The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 16 , 2014
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Realty hopes hit delay wall
Master plan eludes residents

Residents yearning to catch a glimpse of the master plan for the city have to wait longer, forget about the implementation part.

On June 16, the newly appointed urban development and housing minister, Samrat Chaudhary, alias Rakesh Kumar, had announced that the much-delayed master plan for the city would be put on public domain by July 15. But a reality check of the site disappointed residents, as there was no sign of the plan. The minister could not keep his word.

Sources claimed that it was likely to take one more month to finalise the documents related to the plan.

Minister Chaudhary was unavailable for comment on the reason behind the delay in the master plan but sources attributed it to the frequent change in guard in the department.

“The entire process restarts almost from scratch with the transfer of secretary or change of minister. The master plan is a voluminous document comprising over 300 pages and numerous maps. Naturally, it takes a new officer a couple of weeks just to understand it completely. Every new secretary or minister comes with a different viewpoint on the master plan and making the changes involve a cumbersome exercise. It has almost been like a vicious cycle,” said an official of the urban development and housing department.

The last master plan for Patna (1961-1981) expired 33 years ago. Though a plan was prepared for the period of 1981-2001, it did not have the formal approval of the state government.

Later, a Calcutta-based firm was appointed to chalk out the master plan for the city in 2001. But the contract of the firm was scrapped in 2006.

In February, 2011, the urban development and housing department entrusted the Center for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad, with the task of undertaking survey and providing technical assistance for the preparation of the draft master plan for Patna.

Since then, the transfer of secretary/principal secretaries and even change of minister has been plaguing the process.

Realtors in the city have claimed that such laxity in policy decisions would act as a bottleneck in construction activities in Bihar despite the Centre having relaxed the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in the construction sector.

“The master plan and building byelaws are acting as big bottlenecks in the city’s construction sector. There is a huge potential in the real estate sector in and around Patna but big construction firms from outside the state are not keen on entering the market here, mostly owing to lack of construction-related norms, including the master plan. We have been in touch with many big firms in Calcutta, Delhi-NCR and Bangalore but none of them is ready to invest here owing to the absence of the master plan,” said Sachin Chandra, chairman, Bihar chapter, Builders’ Association of India.

According to the draft of the master plan being finalised by CEPT, the proposed Patna Metropolitan Region (PMR) would incorporate Bihta, Danapur, Khagaul, Daniyawan, Danaura, Fatuha, Khusraupur, Maner, Masaurhi, Naubatpur, Patna rural, Phulwari, Punpun and Sampatchak blocks. Against the existing city area in the capital spread over around 250sqkm, the proposed master plan envisages the PMR to spread across 1,144sqkm approximately.

Sixty per cent of the notified planning area (around 600sqkm) has been earmarked as urban area in the proposed master plan, while the remaining 40 per cent or 400sqkm would be left as green or open space.

The plan divides the proposed PMR into seven zones — residential, commercial, mixed land use, industrial, public semi-public uses, urban agriculture zones and no-development zones.

Around 16.17 per cent of total area or around 90sqkm in the PMR is proposed to be utilised for developing road network. Roads have been proposed to be of five different widths — 60m, 45m, 30m, 24m and 15m. The development permitted along each of these roads would depend on the floor space index assigned to different plot sizes in different zones.