Urban settlements in India have experienced rapid population growth: the percentage of India’s population living in urban areas more than doubled from 14 per cent at the time of independence to 31.8 per cent in 20111. By 2051, India is expected to be considered an urban nation, with more than 50 per cent of the population living in urban areas.
As part of a series of efforts to ensure that urban development is equitable and sustainable, the Indian Government launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) in June 2015. The objective of AMRUT is to ensure that 500 selected cities have, among other things, universal coverage of water supply, substantial coverage in provision of sewerage facilities and ample facilities for non-motorized transport.
The tools for delivering coherent and sustainable urban development missions such as AMRUT are master plans/development plans. These allow for optimum land-use. Most Master/Development Plans are formulated for 20-year periods, in phases of five years for periodic review and revision.
The formulation of a master plan starts with base map preparation, existing land-use surveys, collection of the socio-economic data necessary for reviewing the existing situation and then proposing a future land-use plan. The most crucial information required is an accurate and updated base map of the planning area, showing roads and building layouts, spatial extent of development, information on the use of each parcel of land, etc.
Conventional mapping and data gathering mechanisms, however, cannot keep pace with rapid population growth and frenetic urban growth: these trends make it hard to track the spatial growth of towns/cities, land-use status and the status of the country’s physical infrastructure.
Advances in remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can expedite the Master Plan process through the integration of both spatial and attribute data. These systems enable detailed real-time monitoring, updating and assessment of elements such as the spatial growth of towns/ cities, land-use status, and physical infrastructure in anticipation of projected population growth. Preparation of base maps from Very High Resolution Satellite (VHRS) images and GIS technology can be a time- and cost-effective solution. The formulation of GIS-based Master/Development Plans is one of the key reforms under AMRUT. The reform was approved in October 2015 as a 100 per cent centrally-funded sub scheme.
The Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) has prepared and published the design and standards document for geo-database creation. Satellite images have been acquired in 17 States (185 towns), data processing has been completed in nine States (70 towns), Thematic Map Creation and Generation of Draft Maps have been completed in nine States (69 towns), and draft maps have been delivered in seven States (40 towns) for vetting and attribute database collection.