as to how the BDA came up with these figures. The RMP is a misrepresentation.”

Does the BDA have the authority to formulate the master plan?

Urban planning experts are of the opinion that the Metropolitan Planning Committee is the body which must formulate the master plan according to the 74th Constitutional Amendment.

“The BDA is a governmental body. The Metropolitan Planning Committee, or the MPC, is the one which must frame the master plan. Legally, even if the BDA frames the RMP, other civic agencies are not legally bound to follow it,” said Menon.

Refuting his claim, however, a member of the team which drafted the draft plan said that most people were of the misconception that the MPC is the only body which can formulate the RMP.

“According to the 74th Amendment, the MPC should develop the draft development plan and not the master plan. The draft development plan is one which chalks out details about how to implement the master plan on a five-year and yearly basis,” he added.

What is the solution?

Urban planning experts say that active citizen participation in offering feedback to the RMP 2031 is the first step to ensure that the city does not plunge down the road to haphazard development.

“Even citizen of the city is a stakeholder and they should be consulted for any plan that will affect their neighbourhood. The consultants who drafted the RMP 2031 for BDA were given a specific matrix to work on and have not consulted any citizens for it,” said Sajan Poovayya, a Supreme Court lawyer.

Poovayya maintained that every citizen application regarding discrepancies will be on record and that it will, in turn, ensure that common spaces like lakes, rajakaluves, parks and playgrounds do not disappear.

“The whole point of local self-governance was lost when the RMP 2031 was drafted. Citizens are stakeholders. Leaders from Bengaluru, like local MLAs and corporators, are stakeholders. None of these people were consulted while framing the plan. Once citizens get involved, it will ensure accountability,” he said.

 

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