Bengaluru, December, 07, 2017
– The idea of making Indian cities utopian is like dream come true for the citizens. However, reaching that particular objective requires manifold levels of planning, on-ground implementation, involvement and regular upkeep by all the stakeholders involved. With Bengaluru’s population set to double to 18.9 million and the vehicular population to triple in next 15 years, Bengaluru is in dire need of a solution.
One of the small initiatives towards Bengaluru’s utopian dream is the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy, which has been incorporated in the Bengaluru Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2031, and is out for public scrutiny. TOD integrates the concept of walk- to-work or increased pedestrianization, last mile connectivity with high densities in a radius of 500-800m around transit stations/terminals/corridors.
Cities like Montreal, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, and Hong Kong have largely benefitted from this kind of urban development. A densely populated city, like Hong Kong, has minimum car ownership ratio and public transport is the most preferred way of commuting. Earlier, in Hong Kong, the railway system was not built until the area was well-developed. However, recently, they have opted for the TOD model in areas like Union Square and Olympian City, where a railway system has been built simultaneously with residential development above or nearby. In the Indian context, TOD has been implemented in Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Naya Raipur, of which Ahmedabad is one good example.
“Urban centers are complex systems with multiple layers of transportation, utilities, real estate and communities intricately interwoven together. TOD works on the principle that we build compact cities to maximize ridership by ensuring there is a dense catchment next to the stations and people are encouraged to use the system. The recently released RMP 2031 has one paragraph reference to TOD, which is like a tick in the box that achieves little. The need of the hour is that all stakeholders should come together and work with the government to formulate a policy in order to develop not just a smart city but also a livable city; irrespective of its ‘TODness’ quotient. And importantly, one that can be implemented” says Amit Oberoi, National Director, Knowledge Systems, Colliers International India.
RMP 2031, notifies 150m radius around metro stations/terminals as TOD influence zones, where an FSI of 4 is permissible. The TOD is proposed only in Zone B that includes areas outside the Outer Ring Road (ORR) to the conurbation area. Although, it does not include Zone A, which is the developed area of Bengaluru, and is struggling with basic infrastructure needs. As per Colliers Research, implementing TOD in the developing areas may be the right approach as it is easy to do so. Also, ORR and Whitefield contribute 78% of Grade A office stock of Bengaluru, which will further help the commercial market to boost. However, the influence zone of 150m seems to be very minuscule and may not deliver the desired output.
According to Colliers Research, there is not just one way of moving forward to achieve the utopian goal. Permutation combination of many concepts should be implemented along with complete involvement of the stakeholders from government bodies to private players.
To expedite the implementation of the policy, we believe various solutions can be incorporated. Some of them include:
- To implement TOD; smaller pockets with similar characteristics could be identified and a detailed plan of action can be prepared and implemented at the same time integrating with the city’s infrastructure development
- More town pooling tools such as land pooling or town planning schemes can be incorporated in the developing zones where vacant land parcels are available to avoid the haphazard development which is the notable type of development in Bengaluru
- Developers could be encouraged to develop 200-300m around their projects, such as pedestrian footpaths, road repairs, etc. in sync with government bodies in order to relieve the pressure on government bodies
- The government can identify and invest in developing probable catchment areas in the state. This would relieve the pressure out of Bengaluru
- Common card systems should be introduced that can be used in metro, bus as well as taxi. This will increase the ease of travel
TOD and mixed-use development are inherent characteristics in Indian cities. Instead of dreaming for a utopian concept based upon international cases, concerned stakeholders should operate with the tools in hand to come up with innovative ideas best suited in the Indian context.
About Colliers International Group Inc.
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