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A Radical town planning approach, advantages and disadvantages

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There is a need to have some changes in the current thinking, as far as the town planning aspects of cities like Bangalore are concerned. Sustainability and the Global Environment are gaining more and more attention due to increasing human population upsetting a natural ecological balance. It may not be inappropriate to set a good example of a radical town planning concept, for the future generation, before it is too late. 

What is town planning? 

Town planning is the science of planning the cities which are basically non agro based, in nature. It involves comprehensive planning aspects of the physical and social development of a town, city or a mega city. A village on the other hand is agro based requiring large tracts of land for growing food. With the Industrial Revolution People were till now blissfully unaware of the inadvertent adverse effects on the environment. However a time has come for taking stock of the situation. 

Kalidasa, a well known name in Indian Context had a humble beginning. 

He was once seen to cut a branch of a tree on which he was sitting at the wrong side! Tis story perhaps puts the current malady in a proper perspective. 

The Traffic hassles faced by the Bangalore Praja are well known. This is borne out by the fact that traffic issues get maximum attention on the Praja site. Let us try to put various issues getting attention on the site: 

  1. Traffic
  2. Taxation
  3. Decongestion
  4. Health
  5. Public Hygiene
  6. Civic Amenities
  7. Public Toilet
  8. Public Transport
  9. Travel
  10. Water Borne Disease 

(My one paisa on: It may be a good idea to introduce tracking the indices used on the praja site) 

In this thread I would like to evoke some radical thinking in this direction. 


psaram42's picture

The Radical Design approach for a future Bangalore

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 Let us try to enumerate the major design criteria:- 

  1. Limited cosmetic Smooth ground level Vehicular traffic
  2. Only Foot paths and cycling tracks at ground level.
  3. Increasing on ground Population Density with nearness to under ground Metro.
  4. Under ground Metro based commutation
  5. Primary Exclusive Under ground Rectangular non crossing multi level Metro Grid
  6. Secondary Rectangular Metro grid at 45 degrees to cater for better accessibility with increasing city extent
  7. RWH compatible community town planning concept (To be separately dealt later)
  8. Etc 

The above are simple but radical concepts. These are presented as a food for thought for the kind concideration of "Praja". 

RKCHARI's picture

My Two paise Bit on Radical Town Planning

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I also suggest some thought be put on Green Building concepts including roof gardens and solar window screens which would reduce room temperatures considerably and have a cascading effect on use of electricity for airconditioning.

With trees being gobbled up almost by the hour, the only option to building a sustainable city would be to emphasise on roof gardens and abundant foliage on balconies. Technology improvements have ensured an ecologically sustainable roof and frontage of buildings without fear of water seepages etc can be built.

Wonder if praja members would support some form of self mandated code amongst builders to ensure landscaping gated complexes or multistoried buildings is not limited to swimming pools / club houses and a small children's play area alone.

I am sure most of you have seen the sad looking concrete jungle that Purvankara Reviera and Rohan Vasantha groups of apartments enroute to Marathahalli from Whitefield have sprung up. Can you imagine if each balcony had a luscious green foliage hanging over them, how much more pleasing the entire expanse will look?

Would such concepts apply to radical town planning?



sarvagna's picture

I think the best way for

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I think the best way for India is identify new plots of land for completly new cities and plan the developments properly keeping even the smallest of smallest things in mind.

Lease the township plans to real estate guys to completly develop the facilities and allowe them a percentage of the land developed.

i don't see any other way where we can make our cities look even close to the looks of the other cities of the developed countries.

sanjayv's picture

Needs strong political will - period

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I think the solution for all of this is to change the politics in the country.  For Bangalore to transofrm, there is a need for some strong, possibly radical decisions; an ability to stand up to vested interests, an ability to formulate a plan and stick to it, and the use of engineering and technology (not just IT).

None of this is possible in the current frame-work as has been demonstrated time and again.

RKCHARI's picture

Baby Steps

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I think there is no need to despair. Let us take baby steps in small ways and make significant changes. We cannot become Singapore in a month of Sundays - but let us strive to become unique Bengaluru in our own way.

The mindset has to change, but not of Politicians and Bureaucrats alone. We the citizens need to change our own mind set - right from urinating in public places, to spitting on roads to rash driving and dumping garbage just outside your neighbour's home, to building unsustainable buildings etc.

It is possible Sirs if we only harnbess the tremendous intelligence we all possess!

My two penny worth!


srkulhalli's picture

Whats so radical about it

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Though I am not a town planning guy, there is nothing new that is formulated here.  Metro grid along highly dense popluation corridors is basic stuff - has been implemented in so many places. Pedestrian and cycle tracks - tons and tons of material on it

Its far easier to start with an empty strech of land. Can somebody come up with cost-effective solutions which will work in Bangalore ? Metro grid of that density will result in 50/100 thousand crores - where would you get that kind of money

Sanjayvv- there is always a tendency to say everything is terrible. I still have a decent life and things are not so bad. Each has its problems. None of my aged relatives want to travel to US "again" because they get stuck in the house - its easier to live without legs than without a car. They "like" the lifestyle here. And yet we mentally  always compare to the US of A- I remember PSA comment - mexican slums in the US are better than Indirangar.

To improve, in addition to what you suggest, there is the most critical piece which you miss. High calibre people - I mean excellent technical and techno-managerial skills - that is missing


sanjayv's picture

everything is terrible...

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 @ Suhas:

Personally, I  don't want to continue a philosophical discussion too much here, but do want to respond to your comment.

I did not say that everything is terrible, nor did I compare to the US of A in my post, if you notice.  My comment is that most of our systems are broken, which is a fact.  If we do not see that, then we are in denial.

Your comment on  having a "decent life"  -  My response -  Tomorrow, if I am in a serious accident on the road, chances of quick, effective treatment are low. Bribing is the order of the day and avoiding bribing means it is the hard way (again from personal experience).  The spinach in my dinner tonight could have been grown near Bellandur or Varthur lakes with high levels of metals and other contamination it it.  The water tanker supply augmenting/replacing Cauvery water in my apartment could again be contaminated with all kinds of chemicals.  I have stood and watched helplessly while a loved one gasps for breath as the improperly regulated pollution aggravates that person's asthma.  And I have to renew the "pollution under control" certificate in my car, which has a very well tuned engine, every six months! Ironic! Very few examples here and I will stop at that. I am sorry for this rant, but by my definition, this is not a decent life.  Yes, if I choose to ignore all of this, my life is not bad and I am certainly much luckier than millions of others who suffer order of magnitudes more.

My point is simply this - the solutions to solve almost all these problems are there in this country.  Technical and techno-managerial skills are maybe low, but what is the incentive to develop them?  How much technology is really applied in life? I think the IT sector has decent technical and techno managerial skills - where did that come from?  The system developing these skills (educational) is also broken.

All measures, metrics, plans, tracking are all fine and good.  But to really solve the big problem, our political systems and structures have to be fixed.  That is the only hope to drive the sort of changes required for a Bangalore (and Karnataka and India) of PSA sir's and our vision.  No guarantees, but the only approach I think that stands a chance.

blrpraj's picture

greatest tragedy - post liberalization Bangalore

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The greatest tradegy that has befallen Bangalore (and all other cities)  in the last 2 decades after liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s is land use and development in an indiscriminate and haphazard manner. Town planning, radical or not has always existed and I am sure existed before the economic liberalisation of the early 1990s, which(the liberalisation) only accelerated the worsening situation in Bangalore. What better testament to this fact than Jayanagar which according to elders was beautiful 25 to 30 years ago. The Jayanagar today is a far cry from that beautiful Jayanagar due to - indiscriminate commercialization of residential buildings; the age old methodology of builder buying up indepentent houses only to convert them to high rise flats (this is happening all accross bangalore) without giving a thought to the supporting infrastructure like roads, water and electricity. I would not be surprised if we dust the covers of some old town planning books & legal books that prohibit both the issues I have highlighted. In a nutshell, radical town planning may not be the only answer; we need a radical way of implementing & enforcing what has been planned too. Another example of land use violation that I have seen in Jayanagar - I saw that a house had 2 floors above it, one whole floor was converted to conduct dance and music classes exclusively; the result was that you could hear loud music well into the night till perhaps 10.00pm AND added to this the neighbours have to deal with parked vehicles and increased traffic.  There may be a rule that perhaps actually allows this but shouldn't that rule go away since such a dance/music institute is cause of disturbance in a residential locality putting a strain on parking & other resources?

Vasanth's picture

Plusses and Minuses both in US and in India

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I feel there are plusses and minuses everywhere.

Plusses of US :

1. Law and Order - Very few places (Metros like Chicago, NY, Sanfrancisco, NJ) have the crimes most. People obey rules, respect Law as well as Policeman - Main reason - Sueing System and very hefty fines all the way.

India, Politicians write the laws and amend the laws as per their requirement to protect themselves as well as their homegrown 'Goondas'.

Fines are less, no respect among individuals and everyone ready to pull each other's leg not allowing anyone to grow up.

Police on the other hand work on a 'WIFY' or what is there for you concept. They should work without politicians control even having the power to arrest the CM of a state. A PC should be able to fine the CM of the state.

2. Infrastructure - US is a rich country compared to India and can afford for Freeways with Cars being driven by each and every individual. PTs are so expensive, driving cars are lot more cheaper. Availability of PT system is very limited. I was not knowing car driving properly when I first visited US and I lived a miserable life being dependent on others without PT and Taxis being very expensive. Totally Car Dependent.

India is on the other side, PT should be affordable by everyone and accessible everywhere, so  quality compared to Foreign Countries cannot be expected. But, I feel we are now on par with our Volvos being much better than the buses I have travelled in NY and NJ.

India is not addicted to car. People nowadays in cities like Bangalore say more about this..

Who is Greener?

But, India is much more energy efficient I should say. We don't waste the amount of paper wasted in the US and the amount of Green Gas Emissions. Our Emissions are mainly due to improper vehicle maintenance and poor fuel quality.

3. Population Density - Population Density is evenly spread across US compared to India where it is highly concentrated  in Metros.

Government should build good connectivity, and infrastructure in tier 2 cities and offer tax rebates for opening IT operations as well as call centres and other businesses.


Vasanth's picture

The Radical Design approach - BRT is the major requirement.

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PSRAM sir, Metro is not a sustainable transport. Underground Metro is too expensive to afford even for the richest of the richest countries.

That is why a sustainable transport like BRT should be built before designing a future Bangalore. Cost will be 1/60th of an Elevated Metro System and nearly 1/100th of an underground Metro. For example, if we consider Bangalore Metro which is 7,500 crores, we can buy nearly 75000 buses at 10 lakhs per bus and nearly  10,000 volvo buses itself at 75 lakh per each bus.

That is why cities like Curitiba is considered as Model city by every traffic planner. Even cities like Copenhagen where cycling is more preferred is considered a Model City Most of the population live in suburbs and travel to city mainly by Suburban trains. Within the city they take cycling or Metro Rail. Wherever car enters Metro cities easily, it mostly results in congestion. So smooth traffic with high density as you posted is inversely proportional.

psaram42's picture

Radical Fantacy

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 Hi Suhas 

1.       Kindly have a look at my post “A threat from within”. Estimates of the order of money involved in fake currency is 1, 69,000 crores. Your figure of 50 – 1, 00,000 crores is probably near to that figure. However my current post is only a fantasy.

2.       Any design is valid only for the assumptions made. There is no point in keeping altering ones dress to a blooming body. Your efforts of tem-plating road design are commendable. However it will work for a while till the traffic density or other design parameters reach their limits.

3.       The post is about fantasizing a dream green city starting with a clean slate.

4.       Once we establish the fundamentals of the dream it could be fine honed

5.       The idea is to ideate with a clean slate to start with

6.       The population density at ground of course should be planned to be proportional to the distance to metro etc. I routine concept. We can improve here perhaps.

7.       Other Town planning concepts will be valid in general but with a questioning mind.

8.       Extra design parameter for Population Density will depend upon RWH requirements

I intend to illustrate graphically at a later date the following picture for us to visualize a rough graphical picture of what the dream is all about, like this:-

1.       At ground level

a.       Only Greenery residences, offices and the like.

b.       No roads for vehicular traffic

c.        Only foot paths and cycle tracts

2.       Under ground Rectangular grid net work of metros, with no crossings

a.       Level 1 north south

b.       Level 2 East West

c.        Level 3 North-East to South- West

d.       Level 4 North-West to South-East

The above is a broad clarification in response to the objections raised in your comment. 


RKCHARI's picture

True life fantacy!

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Most of what you dream of already exists in cities like London, San Francisco, Sydney, Singapore and few leading cities in Europe!

London Metro is legendary in its efficiency and superbly planned layout with different levels criss-crossing the entire length and breadth of the city;

Sydney is totally Green in most parts except the CBD

Although no city exists without roads for transportation (only cycle paths and foot paths), most developed cities do have dedicated lanes for these modes of transport.

What underlies most importantly in all these cities is a tremendous civic sense. even indian who go and live there or are on short holiday visits have an innate sense of civilised behaviour. Why is it that one never sees an indian man urinating in london or Singapore? Fear of the local laws or an innate sense of falling in line with the norm? So we can be made to fall in line if only India had a collective sense of behaviour which I can only call as "educated behaviour".

Should not our fantacy dreams start at that point?



psaram42's picture

I find myself in an advantageous position!

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 I have not visited many of the cities which you have alluded in your comment TRUE LIFE FANTACY! I find myself to be in an advantages position in the current fantasizing exercise. 

However you do mention:- 

“Although no city exists without roads for transportation (only cycle paths and foot paths), most developed cities do have dedicated lanes for these modes of transport.” 

Not having any roads and motor cars on ground level is a fantasy which may not exist except in dense forests as of date.  Apart from the comparison made by you, let us go further in looking at other town planning concepts too. These too can be fantasized like:- 

  1. Only IT industries like Infosys could find a place inside the city.
  2. No Environmentally unfriendly Industries to be allowed inside the city
  3. Some far reaching regulations in the city like:-
    1. Big chunk of Land exclusively to IT like clean Industries on lease.
    2. The Industry should have all employees living on campus with their families in leased apartments / Villas.
    3. Both husband and wife should be employed in the same campus
    4. Children’s schools too on campus.
    5. When Employees leave the company they simply move out with bag and baggage vacating their company quarters.
    6. Etc
  4. Separate Interspersed Private Residential communities
  5. Optimally distributed / Interspersed amusement parks, theaters, malls along metro station location lines.
  6. etc



RKCHARI's picture

PSA Sounds something like

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Sounds something like Michael Jackson's Never Land for adults!

Although this does sound idyllic the only point I wish to make is to mention that we tend to blame polluting industries for almost all our ills in environment. A lot of polluting industries actually do produce goods and services which are essential to us. What they dont do is to manage their effluents efficiently. Conniving regulatory authority members almost literally goad them to stay polluting because that is a source of regular income for them.

I second your concept of Infosys campus like townships within cities with self sufficient communities.

Taking your fantasy land a little further, would it not be wonderful if every city had a number of libraries rather than cinema halls? A number of green parks instead of bus depots? Hospitals located amodst valleys and dales instead of just off airports? Schools with abundant playgrounds instead of concrete multi-storied buildings? etc etc...



psaram42's picture

These are not an idyllic thoughts session, Brain storming, yes

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Please be rest assured that this thread is not just an idyllic rambling. Praja is contributing some very good ideas by way of brain storming. Each one of us has a bias and we tend to gravitate towards those. Polluting industries sounds good to some for the very fact that they are polluting. They provide work for those who have solutions to offer. I am not for discounting such solutions for a moment, though. 

How did you get the idea that we are not for libraries etc?  We can add all those like fine arts movie theaters play grounds big forests and all. All that we can leave it to the best judgment of top futuristic town planning experts. 

I was just trying to ideate with no inhibitions at all.


shas3n's picture


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I think speaking of sustainable cities, Masdar is one useful reference that is a 'must-mention' on this thread.

I have been involved in some aspects of the city design and thought would share a few design features.

[The website ( is hard to navigate but one visit the site to see some images of the town if interested.]

  • Masdar aims to be a zero carbon city. There will be a net negative carbon output and once the city become operational which will compensate for the carbon emission during the construction.
  • It uses renewable energy sources, especially solar energy and wind to a lower extant.
  • It is a no-car city. Most transportation within the city will happen through walking, cycling and public transportation.
  • The city will have houses, offices, technology industries, public amenities, hotel etc.
  • City will be connected to nearest airport (Abu Dhabi) via a metro train link.
  • There is a high emphasis on energy efficiency, use of natural resources, recycling and green technologies.

I find this exciting and I sincerely hope this shows us that sustainable cities are indeed possible.


idontspam's picture


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I have been involved in some aspects of the city design and thought would share a few design features.

 This is nice to hear. I saw a scale model of the same in Humlebæk, Denmark last month and was impressed. The exhibition should still be on at Louisiana if I remember right. The best part is they find ways to execute and put it up on the ground.

shas3n's picture


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I too am happy to see that some has found a way to execute this and make it a reality.

Based on my understanding, it is not terribly hard to design something like this. But what kills is the cost.

Electricity from solar, solar absorption cooling, recycling, electric vehicles, everything is costlier than their conventional alternative.

I have no doubt that ecologically sustainable cities can be realised. But for them to be also economically sustainable, we have still a long way to go.



psaram42's picture

High Time we saw the literature

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 Thanks Shastri and IDS. It is high time we saw the literature. I was postponing the armchair travel just to try and produce some new ideas. 

Here is what WIKI has to say:-


“A sustainable city, or eco-city is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimisation of required inputs of energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution - CO2, methane, and water pollution. Richard Register first coined the term "ecocity" in his 1987 book, Ecocity Berkeley: building cities for a healthy future.[1] Another leading figure who envisioned the sustainable city is architect Paul F. Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Pty Ltd. The field of industrial ecology is sometimes used in planning these cities.

A sustainable city can feed itself with minimal reliance on the surrounding countryside, and power itself with renewable sources of energy. The crux of this is to create the smallest possible ecological footprint, and to produce the lowest quantity of pollution possible, to efficiently use land; compost used materials, recycle it or convert waste-to-energy, and thus the cities overall contribution to climate change will be minimal if such practices are adhered to.

It is estimated that around 50%[2] of the world’s population now lives in cities and urban areas. Essentially these large communities are unsustainable, but they provide both challenges and opportunities for environmentally-conscious developers. In order to make them more sustainable, building design and practise, as well as perception and lifestyle must adopt sustainability thinking.” 


It is high time that we in Bangalore start dreaming about the modern Town planning concepts. Will not bother about cost factor for some time other wise we will wake up from a nice dream. 

Grand Designs: Sustainable City Task

sanchitnis's picture

Car free cities, suburb

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 Here is the website corresponding to the book "car free cities" .

Also reposting an article on Vauban: a german car free suburb:

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