Urbanisation, urban planning and Urban water and waste water


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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India.I am a patient person :)
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Re: Urbanisation, urban planning and Urban water and waste water

Thanks, Depinder for raising this important question. My response is based on experience, which is limited to the Western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and some extent Kerala. 

As much as I understand the first two, viz; perspective plan and regional plans are more about economic planning rather than urban planning.  The DP and area-based plan (town planning scheme or TPS, for example) deal with land use.  In most cases, the DPs seem to be done in a firefighting mode, and their approval and then implementation are often delayed for various reasons incl. vested interests. I only know TPS being pursued proactively in Gujarat, where the focus has been on road infrastructure (ex: ring roads in Ahmedabad). Evolution in the last couple of decades or so has led to the emergence of sectoral planning like sanitation, transport, etc. (each of them have its own trajectory). Important to note that Indian cities hardly practice urban planning as in the west, it is more firefighting and a process of legitimising developments.  

However, the planning departments (generally parastatal agencies except for big cities) restrict themselves to land use only and their connection with sanitation and other services is limited to reserving/allocating land for treatment facilities. They probably assume that the required network can be laid under/along the roads. Further, they haven't kept pace with developments and innovations within the sectors - decentralised treatment and FSM for instance (From a land-use perspective, FSM delinks the flow of waste from gravity and enables FSTPs to be located at higher altitudes). Most of the sanitation planning is done by external agencies in consultation with the local governments but often without the involvement of the planning department. That probably explains why the urban planners at planning departments are not involved. 

The tools as you rightly point out have a limited focus. Unfortunately, many are not used or even known widely. And I am not sure if sanitation planners need to reach out to formal town planners. What is certainly needed is integration of  sanitation planning with other basic services - drinking water supply, SWM, stormwater drainage, etc. On the ground, even that remains a challenge and planning generally happen in silos. (see related thread initiated by Abishek: Integrating water, sanitation and SWM ). What do you think?
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • depinder
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  • Depinder Kapur is currently Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
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Urbanisation, urban planning and Urban water and waste water

Integrating urban sanitation tools within the formal systems and putting them to use.

Our sanitation sector consistently comes up with various Approaches, Tools and Frameworks for planning, implementation and monitoring of urban water and sanitation. Yet they remain small projects centred and never get used at scale. Shit Flow Diagram Saniplan, Sanipath, CLUES, SUWASA, CDSA, PFC, SSP, etc. all developed by technical and donor agencies  - they seem to at best serve an advocacy aim. Donors pay for their development and national and international development agencies conduct training programs and use them for advocacy. Then some new tool replaces the old one. 

Integrating sanitation Approaches, Tools and Frameworks within the formal systems of urban planning remains a challenge perhaps because we do not position them for urban planning within the formal urban planning system and reach out to urban planners.

In India we have a hierarchy of Urban Planning Systems that are simply ignored.
This hierarchy consists of :
  • Perspective Plan
  • Regional Plans
  • Development Plans
  • Zonal Plans and Area based plans.
We simply ignore these formal systems and develop tools that dont end up serving any formal systems.
Depinder Kapur is Director Water Programme at Centre for Science and Environment. He has taight at Shiv Nadar University and has lead the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) of National Institute of Urban Affairs. His professional engagements have been with AKRSP(Program Officer Forestry), SPWD(Sr. Program Officer), CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator) and as an independent consultant.

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