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CONNECTING MOSAICS 2016: Workshop for Exploring India's Culture of Spatial Planning

8-9 June, 2016 Odisha

GIZ- Land Use Planning and Management (LUPM) project has partnered with Department of Land Resources (DoLR), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India with an objective to apply instruments of integrated spatial planning and land use planning in Indian states. It is vital to understand existing spatial planning processes, institutional structures, and legal framework to recognize the challenges and identify possible solutions. In this regard, a two-day workshop ‘Connecting Mosaics 2016’ was organised by GIZ- Land Use Planning and Management (LUPM) in close partnership with Inclusive Cities Partnership Programme (ICPP) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 8-9 June, 2016.

The main objective of the workshop was to understand the practice and conceptualization of Spatial Planning in India & the existing challenges. Also, to understand the existing roles and contributions of the planners profession, its key actors and related academia in Spatial Planning.

The workshop was well received by the participants. It was attended by the Director (Housing), Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation; Joint Secretary to Government of Odisha, Revenue and Disaster Management (R&DM) Department; Member Secretary, State Planning Commission Government of Tamil Nadu; Chief Town Planner, Town & Country Planning, Government of Odisha; Member Secretary, Town & Country Planning Department, Government of Goa; Planning Member, Rourkela Development Authority, Government of Odisha; Deputy Secretary, Revenue Department, Government of Gujarat; Academic think tank from Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad; NIRMA University, Ahmedabad; School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, IIEST, Shibpur; and experts.

Day 1

On the first day of the workshop there were a wide range of disparate presenters, and the convergence – and occasional divergence – made for educative interaction. In the inaugural session of the workshop dignitaries and experts from divergent backgrounds made presentations on Juxtaposing Human Settlements with Spatial Plans by Mr. Satinder Pal Singh, Exploring the Culture of Spatial Planning in India by Mr. Georg Jahnsen, State of Spatial Planning in India by Mr. Vidyadhar Phatak and Framework for Spatial Planning in Odisha by Mr. Sangram Mohapatra.

Mr. Satinder Pal Singh emphasized that cities are key to tackling the problems of urban poverty, social inequality and climate change and if managed efficiently they can become sustainable and inclusive. Also, it is crucial to evaluate whether the investments and programmes are addressing the spatial distortions. Mr. Georg Jahnsen presented a Swiss artist work to emphasize that individual elements does not signify anything, it’s the connections and relations within the elements in the system that make the difference. He also emphasized the need to delve into aspects of spatial planning processes, practices, shortfalls and strategies to overcome it. Mr. Vidyadhar Phatak presented the evolution of spatial planning in India and the three important elements Scale, Purpose and Tools. Mr. Sangram Mohapatra reflected on the impacts of inefficient planning by highlighting the Odisha experiences of POSCO, Kalinga Nagar and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act.

In the technical sessions four group work exercises where a fictional situation was given for deliberation and share their outcomes. The keys areas deliberated by each group in their visual exercise are landscape of participation, planning process, framework for interaction and challenges. Some of the challenges identified by the groups are under utilisation of land, coastal regulations, institutional capacity of the agencies, political will, mapping of resources, accountability, environmental clearances, land acquisition, consensus building, and interdepartmental coordination. An open forum discussion in fish bowl format was held to discuss the above issues. Some of the suggestions obtained from the discussion are:

  • Planning process needs to be transparent and consultative

  • Setup mechanism for intermediate review and assessment of plans

  • Measures to curb market speculations

  • Resolve the discrepancies in land revenue records

  • Increase financial investment in urban sector

  • Recommend guiding factors for preparing spatial plans

  • Prepare regional level spatial plans (district level)

Day 2

On the second day, the technical session focused on the theme “Reflecting on Planners’ Profession”, where presentations were made on Planning Education in India by Mr. Utpal Sharma, A Historian’s Perspective of Planning Profession by Mr. Awedhendra Sharan, Reflections on Culture of Spatial Planning in India by Mr. Saswat Bandyopadhyay and Spatial Planning leveraging on ‘JUGAAD’ way of thinking by Ms. Aparna Das.

Mr. Sharma informed that most planning programs are still based on the western countries planning ideologies. The need to redefine the curricula is being felt increasingly and there is a conscious effort to try and plug planning education to the urban agenda. Mr. Sharan said in public participation process we are looking for affirmation and not contestation and the academic institutions must focus on teaching about listening. Mr. Bandyopadhyay shared his experiences from various projects across the country, where laxities and gaps stress the need for regional level spatial planning. Ms. Das shared her experiences, which emphasize the role and importance of the planning profession that centres on technical skills, ethical values and accountability.

An open forum discussion in fish bowl format was held to discuss the above topic. Some of the suggestions obtained from the discussion are:

  • Transform the conventional approach in academia to recognise relevant areas and the hierarchy of the planning profession. Academia shall improve the understanding of students about resource management, consultative and participative approaches and economic drivers 

  • Spatial Plans shall be comprehensive and build synergies between various sectoral plans 

In the concluding session, Mr. Jahnsen highlighted that the enemy of spatial planning is the neglected area between two cities. Planning process shall consider the entire area of the country to be dealt at different levels.

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Presentation by Mr. Satinder Pal Singh, MoHUPA
Presentation by Mr. Georg Jahnsen, GIZ India
Presentation by Mr. V K Phatak, Independent Consultant
Presentation by Mr. Utpal Sharma, Nirma University
Presentation by Mr. Saswat Bandyopadhyay, CEPT
Presentation by Ms. Aparna Das, GIZ India