Focus on planned development

Planned development of cities and towns, we fairly know, is a tool to improve with focussed attention the design of land use, built environment with clean air, better sanitation and pure water, better roads, transportation, communications and utility distribution networks and host of allied issues which is taken care of, on a long term basis, by a Master Plan. In fact, a Master Plan is a multi-faceted dynamic document that has embedded in it, a conceptual layout for providing a guiding path for future growth and development . It cannot be on purely selective basis in that – those urban areas which cry for a planned development are left out which could fizzle out any gains from selected city or a town adjoining those centres. In other words, while the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has prepared Master Plans for the city of Jammu and two other towns, three other proposals of no less equal importance, receive no attention from the Housing and Urban Development Department. Those proposals continue to ‘rot’ in the official files and this phenomenon is there for quite unusual time. Such a non -serious attitude of the concerned authorities and planners towards the public welfare, their health and well being, better living conditions and more importantly towards maintaining sustainability standards which could fairly emanate from extension of a planned development programme via Master Plans of more towns and cities, looks untenable.
The concept and the importance of Zonal Development Plans, perhaps, appears alien and unfamiliar to the planners and the concerned authorities in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir since nothing of the sort is prepared . It is only the planning at the Zonal level which guides as to how objectives behind formation of a long term Master Plan could be obtained. The Jammu and Kashmir Development Act 1970 is clearly enumerating the importance of Zonal Development Plan which fall under the provisions of the Master Plan. As already said, doing the technical and planned exercise in piece meals or on selective basis, ignoring more or equally deserving adjoining towns, could be nothing except proving a bane in respect of a planned and balanced development. What about , therefore, other deserving towns in respect of a long term document barring the city of Jammu and the towns of Udhampur and Katra? How could their future growth and development be envisioned to strategise an action plan?
The need to promote comprehensive approaches to urban development through a balanced Master Plan prepared after extensive surveys and ground work, should be all en-compassing with a long vision which lasts over a stretched period. If years together are taken in according approvals of the Master Plans, as we saw in Jammu Master Plan, Udhampur and Katra Master Plans, it is left to sheer chance as to what fate was there in store for other towns and cities like Kathua, Rajouri, Ranso (Shiv Khori shrine) of the UT. The Master Plans of these towns have already been prepared and said to have been submitted too for approval to the Housing and Urban Development Department but are not made to move out from the official files. The climax, on the other hand, is that even after a wide gap of the period of years between preparation of and according approval to Master Plans of Jammu, Udhampur and Katra, Zonal plans are nowhere in the ”listed” priorities of the said Department .
Half baked approaches to issues of such importance where urban planning has assumed tremendous importance looking to fast urbanisation, congestion, unplanned clusters of houses and buildings, insufficient infrastructure of roads, communication etc coupled with unhealthy air to breathe and portable water problems and the like, could boomerang with threatening proportions which calls for a planned development of all towns. Are the concerned authorities listening, now to act ?