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Need for Scientific Urban Planning

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Scientific Urban Planning begining: In the late 19th century, evolution of a well-planned modern Mysuru town started off with a few wide roads radiating from the central fort area (now Amba vilas). The town went on to scientifically add public offices, market places, vast parks, along with a well-planned road network developed around the central fort area.

In the 90s, MUDA designed and built some spectacular residential layouts that are spaciously spread with all civic amenities, 100% underground drainage system and beautiful roads. The main road network integrates very well with the central core of old Mysuru. Thanks to MUDA for superior urban planning, which makes Mysuru to be counted as one of the planned cities of India.

However, in recent times i.e. from early 2000s due to rapid urbanisation, the demand for individual plots has outpaced the supply from MUDA leading to heavy proliferation of haphazardly designed private layouts. Also the expansion of Mysuru City Corporation limit has been limited, leaving many villages on the city periphery at the mercy of poorly governed and funded Gram Panchayats.

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Usually GPs lack expertise and resources to plan and develop civic infrastructure. So this remarkable differentiation of civic infra within the city has led to a situation of HAVES AND HAVES NOT which is slowly diminishing the brand of Mysuru as a “Planned City”. If this trend continues, Mysuru would turn into an irreparable urban mess which is not in anybody’s interest. So time has come to get back to the drawing board and develop scientific urban designs suitable to Mysuru.

Need for Expanding Mysuru City Limits

Expansion will ensure equitable development of the city with modern civic infrastructure and will help in raising the lifestyle index of the city.

Currently, Mysuru City Corporation takes care of roughly 155.7 SQ KM of urban setting that comes under its jurisdiction, which is divided into 65 wards.

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Municipal wards enjoy superior civic amenities like scientific solid waste management system, clean tap water running 24×7, daily road upkeep, streetlights, well maintained parks, underground drainage system, wide planned roads, public transport infra and regular sanitisation. Unfortunately, most of the newly built private layouts and peripheral villages lack the above mentioned facilities.

To understand where Mysuru stands with regard to current and projected population and urbanisation, statistics are tabulated below which leads us to one important parameter.

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Projected Population and Urbanisation, Statistics | Source

Equitable Development Ratio < 1.0 

Most Important parameter is the ratio of built-up urban and MCC jurisdiction area. This ratio throws light on the extent of inequitable urban development in Mysuru. In 2000, the ratio was 0.59; which means all of the urban built area was governed by MCC. In 2010, the ratio was 1, signifying “just” equitable development. Ideally, MCC should have progressively expanded its jurisdiction to maintain a ratio < 1.0. Ratio <1 would mean equitable development in the city.

Between 2010 to 2020, limited expansion of MCC limits has kept nearly 45% of urban built up area out of bounds of MCC civic facilities. Finally it only points to the eroding quality of lifestyle in Mysuru with time.

Below image shows the MCC limit (marked in black dashed line) and the spillover of layouts.

Mysuru Land Usage Map
Mysuru Land Usage Map | Source: MUDA

Bigger the Population Bigger the Funds and Greater access to Schemes

The downside of having a lower population figure is that cities are ineligible for various central govt urban schemes. Usually, cities with greater population have greater chances of qualifying for mega urban schemes. For instance, MoUHA only considers million plus populated cities for Mass rapid transport systems like metro and mono rail. Therefore, it is in the interest of Mysuru to expand its corporation limit before the next National census.

Mysuru Suburban Problems

Mysuru needs proper urban planning, because its suburbs on the outskirts are growing along with some very critical problems. If left unaddressed, it can lead to urban disaster in the coming years. 

  • Horizontal sprawl : Mysuru is largely a flat city with massive residential layouts sprawling across. Such a setup is unsustainable considering the huge land requirements apart from incurring significant costs in the development of infrastructure for layout style housing and maintenance. Land is already scarce and unfortunately, in most cases housing layouts are being built over fertile agricultural lands which endangers food security.
  • Unplanned residential layouts : Most of the private layouts sprouting on the outskirts are developed on small revenue lands/farm lands which come under town planning authority/gram panchayats. To maximise their profits, private developers usually compromise on the layout design and road width leading to choked road connectivity with adjacent layouts in the form of numerous dead ends. As a consequence it has detrimental effect on the real estate value of the layout. The resale value of a site would settle at lower levels failing to fetch good returns.
  • Strain on Public Transportation- Maze of Choked Roads : As a result of large unplanned horizontal sprawl and poorly integrated road network, public transportation will largely remain out of bounds in such suburbs. It also makes operation of even mini city buses financially unviable in an infinite maze of choked roads. 
  • Limited scope for MRTS: For any MRTS project to succeed in the truest form, it is important to ensure last mile connectivity. In most metro cities the trend is to have higher FAR along MRTS lines to develop dense residential and commercial pockets. It is a win-win situation here for the public and the MRTS owners. But MRTS demands wide roads connecting major residential and commercial centers and they preferably be aligned straight. Unfortunately, the poorly planned suburban areas don’t meet the necessary conditions thus limiting the prospects of building MRTS like metro or mono rail in future.
  • Increase in Carbon Footprint : Horizontal sprawl results in increased carbon footprint. More road length means more travel distance and hence, more vehicular emissions. As on today, the distance from CBD to the farthest housing layout is about 15KM. Any further expansion from here will fatigue out the city badly.

All in all, Mysuru suburban areas are facing many challenges, but the above listed ones need to be tackled urgently.

Mysuru must Aim for

  • Uniform Municipal Laws : All byelaws and building norms shall be uniformly applicable across Mysuru urban region. This brings homogeneity and orderliness making governance of the city easier and simpler.
  • Equitable Development : Superior civic infra and amenities must be provided to all residents to ensure highest living standards across the city without differentiation. A goal that every city corporation must meet.
  • Sustainable Development : Judicious utilisation of land must be the prime aim considering scarcity of land for housing and FSI (Floor space index) must be relaxed to support vertical development. Emphasis must be laid on improving green cover of the city.

Way Forward

Stage 1: Expansion of Mysuru city corporation limits by absorbing developed/semi developed MUDA approved layouts and villages under gram panchayat.

It is important to acknowledge that implementation of such major urban reforms will face immediate challenges like mobilisation of physical resources and finances.  

Challenge 1: Fund Mobilisation: Due to the fact that most of the areas under Gram Panchayats are poorly equipped with civic infra, their immediate transfer in present form will financially burden the MCC. So MCC will have to look for avenues to mobilise funds and resources to upgrade their infrastructure and to render services. Below mentioned are some possible interventions through which funds can be mobilised. 

Short Term

  • Loans- Approach World Bank, Asian development bank or any other with low interest rates.
  • One time Government grant- Prepare a comprehensive report and submit it to the state/ central government seeking one time funds.

Medium Term

  • Start taxing the areas recently absorbed.
  • Levy Greater Mysuru cess on some municipal services.
  • Monetize existing parking lots in CBD to rake in revenue.
  • Increase the monthly tariff in all city markets managed by MCC.

Long Term

  • Construct solid waste to energy generation plants.
  • Build Debris recycling plants and generate revenue by selling the by-products.
  • Develop multi-level parking lots.
  • Monetize entry of some popular parks and tourist centers under MCC.

Challenge 2: Physical Resource Mobilization: Services like door to door waste collection and street maintenance require significant investment in men and material. Therefore, MCC must mobilise these resources with the funds generated from short term interventions. 

Stage 2: Making Urban Development Authority more competent

Mysuru urban development authority (MUDA) must mature into a more competent authority and solve the suburban issues highlighted above.

  • Establish a competent urban planning and design department headed by a team of senior city planners.
  • MUDA, MCC, Directorate of Municipal Administration, Karnataka, Directorate of Urban Land Transport and other similar stakeholders need to share knowledge with each other often and focus on training their personal with new age design tool to accomplish Urban planning scientifically.
  • Take Stringent action on private developers failing to develop basic infra.
  • MUDA must initiate transfer of private layout under its jurisdiction to MCC only after ensuring necessary infrastructure is in place.
  • Initiate vertical growth zones.

Emphasize on Vertical Growth

Horizontal versus Vertical Urban setting
Horizontal versus Vertical Urban setting

To reduce carbon footprint and maintenance costs of civic infra, it is imperative to support vertical growth.  Outskirts of Mysuru  must have FSI value > 2.75 to allow skyscrapers. Importantly, well planned road network should integrate with existing major thoroughfares of the city to enable seamless and comfortable transit. Also the design of road network must be such that it accommodates MRTS in future. Vertical development has many advantages to offer. Firstly, it will save ample acres of land that can be used for developing green zones and other civic amenities. Secondly, it will lower housing costs and finally, it will reduce encroachment of farmlands.

Expanding Mysuru City Corporation limits

In a major boost towards the realisation of Greater Mysuru, recently, Chamundi Hill, Hinkal, Srirampura and Bogadi GPs received in principle approval for their merger with MCC all due to the efforts of MP Shri Pratap Simha and MLA GT Devegowda. Take a look at the updates in the below tweet. 

Urban Planning is a Scientific Art, Unique to each City

Scientific Urban Planning: Today we are standing at a critical juncture, wherein, on one side we ought to preserve heritage character of the city and on the other hand we need to do everything to script economic success. However, in this process there is a real threat to the rich culture and heritage. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully craft the urban designs to eliminate the threat. Every city more or less face similar set of civic issues but that does not mean a successful urban design of one city would be applicable to others, so the stakeholders involved in development of the city need to coordinate with each other and formulate reforms that best suit our city needs.

Also Read: Mysuru urgently needs a regular Airport and a large Cargo Complex

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