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Compact Cities: The way forward for Indian realty
Source: The Times of India Sep 10, 2013
"The urban population of India will increase by 75 per cent by 2030 and the top five cities of the country would be forced to accommodate almost 50 per cent of the urban population," says Ankur Pandhe, MD, Pandhe Group. With such growth in the urban population, clearly there is a need to introduce the concept of high-density land planning. In other words, plan for 'compact cities'.

The basic characteristics of 'compact cities' are that they have high residential and employment densities, mixed land use, contained urban development, strong urban infrastructure, multi-modal transportation, unitary control of planning for land development and sufficient government fiscal capacity to finance urban facilities and infrastructure. An uncontrolled rising urban population leads to a stress on the infrastructure, wastage of land in unplanned growth and an increase in slum population.

Commenting on how to create compact cities, Pandhe says, "To be able to create efficient compact cities in India, we need to plan and deploy tenets of compact city for urban development. If India plans its land use properly, it can easily save about 6.2 million hectares of land by 2030. This can be achieved by having a clear vision, social economic focus, Infrastructure and social planning and an integrated land use pattern."

Today, the country faces issues relating to political will, lack of implementation of master plans and lack of demarcated power in the hands of administrative and financial executives. However, focusing on the most important requirements of creating compact cities, Amitabh Kant, MD, DMIC says "India needs to work on 'Transit oriented development' and its public transportation system. It is the need of the hour to have cities that are compact, dense and vertical and cities that can recycle their waste and water." He added that answers to futuristic and sustainable habitats come from our neighbors in the east and there is a lot we can learn from countries like Singapore, China and Japan."

Thus, even with late realization, it is important that the larger cities focus on public transportation and the smaller cities implement compact cities from scratch and restrict urban sprawl to curb ecological degradation.

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