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Town Planning - Ribbon and Ring development

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Urban DevelopmentGovernance

 Towns existed many centuries before the Industrial revolution. The pre industrial towns were glorified villages in short for obvious reasons.  The degree of urbanization increases sharply as industrialization increases. Even with an inherent flaw in the urban mechanism as opposed to nature, the urban way of life has definite irresistible advantages. 

1.      Man is a social animal

2.      Economic drivers

3.      Easy access to goods and services

4.      Education and seat of learning

5.      Safety 

Development of a town without any future planning is called natural development of a town. Natural or unplanned growth is seldom desirable as any future rectification is prohibitively costly and undesirable. Even planned growth could be doomed even before it starts especially in a democracy with conflicting interests. It may be desirable to classify towns in to different categories of towns. 

  1. Seat of power State and national capitols
  2. Seat of learning
  3. Economic
  4. Industrial
  5. Other 

The Ribbon 

The Ribbon development is road centric. This is characterized by people tendency to build as near to the main road. Example is Kerala state. The whole state is a ribbon. The countryside in the entire state of Kerala is not visible to the major road users. The ribbon development though thought to be inferior, the Keralaits did not think so. It may be worth researching whether it is due to the Pramila Rajya in Kerala. It may not be an inferior concept at all!

The Bangalore ring road is witnessing the ribbon development phenomenon. 


silkboard's picture

Ribbon Development - visible

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Looks like you in a gyan sharing modd these days PSA sir.

Recently, I had read around Ribbon Development a bit. Seems like this is a key problem when dealing with urban sprawl. And Bangalore is a serious victim.

Classically speaking, Ribbon development refers to problem on the peripheries of growing cities around highways, and - extend the problem - arterial corridors.

Just take a look at satellite view of Airport-Varthur Road, Old Madras Road, and even Hosur Road till very recently (save for HSR layout) - dense development on the Ribbon, and either light or very chaotic development just half a mile away from the highways.

ramesh_mbabu's picture

Kerala - Ribbon or Scattered development?

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I think it is scattered development.

Historically the villages and even the old smaller towns were following scattered development. No concentrated residences like in villages of other states, where the houses and other facilities like markets/schools etc. are concentrated in the centre of villages with vast farm land around. Instead houses were kind of farm houses, with farm/paddy field around each house.

Social scientists and FMCG marketing people call it a vast single metro, even the recent urbanization follows the same trend. If one observe it, not a big single city, the population is more or less in the same range ( around a million each considering the urban agglomerations) with Kochi, Trivandrum, Calicut & Kannore leading in same order, rest of 10 district head quarters around 2 lakhs each, the remaining 50 odd municipal cities with a population range of 50k+ upto 2 lakhs.

To be frank, none of these are planned like most cities of rest of India, the planning lags the actual development by 2 decades atleast. Due to the scattered development probably it is less chaotic, consider all the major four agglomerations put into a single metro, it should have been the most chaotic city in India due to the land locked nature of the state.

Concentrated development has certain advantages, the core expertise can be marketed better. For eg: Benguluru does not require an introduction, ask for Trivandrum/Kochi/Calicut - none even knew about them until tourism potential was explored few years ago. I think Kerala follows a unique pattern in its Urbanization similar to its unique social development/chaos (based on how one view it). Only future will reveal the success/failure of the unique urbanization pattern followed by the state can be sustained.

One of my my friend in Coimbatore used to stay, the city consists of just 3 major Roads Avinashi Road, Trichy Road & Mettupalayam Road. Looking at Bangalore most of the development is around 12 major radial roads and around the recent ring roads. This explains how important the transport infrastructure is for a growing city and lack of an alternate public transport other than the road based one in Namma Benguluru. Hope Namma Metro/Suburban Trains will change this pattern.


SB_YPR's picture

Mysore Road as well

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Ribbon development is clearly visible along Mysore Road (SH-17) as well, particularly after the four-laning - commercial establishments have sprouted all along the highway, even outside the six major towns along it (Bidadi, Ramnagaram, Channapatna, Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatna). This, in turn not only leads to slow-moving traffic (due to cars exiting/entering the highway at frequent intervals) but also dangerous conditions for driving (illegal breaks in the median and people randomly crossing the road).

The NICE road, on the other hand, seems to be designed to prevent ribbon development (by constructing dedicated townships). This should not only reduce travel times but also make the road safer to drive on. Perhaps there should be some zoning laws along highways permitting only agriculture on the sides (outside city limits). Alas, the long stretches of sugarcane fields that used to line both sides of SH-17 beyond Maddur are becoming shorter and intermittent these days :-(


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