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Case Study: Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976

Background 

For the process of Town Planning in India, the Bombay Town Planning Act, 1915 was first introduced in India. Concerning with the matters of urban development, the Act empowered local authorities for controlled land use and development. It responded to rectify the chaotic and unhealthy environment created by the industrialization at that time and ensured and orderly development for any urban area wherever it came into force. But there were many problems associated with it. The Act depended on the initiative of the local body. It was unable to solve the problem of suburban development and it required of comprehensive and integrated plans for the cities for tackling with the complex physical, social and economic conditions. Hence, to overcome the unplanned and unattended development in periphery, the Act was replaced by the Bombay Town Planning Act, 1954. The concept of Development Plans was introduced for the first time through this Act. It led to making of Development Plans and Town Planning Schemes simultaneously in the cities and towns. The important aspect of public participation in planning was also introduced with this very Act.

The Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976

The Gujarat State being a part of the then Bombay State, had enacted the Bombay Town Planning Act, 1915, which empowered the local authorities to prepare Town Planning Schemes for fast developing areas of the city or town. The Town Planning Scheme being micro level planning restricted to part of city. Therefore, the coming of Bombay Town Planning Act, 1954 empowered the local authorities to prepare Development Plans for cities and towns in the state. With this new legislation, there was sudden increase in town planning and development activities. Many local authorities undertook the preparation of Development Plan.

On 1st May 1960, the Bombay State was bifurcated to form two States – Maharashtra and Gujarat. Both the States inherited the laws and Acts prevailing at the time of Bombay State. It was important to recognize a new set of legislation which could empower the authorities towards the development of each of the states.

Hence, in exercise of the powers conferred by the section 3 of the Gujarat State Legislature (Delegation of Powers) Act, 1976, the President enacted The Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development ACT, 1976 to consolidate and amend the law relating to the making and execution of development plans and town planning schemes in the state of Gujarat. The Act came in to force from 1st February 1978. The Act is a set of very comprehensive planning legislation. It encompasses wide range of planning, starting from regional planning at macro level to the micro level. It also empowers the State Government to recognize, identify and delineate the areas, having potential for the development. Thus, with this Act, the planning process remained no longer attached with any settlement or local body.

Also Read: Landmarks & Development of Town Planning process in India

Town Planning

The salient features of the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development (GTPUD) Act,1976

It empowers the Area/Urban Development Authority to prepare DP/TPS for its area of jurisdiction & control the development of city as well as fringe area

It is a comprehensive legislative act which responds to local challenges of growth

The Act empowers the Area/Urban Development Authority to prepare DP/TPS for its area of jurisdiction & Control the development of city as well as fringe area. It is meant to consolidate and amend the law relating to the making of DP & TPS

It was enacted according to powers conferred in Gujarat State Legislature Act,1976

The Act has 8 chapters including the introductory chapter of short title and the end chapter of miscellaneous provisions of RTIs, public notices and FAQs

Further the Act is thought to be a response to a large number of problems within urban areas like haphazard and non-conforming land use patterns, lack of adequate and efficient services / facilities and overall deteriorating environment which demand for a systematic approach in the planning and development of urban areas.

The coined provisions of the Act pertaining to urban development

In the purview of the background, the GTPUD act, 1976 entails some basic provisions which are focused towards a balanced urban development within the framework of overall national vision. These provisions are:

Development area and constitution of Area Development Authorities

This section in the Act details out the basics of development area. With explicit powers and functions of area development authority, this part of the act defines a precise manner of preparation of draft development plan. This section has acquisition of land and the of revision of development plan as a unique feature of the GTPUD Act, 1976.

Declaration of urban development areas and constitution of urban development authorities.

Declaration and constitution of urban development authority, explicit powers and functions of urban development authority, entrustment of powers and functions to Government Company, expenses of urban development authority are central. Further, provisions of Act applicable to urban development authority are also detailed out here.

Control of development and use of land included in Development Plans

The specific provisions which help us understand the underlying basis of guided urban development through development plans are:

  • Constitution of Area Development Authority
  • Preparation & submission of Draft Development Plan
  • Contents of Draft Development Plan
  • Acquisition of land put under reservation and lapsing of designation.
  • Revision of Development Plan
  • Constitution of Urban Development authorities
  • Powers & functions of state govt. and urban development authorities
  • Development on behalf of govt. & authority
  • Levy, assessment and recovery of development charges

Town Planning Schemes

The specific provisions which help us understand the underlying basis of guided urban development through town planning schemes are:

  • Making and contents of T P Scheme and consultation with Chief Town Planner
  • Contents of draft scheme
  • Disputed ownership
  • Duties of Town Planning Officer in preparation of Preliminary and Final Scheme
  • Contents of Preliminary Scheme and Final Scheme
  • Power of Govt. to sanction Draft and Preliminary and Final Scheme
  • Withdrawal of Scheme and power to vary scheme on ground of error, informality
  • Costs of Scheme and Fund of the appropriate authority

Finance

All the important costs relating to urban development through the DP/TPS are looked in the act. These include basic costs of scheme, calculation of increment, transfer of right from original to final plot, fund of the appropriate authority, power of authority to borrow money, compensation of property, budget of authority, accounts and audit, annual reports, offences and penalties, etc.

Levy, assessment and recovery of development charges

Levy of development charges, rates of development charges, assessment and recovery of development charges, constitution of Tribunals, appeal and revision are explicitly discussed in the act in this section to make it accountable, responsive and sensitive towards urban development.

The Act being a catalyst of contemporary Urban Development

The Gujarat Town Planning & Urban Development Act, 1976 were enacted as a result of which the development beyond the city limit could be controlled. The brief description of all the provisions, and detailing out of provisions for Development Plans and Town Planning Schemes of the act help us validate this rationale behind the preparation of the act.

Further, some very unique aspects covered in the act point towards the validation of the rationale a bit further. For example, the act covers the matter of compulsory acquisition of land needed for purpose of town planning scheme or Development plan. Vesting of property and rights of appropriate authority ceasing to exist or ceasing to have jurisdiction clears out any litigation in-appropriations during the preparation of DP/TPS. Further, the special provision in case of dissolution or supersession of local authority give it a unique character. Also, the act tries to make urban development free from market driven factors. Hence, it has certain provisions which limit the powers of developers, avoid monopoly. There are even indications of public notice how to be made known. The offences by companies are also dealt in accordance with the act. Basically, it ensures that the power to make rules and regulations are not done at the cost of balanced urban development. And if this happens, the dissolution of appropriate authority can be subsequently carried out.

We need to understand that urban development is context specific. And when we talk about a state, it happens in layers. It is roughly is a two-level process. At macro level, the urban planning is conducted in the form of city development plan, or simply a development plan for the entire city area or the development area. The second level i.e. micro level urban planning is done, in the form of a Town Planning Scheme, which is prepared for smaller areas of the city, keeping in view the needs of such smaller area. The Act is a comprehensive act that targets these two layers quite effectively.

Further, we also need to understand that the pace of expansion of other arenas should be in par with the pace of urbanization so as to have uniform urban development. It is important to extend the limits of local authorities to systematically allow the developments in peri urban area. The mere provisions of the Act may/may not always promise a better urban growth direction. Alongside, there is a need to focus on the amendments of the Act to trap the financial resources and to achieve the optimum level of urban planning.