In-Situ Development (India)

“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.” – Jamais Cascio

‘In-situ’ refers to any development that emanates and occurs within the site. It also reflects the same concepts of adaptability, but within a geographical constraint. The term is widely used in physics, astronomy, geography, economics, medicine, economics etc. In today’s context IN-SITU is practiced in:

  • Creation of viable habitat in Mars through production of cementitious material – a mixture of Martian soil and dehydrated (cured) can be 3D printed thus requiring less material to be transported from Earth (Aidan Cowley, 2015),
  • Hybridization technique in molecular biology using the complementary nature of RNA or DNA the targeted strand is extracted instead of artificially creating one in lab (Jensen, 2014) ,
  • New technologies in mining of Uranium wherein the aquifer region is undisturbed and restored back by reverse osmosis.

As planners have widened their gamut of work, and for a fact that planning as a tool has become the utmost sole compliance for the global call today, concepts of IN-SITU in every sector requires an intervention. Some of the cases closely pertaining to planning field would be as follows

IN-SITU conservation

In-situ conservation largely covers the model to protect forests where the habitat is encapsulated within the forest area boundary created by the civilians to rusticate human movement to some degree in case of National Parks and Bio reserves. Another example is Sacred Grooves where a community takes care of their flora and fauna.

To the East of Khasi hills (Meghalaya, India) is the LIVING ROOT BRIDGE – JING KIENG JRI a suspension bridge created from the roots of Ficus elastica (Khan, 2018). It’s a live project that stands strong even during adverse climatic conditions of North Eastern Himalayas, local labour, affordability, remedial in nature on the surrounding environment, supporting the other plant species this project stands out to be a model for socio-economic sustainability and resilience. The bridge was developed precariously by the tribes for over a period of 15-30 years which started with the construction of Bamboo scaffolding, the Areca catechu is initially made to act as support system for the aerial roots to grow, then it was periodically checked for root inosculation (twinning) and a load test is done at the final stage.

Growth process of living root bridges
Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya by Sanjeev Shankar

IN-SITU slum development

One of the challenging issues faced by urban planners today is providing adequate infrastructure and tackling housing shortage for rural migrants and climate refugees especially in developing countries. Indian government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana popularly called PMAY is a scheme promoting In-situ slum development. The slum dwellers are benefited by private participation to build new house. The two components that act as primary focus here are – Slum Rehabilitation Scheme component and Free Sale component (Contractor, 2019).

Related Articles:

  1. In-situ Slum Redevelopment (India)
  2. What is Land Use Planning?
  3. Exploration of Sustainable Rainwater Management Techniques
  4. Land Use Planning in India
  5. Types of Development Plans in India
  6. Delhi Master Plan 2021

Land-based Potential

The third and most importantly an unchartered cross section of perspective in planning that is subtly looked upon as concepts or practiced without discovering the true potential for creating a sustainable civilization is maximizing land-based potential through practices like:

Land Based Rainwater Harvesting

Land Based Rainwater Harvesting in which reservoirs are created or captured in soil directly. This is further classified into MICRO CATCHMENT using methods such as Strip catchment tillage (water directly flows to the adjacent crop), contour/key line barriers (reduce water runoff and soil erosion), Basin systems (creating square catchment area with low earth bunds at its periphery) and MACRO CATCHMENT the basin is located outside the cropping premise. Ephemeral stream diversion system that streamlines the seasonal rainwater to infiltrate low lying basins. Here not just land based but also water as a resource in considered to procreate food security.

One of the most popular Smart villages which stands as model till date is the Hivre Bazar (Maharashtra, India) that was uplifted by their Sarpanch (Village head) Popatrao Pawar using the Sapt Sutras (7 rules) out of which water management was crucial. The economy of the village advancement so much that their income rose upto 30,000 per capita eventually became the village earning highest GDP and made the village migrants to return. One of his most vivid comparison is the water usage by these migrants increases the water demand of Mumbai city and by bringing them back to village simply means the village has helped save urban water scarcity!


Permaculture was first introduced by David Holmgren an environmental designer and co originator of the concept. In one of his books titled Retro Suburbia, he mentions that, Permaculture is that tool to augment intense land use which follows Universal Ethics with Ecological Principles of design. Permaculture is based on twelve principles which are compared to the twelve spokes of a clock, in turn creating a hub or a zone in the center where the spokes are pinned to become Ethics (endorsing care for Earth, People and Fair Share).

Permaculture Wheel

Permaculture Wheel, Source- Darren @ InterConnected

Binay Kumar Singh a techie turned agriculturalist is currently a successful trainer in India teaching Permaculture to the rural folk to improve food security and the urban society on how to grow greens within their home(IAHV, n.d.). His profound knowledge on this subject matter was the resultant of years of research and reinterpreting indigenous techniques that was practiced locally. His stand on this concept is to harvest rainwater, avoid using any machinery for ploughing land, promoting seasonal produce, diversity in cropping pattern and parallelly tending to the three elements – AIR, WATER and EARTH. He recommends just three steps – Water Management (by slow down, spread and percolation of water), Soil health (maintaining the fertility of Living soil), Pest management (crop diversity to maintain web including insects).

Energy is the only constraint in this era that looks upto Sustainability as a comprehensive solution. Permaculture is the most judicious design system that’s fluid and adaptable in all forms of ecosystem (existence of microorganisms with variation in un/aerobic conditions) and can begin from a sustainable house to local forest feeding the entire ecosystem without depleting resources with growing economy.

Implication of IN-SITU


Member of NOSPlan
School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada


  • Aidan Cowley, L. T. (2015). How to 3D-print a habitat on Mars. Retrieved from ROOM Space Journal of Asgardia:
  • Contractor, K. (2019, November). The Hidden Costs of “In-Situ Slum Redevelopment in Mumbai. Retrieved from Penn Institute for Urban Research:
  • Forest, A. F. (n.d.). The Aranya Permaculture Food Story. Retrieved from Aranya Food Forest :
  • IAHV. (n.d.). Permaculture. Retrieved from International Association for Human Values:
  • Jensen, E. (2014, May 9). Technical Review: In Situ Hybridization. Retrieved from The Anatomical Record of American Association of Anatomy:
  • Khan, G. (2018, March 12). Surreal Photos of India’s Living Root Bridges. Retrieved from National Geographic:

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