Why right processes matter in city planning

In well-planned cities, the government makes the plans and the builders respond to that with project proposals – to build residential communities, commercial facilities, and so on. In our cities, the builders and individual plot owners make their proposals first, and the city then scrambles to figure out how to plan the city around that.

The order in which we do things is itself wrong. Within this error, looking for solutions to ‘manage’ the way things are done is pointless. Which is why making the planning body for the city work – as per law – is important.

People sometimes ask, as in the case of proposal to build the steel flyover – it’s a steal flyover, actually – why some of us are insisting on the right planning processes to decide these things. Will not another set of ruinous people make sure that process is also compromised, they ask. After all, there are so many bodies that are not working well, despite appearing to follow due processes.

Yes and no. Certainly, it is possible for ruling parties to compromise any process, even a constitutional one. At the same time, the only practical way forward is through the right processes. Following them gives us hope that things can be done right, with increasing pressure from the public.

That’s how we got a planning body in place in the first place. State governments have never wanted any planning bodies for the city. Instead, they have preferred to make ad hoc announcements about projects. By insisting this should not be done, a number of people fought and made sure the government set up a statutory planning body. Now comes the next step – of ensuring that plans for the city emerge from this body, with due deliberation

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About Ashwin Mahesh 96 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.