The issues facing urban centers in developing countries are enormous; the consequences of rapid growth, underdeveloped infrastructure capacity, severe poverty, socio-economic inequality, need for affordable housing, resource scarcity, corrupt urban governance, lack of regulatory framework and continuing rural-urban migration are all impending and dire. The need for good comprehensive plans, well integrated development guidelines and management is urgent and the opportunity it opens for work in the public domain is challenging and exciting.
It is of concern that while pressures of growth in Indian urban centers are leading to fast paced developments that are changing the face of the cities at a rapid rate, the quality of the urban environment is diminishing due to the lack of proper policy and development frameworks. It is important to note that the last development plan for Mumbai was prepared in the year 1981 and adopted 13 years later in 1994. A new development plan 18 years later has only now begun development. This lack of planning has resulted in growth that has been adhoc and piecemeal mostly responding to narrow private interests with no consideration for the public realm elements like good streetscapes, consistent block sizes, regulated street walls, well defined sidewalks and well developed open spaces. Large land agglomerations are destroying the existing city fabric and resulting in more and more gated communities, leading to a democratic cityscape turning into a composition of private enclaves. Comprehensive planning and regulations which integrate good urban design principles have been lacking to say the least. Development of integrated progressive plans which promote good urban design principals and help define a physical urban environment which is democratic, enriching, aesthetic and enjoyable is critical in this environment.
It is disconcerting to see that while inequity is the most pressing social issue in this part of the world, the...
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