Planning process without Planners (Part 2 of 3)

An Ideal Planning Process

Leaving political lobbying apart, development takes place in accordance to various types of plans like Master Plans, Development Plans, and Town Planning Schemes etc. These names differs from place to place and country to country. These are statutory documents violation of which is a punishable offence under law. Our previous article was “Why political agendas never solve your problems“.

As per the existing system all the works are carried out as per the rules and regulations set by one or the other ministry. You have Ministry for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to look after the housing for poors in Urban Areas, Ministry of Rural Development takes care of Rural areas to fulfill their needs. Similarly Ministry of Power, Coal looks after your electricity generation and supply whereas Home Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs work as per the rules and regulations as mentioned in constitution. Since most if the countries including India is democratic nation Ministers and other elected representatives form the basis of this democratic system who are supposed to serve the people and work for betterment of everyone. Everything till now seems perfect and works fine all around the world. All democratic countries have election and choose their representatives which form the government either central or state government. This government is formed by complete majority or by collation by different political parties.

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This is the point of concern and where everyone should be thoughtful. A citizen’s vote which is the deciding criteria for the functional government is given on basis of agendas and promises of the party contesting for election. The work done the winning party mainly revolves around the party’s agendas which than directs the projects which are undertaken during their tenure. No doubt that the agendas are as per the requirements of people at large and are meant to solve the issues which people encounter and wish to be solved. This work of delivering the work and solving problems is given to concerned head who have decades of experience and are highly qualified. Expert committed, working groups, task forces etc are formed which have experts from different fields with exceptional performance and experience of having solved such issues.

We will say again that this is how work is done with no flaw in it if everyone performs their duty diligently and as expected. Here one thing which is missing and is even now ignored is the need based projects and public participation. 

Why things do not get solved

The members of the various groups largely consist of experts who never did the analysis of ground reality. In such cases the policies framed and the actions taken turn out to be of no use as the solutions offered are not applicable at ground. Another reason is the political will for a project or action instead of the actual need. This political will at times is also the command/order from those in power who seems to get rid of most of the problems because of which a common man suffers daily. The problems which were never solved by the previous government and he expects to be solved this time and every time elections take place.

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Alas, the actual problem is rarely assessed and no one takes the pain or responsibility of getting in touch with the sufferer or the problem to understand the situation better. The person who elects the government is thrown out of the scene. Here comes the role of Planners who are trained in a manner which takes into account the much debated public participation, participation of end user. Planner has learned the art of assessing the problems first by various means and different types of surveys by being on the site during their training or education period. Having survey different people with and without authority and powers. Urban Planners have the actual and required experience needed for solving the problem. The experience obtained by visiting the site and having learned the process of solving the process by a well defined systems of urban planning is much more effective when compared to the experience on papers and the experience of making policies which never worked. It takes a lot of work and time to be a part of community which is facing problem, understanding their issue requires you to think from their perspective which can only be done by means of a good participatory planning. Visiting the places and experiencing the real life problems rather than only sitting comfortably on desk and suggesting solutions.

How and why will planner be helpful

Been There Done That! That’s the way planners are trained. Its adventure, fun, academic necessity and a experience in itself. This is one of the very fact which makes Planning different from other educational courses and have a positive significant impact professionally. Now not bragging much about it let’s come straight to the point and why does it makes sense and why does it matter.

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Planning students get vast exposure to understand and appreciate the knitty gritty of plan making process at different hierarchy of plans starting from Local area plan, zonal plan, master plan and upto regional plan. The scale especially of Master plan and Regional plans which deals with cities and cuts across states respectively requires in-depth research of multi-disciplinary nature and if only architects and engineers are involved in preparing the urban and regional plans then it will only appear as urban design. Detailed knowledge of surveys helps us in problem identification related to transportation, infrastructure, environment, housing etc. The studies are undertaken by visiting the site, doing surveys, interacting with local people, interviewing government officials and understanding the problems. Plans and policies thus formulated takes into account all aspects to make a city/area work in an efficient way.

Related: Urban Planning – A largely Unknown Profession

We will be covering the “Loss to community due to incompetent planners” which are incurred at different level ranging from individual loss to a collective loss for state or country. This loss is either because of not involving planners at all or appointing incompetent planners which happens because of various reasons in our next part “Loss to community because of incompetent planners”

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