Hyderabad: While Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao dreams of developing urban areas in the state on par with New York, London, and San Francisco, he fails to take into account the dearth of planning experts in the Directorate of Town and Country Planning department.
The state government has made no plans to meet the growing needs of rapid urbanisation.
It has been chalking out plans with less than 50 per cent of the sanctioned strength in the planning departments of cities, towns and newly converted municipalities.
Unlike developed nations, employees working in the municipal administration and urban development (MA & UD) department here will not get rigorous training in planning garbage disposal, urban flooding and other such essential areas. There are no courses in universities and colleges in Telangana state on urban planning and development.
According to highly placed sources in the department, due to lack of planning experts in the Telangana state, the government has been relying on experts from Delhi, Mumbai and other parts of the country for designing master plans, infrastructure, transportation, landscaping, energy management, spatial information technology remote sensing and environmental planning.
The MA&UD department has been relying on consultants for a Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS) for the growing needs of the urban population. While about 3.5 crore people reside in urban areas, including six corporations and 142 municipalities, not even 20 per cent of the qualified planners have completed M. Tech planning in the state to design happy, healthy and hassle free living.
The state does not even have one qualified planner in each municipality and the decision to recruit 150 eligible planners for 142 ULBs is still pending with the state government.
Sources said that in the absence of eligible planners who were either in charge or promoted, the development in urban areas will be focused and restricted to one specific area in the city or town and development in the western part of Hyderabad would be an ideal example.
Prior to according building permission, the urban planners should consider the key parameters including the environment, population density, urban infrastructure, mobility and impact it would make 10 to 20 years down the line.
Due to lack of urban planners, the scattered development in the city has been troubling citizens with pollution, water contamination, traffic congestion and lack of parking spaces. Even though the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has a traffic and transportation wing, it has done no planning to enhance the quality of living.
Barring the GHMC, none of the other corporations and ULBs have T&T wing. Due to apathy of successive governments in recruiting qualified urban planners, a city like Hyderabad is in dire need of an Urban Redevelopment Plan (URP), designed to help the city create public and private partnerships to encourage redevelopment and revitalisation within defined areas of the city.
However, sources said if the state government wakes up and recruits qualified urban planners, 142 municipalities and five corporations including Warangal, Khammam, Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Ramagundam could be saved from the present scattered and unsatisfactory development. This apart, the government should also introduce related courses in universities and colleges, said TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao recently.
Mr K. Srinivas Rao, chairman of the Institute of Town Planners India, Telangana chapter, said that despite recruiting qualified urban planners, the government should also put its policies pertaining to urban planning in the public domain.
He said visionless successive governments have made land conversions according to their will, deviating from the master plan, which results in traffic snarls, parking issues and nuisance in residential areas which were later converted to semi-residential, mixed use and semi-commercial.
Mr Srinivas said that governments have even converted conservation zones and SEZs in the master plans. “What is the use of a master plan when nothing goes according to the plan?” he pointed out.
Mr K. Vidyadhar, director DTCP, said that the recruitment of as many as 150 urban planners has been pending with the state government.
He said the state has about 50 urban planning experts in six corporations and 142 ULBs....