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GMDA draft plan for GMR draws flak

By Ajit Patowary
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GUWAHATI, Nov 10 - Noted architect and town planner Amiya Kumar Das has described the draft delineation plan of the Guwahati Metropolitan Region (GMR), recently notified by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), as a political decision. It is against the concepts of regional planning science, he said.

The GMR plan is prepared by the Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University and it has proposed the inclusion of 1,061 villages and 30 urban centres in five districts of the State, comprising a new area of around 3,143 sq km, giving the GMR a total area of around 3,471 sq km.

GMDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anurag Singh told this newspaper on Sunday that the GMR plan has been prepared in line with the Delhi National Capital Region to equally distribute the benefits of development to the suburban areas surrounding the Guwahati city.

Amiya Kumar Das, who worked with the Florida State Government�s Urban Planning Office for over 30 years as a town planner and now a resident of that American city, told this newspaper that the imprudent expansion of the Delhi Metropolitan area has led to numerous problems for the national capital in the areas of transportation, infrastructure, water supply, drainage and sewerage, garbage disposal, academic activities, municipal administration, law enforcement, crime control, etc.

Moreover, the above proposal to expand Guwahati to other parts of Kamrup (Metro) district and some parts of its neighbouring districts like Kamrup, Morigaon, Darrang and Nalbari is sure to affect the finance of the State as well. Huge funds will be required to fund the developmental projects of the GMR, he pointed out.

It is not known whether the Government is keen to undertake such a venture that is fraught with the above consequences, said the noted town planner.

In this connection, he referred to the case of London city, where the Britishers applied the science of metropolitan development in such a way that it led to the distribution of economic activities and population in a rational manner, which has kept the population and size of London almost constant since 1945.

Following the World War II devastation, the authorities in London had reduced the city�s population from eight million to six million. Since then, the London population has remained almost constant. To achieve this success, the British Government set up eight satellite towns around London, which took away the burden of population from London. The British Government also set up 24 new towns in England between 1903 and 1990 to decentralise economic activities and also to distribute the urban population. Land use practices have also been firmly handled by the British Government for the purpose, he said.

Explaining the concepts of regional planning science, he said it provides for distribution of towns and services to the people. The Central Place Theory of the regional planning science was developed in 1933 by Walter Christaller, a German geographer. In order to distribute economic activities, services and population, authorities should adhere to this theory instead of concentrating them in Guwahati alone, as the latter approach is fraught with the danger of not only strangulating Guwahati, but also crippling the development of the entire State.

The noted town planner also referred to the sagacity of Mahatma Gandhi, who said India must preserve its villages. Moreover, the town planner also referred to the statement of former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, while inaugurating the Mysore IT.com in December 2002. The former President had laid stress on a reverse flow of population from the urban to the rural areas while speaking on that occasion, added Das.

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GMDA draft plan for GMR draws flak

GUWAHATI, Nov 10 - Noted architect and town planner Amiya Kumar Das has described the draft delineation plan of the Guwahati Metropolitan Region (GMR), recently notified by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), as a political decision. It is against the concepts of regional planning science, he said.

The GMR plan is prepared by the Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University and it has proposed the inclusion of 1,061 villages and 30 urban centres in five districts of the State, comprising a new area of around 3,143 sq km, giving the GMR a total area of around 3,471 sq km.

GMDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anurag Singh told this newspaper on Sunday that the GMR plan has been prepared in line with the Delhi National Capital Region to equally distribute the benefits of development to the suburban areas surrounding the Guwahati city.

Amiya Kumar Das, who worked with the Florida State Government�s Urban Planning Office for over 30 years as a town planner and now a resident of that American city, told this newspaper that the imprudent expansion of the Delhi Metropolitan area has led to numerous problems for the national capital in the areas of transportation, infrastructure, water supply, drainage and sewerage, garbage disposal, academic activities, municipal administration, law enforcement, crime control, etc.

Moreover, the above proposal to expand Guwahati to other parts of Kamrup (Metro) district and some parts of its neighbouring districts like Kamrup, Morigaon, Darrang and Nalbari is sure to affect the finance of the State as well. Huge funds will be required to fund the developmental projects of the GMR, he pointed out.

It is not known whether the Government is keen to undertake such a venture that is fraught with the above consequences, said the noted town planner.

In this connection, he referred to the case of London city, where the Britishers applied the science of metropolitan development in such a way that it led to the distribution of economic activities and population in a rational manner, which has kept the population and size of London almost constant since 1945.

Following the World War II devastation, the authorities in London had reduced the city�s population from eight million to six million. Since then, the London population has remained almost constant. To achieve this success, the British Government set up eight satellite towns around London, which took away the burden of population from London. The British Government also set up 24 new towns in England between 1903 and 1990 to decentralise economic activities and also to distribute the urban population. Land use practices have also been firmly handled by the British Government for the purpose, he said.

Explaining the concepts of regional planning science, he said it provides for distribution of towns and services to the people. The Central Place Theory of the regional planning science was developed in 1933 by Walter Christaller, a German geographer. In order to distribute economic activities, services and population, authorities should adhere to this theory instead of concentrating them in Guwahati alone, as the latter approach is fraught with the danger of not only strangulating Guwahati, but also crippling the development of the entire State.

The noted town planner also referred to the sagacity of Mahatma Gandhi, who said India must preserve its villages. Moreover, the town planner also referred to the statement of former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, while inaugurating the Mysore IT.com in December 2002. The former President had laid stress on a reverse flow of population from the urban to the rural areas while speaking on that occasion, added Das.

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