Home Dehradun Many suggestions given, objections raised in respect of Master Plan 2041

Many suggestions given, objections raised in respect of Master Plan 2041

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Doon Varsity’s Centre for Public Policy, SDC hosts discussion on Dehradun’s new Master Plan

By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 27 Apr: A public debate on the Draft Master Plan 2041 for Dehradun was hosted today at the Senate Hall at Doon University by the University’s Centre for Public Policy, SDC Foundation and INTACH. The debate was coordinated by Chairman of SDC Foundation Anoop Nautiyal while Prof Avinash Chandra Joshi, NTPC Chair Professor played the host. Other panellists in the debate were retired IAS officer and former Director of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) Dr Sanjeev Chopra, the first Chief Town Planner of Uttarakhand, SC Ghildiyal, the present chief town planner Shashi Mohan Srivastava, convenor of INTACH Lokesh Ohri and architect Bharti Jain. Vice Chairman of MDDA Banshidhar Tiwari could not make it though he was to represent the MDDA in the debate.
Beginning the discussion, coordinator Anoop Nautiyal, informed the gathering that the draft Master Plan was a three hundred pages documents and pointed out certain anomalies detected by him and pointed out to him by others in previous discussions in the draft master plan. The points raised by him included that the draft Master Plan envisages the total residential area in the map to be around 63 percent whereas the ideal value should have been around 36 percent. He further pointed out that the draft master plan itself admits that Dehradun has several serious problems like insufficient public transport system and unplanned development. Lack of greenery was also pointed out.
Retired chief town planner of UP and Uttarakhand, SC Ghildiyal questioned the very process adopted during the preparation of the draft Master Plan. He claimed that the previous master plans and  the new draft master plan have been prepared without legal sanctity as the plans have been prepared not under any existing provision of law. Provisions under Sections 10, 11 and 12 of UP Urban Development Act have not been strictly followed. He also pointed out that fault-lines in Dehradun with respect of seismic activities have not been clearly demarked which leaves the construction in those areas vulnerable to disaster. He also pointed out that MDDA had in the past acquired huge land at Haridwar Bypass but the government had returned the land and in the past too over 440 hectares of land had been acquired and returned thereby limiting the scope for good planning. SC Ghildial claimed that the draft master plan is not favourable to Doon. People also raised questions that when the draft was prepared, the suggestions of the common people were not taken, whereas it has been clearly stated in the draft.
It was also claimed by the people and the panellists too that due process of public engagement had not been carried out before drafting the Master Plan, even when in the draft master plan, does mention a five stage process adopted to prepare the plan whereby the third stage requires intensive engagement with public and stakeholders. However, Chief Town Planner SM Srivastava claimed due process of public engagement had been undertaken in the year 2018. To this, the residents present on the occasion demanded that MDDA and the Town Planning Department make public the minutes of this engagement on their website and Facebook pages. Several other questions were also asked by the residents and some very serious objections raised.
In response to the use of over 60 percent mentioned in the plan, Chief Town Planner SM Srivastava claimed that seeing the present situation, around 60 percent of the land is already under utilisation and the new draft plan just adds another two to three percent area under the plan which is bare minimum. He also informed that the Master Plan had not been prepared by the Town Planning Department but by the third party experts from Ahmedabad, and has been prepared as part of the Amrit Scheme of the Central Government under which master plan of 500 cities across the country has been prepared. For the first time GIS based master plan has been prepared and the GIS data has been superimposed upon the existing survey data that was collected during the survey. People strongly objected to the master plan being prepared on a uniform model for the whole country when every town or city has different ground realities and requirement. Dehradun is surrounded by forests and rivers and lot of green areas form part of the Doon landscape, which need to be maintained. The residents also objected to just 1 percent green cover envisaged in the master plan whereas ideally the green cover should be over 15 percent.
Srivastava stressed that it was necessary to add provisions for High Rise buildings in the plan and also the provision for affordable housing and they have been incorporated. To this, people objected to the idea of constructing high rise buildings in a fragile ecology city like Dehradun which was also falling in seismic zone. SM Srivastava tried to answer people’s questions, but people were not satisfied with his answers.
Sanjeev Chopra reminded the gathering that when he was Secretary Industries in Uttarakhand, new industrial polices had been drafted for Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Uttarakhand could come up with the best and most practical policy as he and the government had engaged in massive interaction with the stakeholders. He felt that there is a need for such a massive engagement with the stakeholders and residents of the city before the plan is finalised. He also agreed with others that the time for public feedback and suggestions be extended by another 3 months and during this period, a Hindi translation of the master plan be also made available so that the people could have better understanding of the draft and can make useful suggestions.
During the discussion, people asked that when there is no land left in the city, then where will the buildings which have been proposed to be built four times as compared to today’s in the master plan, be built. According to the master plan, there is a proposal to construct 4.37 lakh new buildings in Doon by 2041, while at present the number of buildings in the city is said to be 1.25 lakh. They asked where was the land available to meet this requirement and how the water will  be supplied to this much population and how the traffic will be maintained. Residents also pointed out that in case of many roads, the proposed width of roads was not mentioned. They added that the work of widening the road has already been put on the backburner by relaxing the norms.
INTACH convenor Lokesh Ohri raised the issue of heritage sites in Doon. He said that not a single heritage has been identified in the master plan. Nor is there any mention of how to preserve them though Dehradun is having approximately around 500 buildings which can be categorised as heritage structures.
Architect Bharti Jain advised to extend the last date for giving suggestions by three months. Also raised the question that the master plan has been made on the basis of the population of 2011, whereas now the population is very high.
NTPC Chair Professor AC Joshi also pointed out the shortcomings of the master plan. He talked about decongestion of the city and talked about making satellite towns so that traffic overload could be controlled. Joshi informed that the suggestions received during today’s program will be compiled and sent to MDDA. The discussion was later summed up by Sanjeev Chopra who also felt that though many people want the old form of Dehradun to return, that is not viable but care can still be taken to prevent further deterioration of the city and to plan decongestion of the city by constructing satellite towns. He also added that this debate was just a beginning and more such interactions can be hosted in this respect.