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Four zones, four land-use plans

In a bid to check unplanned growth and ease congestion in the heart of the city, Calcutta will be carved up into four zones with distinct land-use plans for each quarter.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has decided to revise the Land Use Development and Control Plan (LUDCP) for the city — the first such overhaul in a decade — to address the growing menace of indiscriminate construction activities and traffic chaos.

According to officials in the urban development department, instead of one integrated LUDCP followed now, four separate land-use plans will be prepared for the BBD Bag area (ward 45), Park Street area (ward 63), eastern part of the city (EM Bypass area) and the rest of the city.

“The proliferation of high-rises, malls, multiplexes and commercial complexes during the past 10 years has turned the city into a congested, concrete jungle. The time has come to check and control construction activities,” Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) chief executive officer P.R. Baviskar told Metro.

The CMDA has been appointed by the urban development department to prepare the zone-specific land-use plans based on satellite mapping of the city. According to the Town and Country Planning Act, all civic bodies must follow the LUDCP while sanctioning any building plan or granting permission for setting up industrial units. The existing LUDCP for the city was prepared in 1996.

“We will prepare the land-use plans after an on-the-spot survey based on the satellite map. We will also consult the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, other civic bodies, transport department, traffic police, the fire services department and private developers. Work will start soon and we expect to conclude the project in six months,” said director-adviser of CMDA Tushar Mitra.

Justifying the need for dedicated LUDCPs for different zones, CMDA officials said that while ward 63 is the most congested area in the city, the BBD Bag area has been declared a heritage zone. The Bypass area, again, has emerged a hotbed of real-estate activities, and “we need to prevent another concrete jungle”.

Experts have hailed the move to formulate zone-specific land-use plans. “The primary concern is traffic flow, both pedestrian and vehicular, and to achieve desired results, a to-and-fro motion from macro to micro levels is necessary and the three-dimensional aspect can’t be ignored,” observed architect and urban designer Partha Ranjan Das.

CMDA officials said 57 per cent of the total land in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area is already covered and the 43 per cent that is vacant includes wetlands, wastelands, canals, barren land, the dumping ground and parks. “We want to ensure that the share of actual vacant land won’t be less than 33 per cent,’’ they said.

The government is drawing up a separate plan for riverside land use, with 500 metres on either side of the Hooghly identified as restricted zone, where growth will be regulated.

Similar control is being planned for the EM Bypass, Kona Expressway, Barrackpore-Kalyani Expressway and Belghoria Expressway, with prior approval from CMDA essential to take up any project in these areas.

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