Pune’s Urban Planning Vision- A Myth

The Pune Metropolitan Region (PMR) is one of the fastest growing urban areas in one of the largest Indian State – Maharashtra. In December 2015, as per a notification by the Maharashtra Government, the area under the jurisdiction of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) was extended to 6,616.79 square kilometres from the existing 3,300.98 sq km. PMR is now 30 percent larger than the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and one of the largest urban agglomeration in the State[1]

In recent times there has been an urgency among policy makers to plan the rapid growth of urban areas inorder to optimize on the economic advantages from urbanization. But it is seen as in the case of Pune, that the process of planning is incoherent with the speed at which Pune is growing. The urban challenges are growing pains for the city which still awaits a development plan!

Development Plan for Pune

Development Plan (DP) of Pune is a vision document that offers ‘scientific and rational’ solutions to the growing needs of the city. The first DP for Pune was prepared in 1958-60 under an enactment then known as Bombay Town Planning Act of 1954[1]. It was published in 1966 but was not implemented to its entirety as the 1961 Panshet Floods had already changed the development needs of Pune city rendering the DP inadequate. New areas for resettlement and rehabilitation were identified and their development was the need of the hour.

The legal procedure for planning called for a revision in DP in the year 1976, and the process was started. A fresh survey of land and its uses was undertaken and a base map was created on the basis of which the DP was revised. The revised DP was published in 1987.

Under the Section 38 of the new MRTP Act of 1966 the DP was further due for revision for the second time in 2007. The Notice of Declaration was issued. The Act states that soon after the Notice of Declaration, the draft DP should be prepared in not later than two years. However, the revised DP was finally published in March 2013. It stirred much debate and controversy and attracted over 87,000 suggestions and objections that were heard within stipulated time with further extension of six months.

Recently the State Government took over the planning process stating as its reason the failure of PMC to adhere to the stipulated timelines for finalising DP. A three member committee was formed and yet another revision to Draft DP was made. The final development plan for Pune city is now awaiting an approval by the State Government.

The Draft DP is important as the heritage conservation plan is ancillary to the DP. The comprehensive mobility plan that sets a vision for the urban transport infrastructure development will be notified once the DP is notified.

Comprehensive Mobility Plan for Pune

The National Urban Transport Policy[3] (NUTP) provides for creation of a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) as a vision document for the growth of urban transport in the city. Within the scope of this document it integrates the two otherwise independent processes of urban spatial planning and transport planning. Ideally, CMP should be notified under the MRTP Act of 1966. It should be reviewed every five years and should be incorporated in the Regional or Development Plan.

The CMP for Pune was prepared in November 2008 with the objective to create a mobility plan (mobility being that of people and not vehicles) that would provide vision and implementation strategies which will improve the urban transport situation in Pune Metropolitan Region. The Plan is not yet notified under MRTP Act of 1966, neither is it included in the Regional Plan for PMR or Daft DP for Pune city. In fact the Draft DP for Pune proposes traffic plans that are not based on any travel demand analysis nor are they aligned to the CMP[4].

The background of CMP is that several transport and urban infrastructure projects including road widening, flyovers and bridges etc. were already undertaken by PMC at the time of preparation of CMP. These projects were isolated activities with their own set of objectives that did not converge into a larger mobility plan. Thus there was no consolidated vision of the urban transport in PMR for the future.

Significant quantum of transport based studies including the RITES study and DMRC Metro Proposal was already conducted before preparation of CMP. The CMP then sought to integrate these studies into a comprehensive vision such that their findings can optimally contribute into implementation strategies for transport. It also suggested modifications to various projects (CMP, 2008).

CMP is important in that it evolved a land-use travel demand model which linked the urban transportation needs with the existing and proposed land-use patterns. It is a vision document and not a study as is understood by many in the political establishments. CMP is relevant to the discussion on Pune Metro project  as the Metro is a stand-alone proposal by the PMC.

Formation of Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority

In 1976 at the time of revision to the DP it was proposed that a Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority be formed for proper execution of a Regional Plan (RP) for Pune Metropolitan Region. A Pune Metropolitan Regional Planning Board had created RP for Pune District that was duly sanctioned by the State as per a notification in 1976. However, no apex planning authority for the district was formed. The District Collector was the officer-in-charge of execution of the RP who reported to the Director Town Planning and Valuation, Maharashtra.

In 1997 as per the directions of the State in accordance with the MRTP Act 1966, a Regional Planning Board was re-constituted to revise and modify the existing RP. In 1999 a resolution for the formation of PMRDA was passed. After four decades since the first proposal it was only in March 2015 that PMRDA was actually formed “to push projects on fast track”.[2] Two years prior to this, a notification by State sanctioned the proposed Regional Plan for Pune along with Development Control Regulations (DCR) incorporating Standardized Building Bye-laws applicable to even the new rural areas incorporated in PMR jurisdiction.

The main objective of PMRDA as per the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) Act 1974 is to secure development of Pune Metropolitan Region through implementation of Regional Plans. Among its many functions are-

  • Review development projects or schemes for PMR
  • Physical, financial and economic planning for development projects
  • Timely revision of regional plans or modifications to the existing plan
  • Grant permission for development or re-development in PMR
  • Direct local authorities including PMC with regards to implementation of Development projects and schemes.

The DCR for RP provides for special heritage regulations, establishment of Heritage Committee and listing of Heritage sites as per the directions of MRTP Act 1966. The Development Plan of Pune is expected to be in accordance with the final Regional Plan for PMR.

[1] The Bombay Town Planning Act of 1954 first introduced the concept of Development Plan as an instrument of planning that retained the Town Planning Scheme. It had replaced the 1915 Act. Later with the re-defining of Indian States Maharashtra was formed in 1961 subsequently the MRTP, 1966 was introduced.

[2] Parthasarathi Biswas, ‘PMRDA formed to push for projects on fast track’, March  29, 2015, The Indian Express, Pune Edition.

[3] The National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) 2014 suggests that responsibility of providing urban transportation services and infrastructure lie with the cities as it has a direct impact on the development planning of the cities. This is in accordance with the provisions of 74th Constitutional Amendment Act but it is observed that in reality the process of decentralising powers from the State to the urban local bodies has remained slow.



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