People Oriented Development – Part 2

In Part 1, I laid out the idea of a ‘POD’ as an Object-oriented development, i.e. we should design city and urban plans for the people. We should plan them with people being the ends and not mere means for such developments. In Part 2 I’m looking at this concept as an Agent-oriented development, i.e. we should also notice that these developments are of the people and should be by the people.

City plans, urban designs and housing configurations are expressions of the people for whom they are planned. Authorities must involve the range of stakeholders in the entire processes of planning and budgeting – from inception through completion and execution. They must strive to make the process transparent holding some agencies as guardians of the people’s will and accountable for their decisions and choices.

In India though, it is quite the contrary. One, the authorities merely comply to the order of a public review, and two, people do not think it is important enough for them to spend their time in voicing their opinions. For instance, Haryana Government published the Gurgaon-Manesar Master Plan 2021 in 2006. The plan was approved and published in the gazette on July 11, 2006, and then the public could file any objection relating to it till August 10, 2006, i.e. merely a month for a plan that would affect more than 37 lakh people (3,700,000). Not to mention, that this review was advertised only in the Gazette once.

It is not that people don’t have an opinion. They either do not voice it or they don’t get a chance. People still do not recognize their right to information and participation – which assures them access to accurate and comprehensive information on which they could act or react and make a difference to their own future.  Those who are often directly affected are the poor, whose voices are choked by the other more ‘influential’ stakeholders. Gurgaon-Manesar is a case in point.

We need to change this, if we need a development that is more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. First and foremost, planning authorities need to recognize that involving the public in the planning process is not a burden but rather a boon. If people believe it was their idea to build their city that way, they will be more responsible and careful about using it. Enabling the people to take responsibility for their surroundings will only ensure longevity to the development.

Second, plans and urban development projects must go over a 3 stage or more Public Review Process before getting implemented. It must be the duty of the proponent of such projects to sufficiently advertise, conduct, record, examine, and enforce all the review meetings and their outcomes. They should budget for all these meetings at the beginning of the process itself. Digital media may also be considered. [ http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/research/rpp/RPP-2003-05.pdf ]

It is not about solving the blame-game. It is about creating a place for the people, of the people and by the people.

[For definitions read : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_participation ]

[For more : http://www.archonfung.net/ ]

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