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Bangalore and Ribbon Development

Ribbon Development

Classic definition of Ribbon Development is building houses and businesses along the roads radiating from a town. Dictionary definition of the term is "building complex in a continuous row along a road". The term comes from observations in the west in early 20th century when personal automobiles made it possible for people to live far from the city, and many chose to build houses next to the radial highways leading in to the city.

Bangalore context

In Bangalore's context, the Ribbon Development phenomena is see in similar and different ways.

  • Most large residential and commercial complexes come up on these radial and ring roads.
  • On the periphery of the city, local government's investment into road, pedestrian infrastructure drops drastically as you go away from the radial and ring roads.

People want to live where good roads are. And developers don't want to spend resources to build access road to their properties. When good new roads are built, or existing radial roads get a facelift in the peripheral areas of the town, commensurate investment is not made to improve access and transportation infrastructure beyond the "Ribbon" area adjoining the radial or ring road. This causes crowded development in the Ribbon area, and brings about following types of problems

  • Radial roads see a lot of short distance local traffic. This mixes up with mid/long distance traffic for whom the road was upgraded or built in the first place. This leads to local area congestion.
  • In cases where residences are too close to the radial roads, there would be an increase in number of road accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles going in and out of houses and sometimes going in the wrong direction as they find it hard to cross the major roads.
  • Real estate close to these radial roads commands significant premium over those that are situated beyond the Ribbon Area. Unrealistically high real estate prices mean increased tendency to break byelaws and development norms to squeeze as much built up area as possible in property holdings.


Newly expanded City of Bangalore has not yet devised any effective and strategic means of dealing with Ribbon Development. The fact that development area adjoining the radial roads was not managed by the city not so long ago (Greater Bangalore was created only recently when adjoining CMCs in Bangalore Rural area were merged with the city) makes the job harder.

Building service roads is one pro-active way of dealing with the problem. Outer Ring Road has service roads, and new development has happened on the service roads thus solving at least one problem of keeping ultra-local distance traffic and pedestrians safe from the main road traffic.

Service road can also be used to control access to the major roads. Small roads joining the major road would merge with the service road first, and the service road will provide access to the major road only at regular but longer intervals.

Guidelines to control Ribbon Development around National Highways

[TBD - this should be moved to a separate gyan page]

Union Ministry of shipping and transport has certain guidelines to control Ribbon Development around national highways.

1. Ribbon Development along arterial highways has become an acute problem near developing towns. This is further accentuated by uncontrolled proliferation of access points to the highway. In some of the congested towns along National Highway where ribbon development has already taken place bye passes have been provided but unless adequate measure are taken to prevent recurrence of ribbon development, no lasting solution is possible. Some of the measures, which should be given immediate consideration to control further deteoriation of the situation, are:

  • Provision of adequate land width for future development.
  • Provision for service road for traffic, which is purely local in character.
  • Control of access.
  • Control of building activities.
  • Control of roadside advertisement.
  • Prevention of encroachments and their speedy removal.

2. Access to arterial highways should be restricted to predetermined points and in urban and industrial areas this should be done by constructing parallel service roads on either side. The necessary land for the service road should be acquired simultaneously with the acquisition of land for the highway proper. The general requirement of land width for highways is indicated in table-1 below:

Class of Roads

Land width in Meter


Plain & rolling country

Mountainous & Steep Terrain


Rural Area

Urban areas

Rural Area

Urban areas


Normal Range

Normal range

Normal Exceptional Normal Exceptional
National Highways & State Highways 45 30-60 30 30-60 24 18 20 18
Major District Road 25 25-30 20 15-25 18 15 15 12
Other District Road 15 15-25 15 15-20 15 12 12 9
Village Road 12 12-18 10 10-15 9 9 9 9

Parallel service roads for 2 way traffic should be planned as an essential part of any scheme for erecting buildings and factories on the land abutting the highway and provision for these made in the layout from the very beginning. In this connection, I am to bring to your notice the recommendations of the Transport Development Council of its fourth meeting held in April 1963 which are as below:

" The Council recommends that parallel service roads should be constructed in factory areas along with side the National and State Highways to avoid congestion on these Highways. The State Govt. could ensure compliance with this requirement by stipulating a suitable condition at the time of granting permission to the setting of factories and other building.’

3. As service roads are intended to meet mainly local traffic needs, these could be constructed by the concerned Road Authority who can, if they so desire consider and examine possibility of charging some fee from the owners of the factories/buildings to recoup the cost by adopting some suitable necessary procedure as admissible. In case of the suitable urban links on Nation Highways through towns having populations of 20000 or more, the Central Govt. would discharge the responsibilities conforming the scheme vide this letter No.NHIII/P/16/76, dated 17th May 1976 and to the consequent agreement

    1. In urban areas the spacing of access to Arterial highways should wherever possible be restricted to 500 metre interval. If an highways is likely to be developed as Express way/Motor way the spacing should be 1000 metres.
    2. In rural area spacing of corrections from parallel service roads and of inter section should not be closed than 750m. Individual driveways to private properties other than petrol pumps should not be spaced closer than 300 metre from each other or from an intersection. Regarding petrol pumps practice recommended in IRC 12 & 13 should be followed. On highways with dual carriageway median openings should generally be limited to intersection with public roads and should not be permitted for individual business needs. Where intersections are a far apart, median openings may be provided at intervals of 2 Km. For permitting Urban and diversion of traffic to one of the carriage ways at times of emergency or major repairs.
    3. A reference may be made to IRC: 62-1976 – Guidelines for Control of Access on Highways for general guidance in the situations.
    4. Designs of all access points should conform to the minimum geometric standards required for safety at the particular location and adequate warning should be provided through Road Signs and Markings.
    5. Prior permission of the Ministry should be obtained before permitting new access points on National Highways other than those provided in accordance with policy mentioned above.
    1. In order to prevent overcrowding and preserve sufficient space for future road improvement, it is desirable to any down restrictions to regulate building activities along arterial highways. Such measures will help in securing adequate sight distance and preserve the aesthetic value of the highway besides ensuring free flow of traffic. It is desirable that within a prescribed distance from the highway no building activity is allowed. As undertaken. This distance from road is defined by a hypothetical line called the Building line. Beyond this line it is desirable that buildings of height exceeding 13 metres above road level are not built for a further distance defined by what are called ‘Control Lines’. The minimum desirable standard for ‘Building Lines’ and ‘Control Lines’ for various types of roads are given in table 2 below:


Class of roads

Plain & Rolling


Mountainous & Steep


Rural Areas

Urban & Industrial Areas

Distance between Building Line and Road Line boundaries

  Width between Building Lines (overall width)


Width between Control Lines (overall width)


Distance between Building line and Road line boundary (set back distance (metres)

Rural Areas

Urban Areas

        Normal (metres) Exceptional (metres) Normal (metres) Exceptional (metres)
National Highways & State Highways 80 150 3-6 5 3 5 3
Major District Road 50 100 3 5 3 5 3
Other District Road 25/30* 35 -- 5 3 5 3
Village Road 25 30 -- 5 3 5 3

If the land width is equal to the width between building lines indicated in this column the building lines shall be set back 2.5 metres from the road land and boundary lines.
Generally the building and control lines would be symmetrical about the roadway. These should be strictly enforced by State Govt. along all National Highways / Strategic Roads while approving schemes of development and specifying land use. Necessary legislation to enforce these, where required, may also be enacted.

    1. We structure of any kind, say the ones required for the development and operation of the highway on these for which the State’s have been authorized separately should be permitted to be built up on National Highway required land without the prior approval of the Ministry.
    1. Erection of hoarding, advertisements boards, statues etc. are a source of distraction and cause of accidents on highways and should not be permitted on National Highway land. Only signs and notices of the types mentioned in para 3.3 of the IRC:46-1972 ‘A Policy on Roadside Advertisements’ may be permitted if they do not interfere with visibility along the Highway and are at least 100m from any road junction, bridges or another crossing. The general considerations given in the above mention IRC policy should be kept in view.
    1. It is noticed that a number of encroachments have developed in the past on arterial highways. It is essential that urgent action is taken to remove all the existing encroachments expeditiously so as to eliminate nuisance and ensure safe and free flow of traffic. Ministry of Las has advised that any on all of the following methods may be used to remove encroachments on highways.

1) Action be taken under section 133 of the Criminal procedure code. In order to bring the case under section 133, the prosecution has to prove that the land in question is either a public way or a public place.

2) Encroachment upon a public road is an obstruction to the public path, it is a nuisance in itself under section 119 of the Indian Penal Code. No argument by a user can justify an encroachment upon a public way. The question of sufficient width the road being left in support of the encroachment for public use is no ground of the encroachment or obstruction to continue. It is the duty of the Magistrate to come to a finding whether the claim of the person complaining of such encroachment is bonafide or not. The question of possession is relevant for this purpose.

3) Criminal proceedings may be initiated against the wrong doer under the various provision of Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and such of the Police Act’s as an applicable to Central Subjects like National Highways which are a Union subject under the Constitution.

    1. Section 291 of the Indian Penal Code punishes a person continuing a nuisance after he is joined by a public servant not to repeat or continue it. Sections 142 and 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empower a Magistrate to forbid an act causing a public nuisance. The Civil procedure Code also empowers a court to issue temporary junction. To be able to expedite removal of encroachments each P.W.D. Divisions must prepare accurate land maps and keep them handy for checking and for producing in evidence.

SOURCE :- Government of India Ministry of Shipping and Transport (Roads Wing) NO.NI III/P/72/76 New Delhi the 13th Jan. 1977.


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