Andhra’s New Smart Capital – Questions on the Master Plan Explored

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“Building a brand new capital comes as a rare opportunity. A unique challenge to showcase brilliance to the future. Very few people in the post independent era had such a chance. The new capital of Andhra has been entrusted with this great responsibility. Sheer global standards are to be followed while integrating the new master plan, rising above miniscule disparities” – Dr Sreedharan, SPA

Dr Sreedharan, School of Planning and Architecture, Hyderabad talks to KostaLife about the concept of Indian Master Plans, Andhra’s new smart master plan and some great examples of the plans from the past.

1. Is it true that river based capitals can be more organised? How is the location of AP capital suitable for the same? Please cite few important river based capitals that were built beautifully.

Not necessarily. Even land locked capitals like Geneva can be organised. It all depends on the planning, connectivity and the gamut of importance given to the place. Most of the execution happens based on how we brand a city and make it happen. Most of the capitals in India as well as abroad came up on river front. If you see the planning in the old and medieval period, river based capital concept worked extremely well. Vijayawada was once a medieval town that came up on the banks of a river. Banaras, which is a historical place also comes under the river based category. The city is thriving extremely well even today with the same plan.

2. Recent capitals like Nayaranpur and Gandhi Nagar did not have foreign agencies designing their plans. How will that help AP’s new capital

There was always an element of ‘foreign’ in the way our capitals were planned. In case of Gandhinagar, the capital received assistance from abroad during the post independence timeline. Germans were brought in by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru while planning the layout for Bhubaneswar. This is an important thing. Foreign ideas always bring in newer and fresher concepts. Let us take the example of New Delhi. The concept of the ‘Garden City’ was introduced by Lutyen architects and planners prior to independence. This was after the British decided to shift the capital from Kolkata. The same garden city concept was copied later on by other cities.

3. For green field new cities how is a master plan relevant? What is the scope of importance?

There are two important issues that we need to look at while exploring the green field idea. One, retro fitting capital idea in an existing set up will cause several problems in the long run. Because this will bring in a population of a million people, which inadvertently creates chaos. Hence, the green fields require a new place to get started and execute new urban functions. Vijayawada as such needs this.

Secondly, we do not have many alternatives other than green fields in the current scheme of things. So long as we maintain the greenery (both vertical and horizontal), we can still sustain the idea in the form of green belt, green spaces, green built-ins etc. which can prevail in the long run

4. How will Andhra cope with the oncoming changes? What are the possible ways to incorporate the new plan?

In case of India, Andhra is currently the least urbanized state. Unless we go in for urbanization (new urban corridor) poverty will not go down. This is a macro level critical issue. So far in Andhra, the emphasis was more on agriculture n not urban development. This factor becomes as huge set back now, when we are ready to make changes. We can follow the classic example of Pritampur in Madhya Pradesh, where two backward districts of south west Indore were made into several SEZs by the state government. What was once a small village is now the hub of all corporate activity.

We need to create new towns and centres along the coastline with high speed transport (air and rail). This can completely change the map of urban Andhra. I have been a strong advocate of coastal development. I see this as a golden belt of the country 30 years from now. A lot of potential is possible with implementing high infrastructure and urban restructuring.

5. Can you give us few examples of foreign cities built with good master plan and how they helped their regions?

I consider Singapore as part of China because of land ownership pattern. Shanghai and Ganzhou were developed at a faster pace with beautifully integrated master plan. They implemented the 20 years planning strategy within a span of 10 years. They have risen above other cities. Needless to say, cities with integrated master plans develop at a faster rate.

In the western world, many cities have come up. New capitals like Canberra and Toronto worked out effective with steady integration of new master plan. These places now stand at a promising place on the global map.

6. How does SPA envisage the new AP capital ? Any suggestions that you may have?

The present developments should not prove to be a hindrance. New model should lay foundation to the future, and this is possible only when we create something outstanding in the form of capital. A master plan is not a single man’s game. There should be a collective envisioning. The plan should propel the growth of AP capital for years to come.



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