How (Not) to Kill a City

All urban planning and town development must be kept in mind and not violate the basic tenets of each city as it exists.

new delhi, chandigarh, tri city, infrastructure, real estate, Zirakpur, Panchkula
A minimum of ten kilometres green belt should be mandatory between every Satellite Town and the concerned City. (Image/IE)

By Brig Pradeep Sharma (Retd)

The collusion between builders, administration and politicians has been rampant and known for decades. Land remains constant while population and therefore demand increases each year.

The basic structure of cities has been put under stress and in most cases the popularity due to design and ease of living exploited to destroy the very design, plan and ease of living which were the USP of the City to begin with.

Citizens’ Nightmare

New Delhi became NCR and Chandigarh became Tri City. While New Delhi has seen an exodus of people into Chandigarh, the Tri City too is on its way to destroy the very essence of the environment which made it attractive.

Today New Delhi is a nightmare to live in, traffic jams, smog, pollution, absence of road space created by a lack of vision compounded by greed. The fact that the states surrounding the National Capital ignored the Cultural and Historical background of Delhi by crowding into it cannot be pardoned. The Delhi Government too on its part must share responsibility.

The capacity that a City is created to sustain, its historic background, ethos and culture needs to remain the center of all future growth, development and sustainability.

President Kalam’s so far ignored vision suggests that the country needs to focus on developing villages and rural areas. Instead, satellite towns have grown exponentially. In the NCR it is Punjabi Bagh, Noida, Gurugram, and Faridabad amongst others and Tri City has SAS Nagar, New Chandigarh, Area behind the Lake, Saketeri, Pinjore, Panchkula, Zirakpur, Landra. In both cases the centre of attraction has been the proximity to either Delhi or Chandigarh and not the Facilities being provided at the satellite towns.

What could be included to make satellite towns attractive and self-sufficient?

  • Ensure basics like schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, entertainment, sports and employment
  • Road layout which is inclusive of cycle tracks, bus lanes, metro rail, two/ three wheeler and passenger cars
  • Water management
  • Lower Power, Water, Solar Energy, Property Tax rates 
  • Public transport system within and linking to Metro Cities like a spider’s web
  • Systems for recycling city waste and disposal
  • All industries with built in accommodation for workers
  • All Flats with built-in accommodation for Domestic Help and playschool for workers’ children
  • Proper sewerage, waste management and disposal or re-use

Preserving the Sanctity of existing Cities

All urban planning and town development must be kept in mind and not violate the basic tenets of each city as it exists.

New norms should only be permitted in the satellite townships

A minimum of ten kilometres green belt should be mandatory between every Satellite Town and the concerned City.

Where multiple State Governments share one city as in the case of Chandigarh, each of them need to be concerned about preserving the environment of the city.

Further where possible the Administrative Offices must rest in the nearest satellite town, in the case of Chandigarh, it should be in Panchkula and SAS NAGAR for the simple reason that this would prevent disruption of lives of

residents who are fed up with ‘Dharnas’ and ‘road closures’ due to protesters.

In the present day, entry from Mohali( SAS Nagar), Zirakpur and Panchkula is closed frequently to prevent such hordes of demonstrators from entering the City. They often want to march to the CMs residence or office. 

In a nutshell, each state must be held responsible for the wellbeing of the residents living in the Tri City failing which the residents may be left with no option other than move courts requesting for intervention as in the recent case of Apartments/ Builders Flats and Stilt plus four which have ruined the City  adding to the woes of residents and law enforcement organisations leading to a situation akin to NCR.

Disclaimer: The author is an Indian Army Veteran, 3 JAT. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

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First published on: 26-02-2023 at 12:25 IST
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