Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Talk on “Creating Affordable Urban Capacity” by Mr. Subir K. Roy, Newspaper Columnist and Writer, on Monday, 29th October, 2012 at 6:30 pm. The Talk was moderated by Mr. V. Naresh Narasimhan, Architect- Principal, Venkataramanan Associates, Bangalore.
In a wide-ranging talk, Mr. Subir Roy touched on the various methods employed by urban planners to create capacity in towns and cities and emphasized that these have only managed to create enormous abnormalities and deteriorations in the quality of civic life. He urged that a radical departure from the conventional pattern of urban planning was the need of the hour; instead, the urban planners should consciously seek to evolve a low cost, innovative, bottom of the pyramid approach. As a first step, he suggested that efforts to create more urban capacities in large cities like Mumbai, or Delhi or Kolkata should not be pursued as the infrastructural costs are likely to be astronomical. One should therefore closely look at cities with growth potential where such costs would be much less. In this context, peri-urban areas which often are de facto parts of cities have more attractive possibilities for creation of additional urban capacities at an affordable cost. Mr. Roy emphasized that in the larger cities, which are much more user-friendly to the rich, the average middle class and the poor are terribly marginalized and often cannot afford certain basic civic amenities like decent shelters or adequate drinking water. He also pleaded for an enlightened approach towards the rehabilitation of slum-dewellers by giving them ownership rights, access to finance through a Risk Guarantee Corporation, involving them in redeveloping their own houses so that they have a sense of ownership and providing them facilities like drinking water, toilet, paved walk-ways etc. Other suggestions made by him included a) regular, cheap and clean bus services connecting all the parts of cities, b) raising tax on private cars and imposing inner city congestion surcharge and c) managing the bus fleets by using GPS.
The interactive session brought into focus several other urban issues like watershed management, rejuvenation of lakes and other water-bodies, water-harvesting and recharging of ground water, solid waste management etc. It was an interesting evening of constructive talks on urban planning.