Local Area Planning, Unique Needs of Different Planning Areas, Resource Utilisation and Inter Relationships Part 4

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Unique Needs of Different Planning Areas

Nature has provided some resources to all areas which can help to develop the regions. Different areas have distinct problems and potentials. But every area which has problems has also possibilities to solve such problems. As such, there is a need to develop specific plans for welfare of the people and the development of the specific areas. For example, mining areas have large mineral deposits. But, by and large, these areas are faced with the problems of health and natural hazards, noise pollution, collapse mine roofs, waterlogging etc. The problems of mining areas could be specially taken up for planning. A slum locality in a city is usually faced with the problems of poor sanitation, insufficient living space, and acute shortage of basic social facilities and amenities.

The quality of life is poor and full of health hazards. As such it demands for an urgent provision for essential infrastructures in its local area planning charge. Industrial areas are faced with the problems of pollutions, while market areas are faced with congestion, crowding, and poor sanitation. As a result, industrial areas will have priority of planning for pollution control, while market areas will have priority to develop other centres of marketing to relieve the pressure and reduce congestion and crowding. Agricultural areas have problems of floods and droughts, soil erosion, declining natural fertility, and shrinking land-man ratio while pastoral areas suffer from the problems of range and management, and conversion of grasslands into farmlands.

The diversification in cropping pattern, cropping efficiency, and increasing agricultural productivity are the priorities of agricultural planning while controlled grazing and effective range, land management and commercial pastoralism are the planning priorities in pastoral areas. Areas with diverse physical and socio-economic set up have their unique needs. It calls for need based planning solutions. For example, hill areas have steep slopes, deep valleys, thin layer of soil, and relatively low level of carrying capacity of land. Hill areas, therefore, need afforestation, promotion of horticulture, herbal and medicinal plants, eco-tourism, and small hydro-power projects for their development. Similarly, desert areas are characterized by the acute shortage of water leading to the vast expanse of wastelands, sand dunes, and barren areas. The desert development requires the provision of water as its top planning priority. Indira Gandhi Canal serves the purpose of need based planning for the desert development in the Thar region of India.

A brief discussion on need based planning is given below:

Water Harvesting and Management- These areas reveal scientific and judicious use of water from remote cold desert of Leh to hot desert of Thar; from Patha area of central India to far south in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, water management techniques have completely changed the lives and landscape in these areas. Recent examples of Arvari in Rajasthan and Tikaria in Patha area of central India are the initiatives of local people for managing water resources of the area. Traditional water harvesting and management methods are also found in every part of India.

Image of Water Harvesting

Image of Water Harvesting

Image of Water Harvesting

Protection and Promotion of Forests- Plants and animals need protection and promotion for keeping the ecological and biological balance in a locality. People have been partly protecting plants and animals due to religion and partly due to prevailing customs and traditions. Sacred groves are protected due to age old practice and ritual. They signify the judicious use of natural resources in the long-term interest of the community. Plants like Peepul, Neem, Tulsi, and Beri are sacred in Hindu tradition while Dates, Oak, and Bargad are sacred in Islamic, Christian, and Buddhist traditions respectively. Depending upon the ecological conditions in different areas, plants are protected. Such as coconut and casuarina in coastal areas, Dates and Beri in desert areas, and orchards in hill areas are part of the regional practices towards protection and promotion. There is also a similar tradition of protecting sacred animals like cow, goats, sheep, camels, snake and so on.

Tribal Communities and Protection of Wild Life- Tribal communities and wild life both are facing the problems of survival and development in the face of deforestation. Forest dwellers have protected wildlife, for example Ban Gujars of Rajaji National Park in Uttaranchal, Abujhmars of Bastar, and Todas of Nilgiri Hills are known for their skill in wild life protection. However, some of these forest dwellers are now evicted and rehabilitated in areas where they have no access to forests. This has happened in Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, and Rajaji National Park in Uttaranchal. Involvement of tribal people and protection of their forest rights has now succeeded in using better methods of wild life protection.

Power to People: Local Level Environment Management- Environmental management at the local level is giving power to the people to manage their natural resources. Even after spending large sums on development and welfare activities, India could not perform too well in tackling environmental management. It is, therefore, widely felt that local affairs should to be managed by local people for taking care of their needs and aspirations. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution have made decentralized planning possible in a democracy.

Constructing tanks, bunds, mini reservoirs for water harvesting, plantations along sloppy tracks and controlled pastoral activities are some of the local initiatives that have improved the quality of environment.

Resource Utilisation and Inter Relationships

Resources are all the materials and objects that are ready for use or available as needed by people. Utilisation of resource is a situation in which a commodity in nature is used. These should be balanced utilization of resources. Resources utilised beyond the critical limit or without replacement leads to imbalances in the ecosystems and ultimately in the environment. Thus, the rationale use of resources is of utmost importance. It helps human progress in the long run.

Types and Utilisation of Resources: Primarily, there are two kinds of resources- non-renewable (mineral wealth) which exhaust after bearing utilized once and there is a certain fixed amount of such resources in the world; and renewable resources (fresh water in rivers, oxygen in the atmosphere, the forests, and the biological mass), which come from natural processes taking place on the earth and are balanced between annual increase and annual consumption, including the utilisation by human beings. Let us see how the environment influences man and in turn what influence society exerts on the nature. Today there is hardly a place where human beings would not be able to live and work. The effect of human intervention is on the increase in nature. For example, while extracting mineral wealth, burning fuel, or irrigating crops in arid lands, we extract certain substances from nature. Similarly, while discharging industrial and agricultural waste and other such by products into the atmosphere and hydrosphere, we introduce new components into the environment. By farming marshlands or piping water for household and industrial needs, we alter some of the elements of the water balance.

The fragile ecosystems like mountains and valley areas are threatened by felling of trees, road constructions, blasting of rocks, and constructing mega dam projects. These activities are responsible for changes in the structure of earth surface and imbalances in the ecological set up.

The use of soil resources for crop production, commercial plantation, and pastures are eco-friendly activities carried out by human beings. However, unscientific practices of high intensity or cropping or overgrazing lead to soil erosion and become a challenge to the ecosystem. Similarly, deforestation, slash and burn cultivation, polluting industries etc. cause ecological as well as environmental crisis. Hence, it is important to understand the local resources and their utilisation in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner failing which ecological crisis will be inevitable.

Depletion of Resources: People have drawn quite a lot through their activities from our natural resources both renewable and non-renewable. Some of them are depleted to a large extent or almost in full and others far a lesser degree. Human activities have increased to the extent that it alters the established patterns of cyclic movement of matter affecting the natural course of various processes on the earth’s surface. The depletion of resources, the growing impact of humans on nature, and above all the pollution of environment are matters of growing concern. This concern is further highlighted by the energy crisis and increasing food shortage. As a consequence, very serious ecological crisis is likely to occur. However, it will be possible to avoid the crisis, if measures are taken up to utilise resources on a rational manner, and a policy to conserve resources is adopted beginning from local to global levels.

Optimal Resource Utilisation: The transformation of environment in the course of production by society is inevitable. Not only human society but in fact any form of life affects nature with its activity. Ecologists persist in their belief that the development of society will inevitably have negative effects on humans. These consequences in association with the depletion of resources augments ecological as well as economic crisis. The efforts of local area planning are aimed at maintaining a critical balance between available natural resources and their optimal utilisation in a sustainable manner, while private enterprise is guided solely by the profit motive regardless of social benefits or evils.

It has been seen that the public sector development too suffers from a bias towards developing areas for political or commercial reasons. For example, production of luxuries on a commercial scale leads to the exhaustion of resources. As a result, the masses suffer even for the bare necessities of life. Since both public as well as private sector enterprises suffer from inherent weaknesses in the system, people’s participation in planning and management of resources is of utmost significance. The utilization of resources must be guided by the availability, existing efficiency, and current and future needs of the society. The continuous monitoring of conservation practices keeping in mind the cyclic process of resource renewal and search for viable alternatives are some of the measures to meet the challenges of resources depletion.

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