Local Area Planning, Bases of Planning, Dimensions of Local Area Planning Part 2

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Bases of Planning

There may be several bases of planning but here we are discussing only the bases of planning i.e. ecological and socio-economics.

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Ecological Basis of Planning: The study which explains the interrelationships among all-natural organisms with their environment is termed as ecology. All those conditions, circumstances, and influences that affect the development of an organism or a group of organisms is the environment. Thus, ecology and environment are closely related with each other in the context of organisms and systems that influence them. Geographically, the exchange of matter between land and sea is set in motion by two main physio-geographical processes. The interaction between man and nature is inseparable. It is the highest form of interaction between life in general and the environment in particular. The diversity of life forms that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years and their adaptation to different, often extreme environmental conditions are amazing. The interaction of human beings with nature began at the time they separated themselves from the natural environment. The relations between man and nature take shape within his habitat.

The experience of man-nature interaction is an age-old practice of planning. To make the best use of nature, man has been making necessary adjustments in the ecological setup. The domestication of wild animals, selection of useful plants from the natural vegetation, making terraces on the mountain slopes, taming the rivers for irrigation or flood control etc. are a few examples of planning the welfare of people while keeping a balance on the ecological setup. Human habitations were planned in close proximity to water sources, work sites and on the considerations of safety and mobility.

Most of the primary pursuits like agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, etc. are based on the natural considerations of productivity. Similarly, some of the secondary production systems such as software, paper, many foot loose industries etc. are also designed in a manner that causes minimum disturbance to the ecological setup. However, growing human needs and commercial considerations have caused serious damages to the ecological setup. Large scale developmental activities, deforestation, structural changes, and waste generation; and so on have accelerated desertification, global warming, melting of ice caps, rise in the sea level, natural disasters, etc.

Socio-Economic Basis of Planning: The population of the earth is increasing rapidly and has registered above 6 billion mark. To meet the ever-increasing needs of the people, the utilisation of natural resources will grow. It is, therefore, necessary to maintain a balance between the scope of resource utilisation in a given ecological setup and human needs. The socio-economic planning has to remain eco-friendly for sustainable development. Besides utilising natural resources, sustained efforts need to be made to develop local surroundings, streets, drains, parks, playgrounds, open spaces, etc. with landscapes and tree plantations. The designs for tree plantations need to be developed based on the geological structure, relief, climatic conditions, soil, drainage system, and natural vegetation. Depending upon the available space, growing conditions of plants, local weather, and climatic conditions; indigenous varieties of dwarf, medium and large trees need to be planted. For promoting and maintaining the local environment, peoples support is essential. In turn, a healthy local ecological setup satisfies several needs of the local people besides presenting a pleasing view of green surroundings.

Dimensions of Local Area Planning

Basic and Higher Needs: The welfare of local community depends upon fulfilling the basic as well as higher needs of the people. The basic needs include food, clothing, and shelter besides safe drinking water, basic education, health care, transport and communication facilities and so on. The higher needs include still higher order amenities, services, facilities etc. While basic needs are necessary for survival, higher needs help the society to become efficient, service oriented, and dynamic. The process of planning is aimed at making the necessary provisions to meet the demands of people and places. Several schemes of planning are designed to fulfil the general as well as functional needs of the people. However, dynamics of population growth and concentration of activities at specific sites pose a challenge to the planning process.

Dynamics of Population Growth and Prospects of Planning: In places where growth of population remains normal, functional activities are largely unchanged, and scheme of planning records success. For example, civil lines, mall roads, cantonment settlements etc. present a striking balance between the provision of amenities and facilities with the growth of local population and concentration of functions and activities. On the contrary, the local areas where population growth is high and concentration of activities continues unchecked, the performance of planning usually remains poor.

For example, busy markets, industrial sites, transport junctions, slum settlements and so on register a higher population growth and concentration of activities. It leads to the congestion and crowding reflecting the poor planning performances. In the absence of adequate job opportunities in rural and backward regions, most of the rural youths out migrate towards cities. It leads to poor economic performance in the places of origin and unchecked concentration of population in the places of destination. While it leads to clustering in living spaces due to limited paying capacity of the migrant population, it offers adequate cheap labour to cities. The mismatch between population growth and provision of services, facilities, and amenities causes unhygienic sanitary conditions, poor public health, and above all degeneration of local environment. Thus, the provisions of planning fall short of the growing local demands in these areas.

Economic Basis for Stability and Development: The economic development of an area is another dimension of local area planning. It aims at raising the production and service levels, job generation, improved marketing network, favourable price policy, efficient systems of transport and communication, etc. Economically advanced areas are usually capable of making significant investments towards natural conservation and ecological improvements. Similarly, social infrastructure and facilities can also be created if areas have a sound economic base. Almost all areas- rural or urban are endowed with natural potentials. While primary activities dominate in rural areas, secondary and tertiary activities dominate the urban areas.

The pace of economic growth is accelerated through technological innovations and institutional backup. Mechanisation of agriculture and modernisation of industries are the examples of technological innovations, while financial, educational, and policy backups are the institutional roles in improving the economic base of an area. Issues such as the interests of producers, consumers, service providers, and workers be taken care of in the planning. The status of income and employment generation, capacities of savings and investments will increase as a natural outcome of economic package.

It has been observed that many of the economic packages turn out to be rewarding in the course of time. Reed works of Shillong, brassware works of Moradabad, silk and zari works of Varanasi and Kanjivaram, bandhani works of Sanganer, embroidery works of Lucknow, etc. are a few examples of success stories that had the backup of economic planning. Thus, the products and services of a local area mark the place identity and people’s prosperity.

People’s Participation in Planning: Awareness of the people and their participation in the local area planning can safeguard the interest of the community while maintaining the local ecological situations. The chances of the failure of a planning scheme, that involves local people, remain minimum as corruption, exploitation, and mismanagement is greatly checked. Besides, above people being direct beneficiaries, keep a caring attitude towards maintaining the social welfare and area development. When local people develop a plan and set their priorities, it will maximise benefits to the people and minimize the cost of planning. It is more likely that the planning augments the cycle of growth and diversities in developmental activities.