Madhya Pradesh takes to green town planning
With weather becoming unpredictable over the years, and natural calamities like storms, floods and droughts happening every now and then, even urban areas are not immune to such disasters. With extreme weather events visiting urban areas more often, cities are being readied to face such calamities.
One way of doing this is by planning and making urban infrastructure resilient to bear natural unforeseen events. Even Madhya Pradesh is gearing up to ensure that floods that have damaged Bhopal and other cities do not bring about the same damaging impacts.
The city of Bhopal: Surrounded by greenery
Talking about disaster management strategies, Dr Asit Kumar Patra, Assistant Director, Disaster Management Institute, Bhopal, said that while earlier these were limited to post disaster response actions, of late, preparedness and prevention has taken more importance. “For example, in earthquake prone areas, quake resistant buildings are being encouraged. Similarly, in cyclone prone areas, advanced warning based on satellite information is shared with people,” he said.
Dr Patra said that almost all cities in Madhya Pradesh, like any other part of the country, are vulnerable to climate change induced events. He acknowledged that it was difficult to separately define climate change related disasters. “Gradually, we are incorporating the aspect of climate change while strategising disaster management. We are making our structures and strategies more resilient. We cannot ignore climate change challenges, therefore we should be better geared to face it,” Dr Patra said.
Trees are lined up on the banks of Big Lake of Bhopal
Drawing a distinction between rural and urban floods, he said that the latter are largely man made. According to him stagnation of water has become a big problem in bigger cities like Mumbai and Kolkata. “Low lying areas of bigger cities should have a proper plan of evacuation in case of flooding. Excessive rain can flood urban areas as there is obstruction to free flow of water, while in rural areas, the drainage systems are comparatively more functional,” he explained.
What also helps strengthen urban areas in terms of climate proofing are how disaster management strategies are incorporated into master plans. Shri Gulshan Bamra, Commissioner-cum-Director, Town & Country Planning, Madhya Pradesh, quoted a tweet from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, saying that the future master plans for urban areas in Madhya Pradesh would factor-in climate challenges.
Shri Gulshan Bamra, Commissioner-cum-Director, Town & Country Planning, Madhya Pradesh speaking on urban planning
“It is the responsibility of city planners to safeguard the green interests of urban areas. Having worked previously with Environmental Planning & Coordination Organisation (EPCO), and on the Bhoj wetland in Bhopal, I can personally relate to the importance of water bodies and greenery in cities,” he said.
For better protection of cities, Shri Bamra called for strict adherence to master plans. “We are now in the process of making the third master plan for Bhopal. We had to shelve one of the proposed master plans in 2006-07 after it was opposed by public on grounds of increased urban density near the lake. We understand that water bodies have a very important place in this city and people are very sensitive about them.” Shri Bamra said.
The vigilantism shown by the people of Bhopal has guided the government towards green town planning because of which the city planners have kept in mind not just the conservation of the 40 sq km Upper Lake, but also its 400 sq km catchment area. He said that the entire catchment area of Bhopal Upper Lake has been declared as a no-colonisation zone and the usage of land in the catchment area is limited to agricultural activities. “Construction is a strictly regulated activity in this area of 400 sq km which is spread in Bhopal and neighbouring Sehore district, and also includes a hundred odd villages on its stretch,” Shri Bamra said.