The prolific growth of urban areas in the past decade has created a variety of challenges for urban planning. These challenges cannot be resolved at the level of administrators and planners alone- it calls for active participation of the residents themselves. Here is the mandate for the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to take up the role of urban planning in a participatory manner. The civil society institutions, by virtue of their presence and close linkages with the residents, can help ULBs by creating innovative participatory processes of planning starting from the ward. In this process, the civil society can also take up the role to push the ULBs towards participatory planning and to become a bridge between them and the residents.
Bhopal is one of those cities which are blessed with a considerable presence of Residents Welfare Associations, most of which are vibrant and active for years together. So far, they have not been engaged by the ULBs in city development, though they are doing their bit out of their own needs in their own localities. They have lots of potential to be engaged in city planning.
Apart from the above, in a city like Bhopal, the wards are still manageable as areas where plans can be developed with citizens’ participation. But there has hardly been any attempt to utilize these opportunity and demonstrate it to policy makers, planners and implementing agencies in the city. This is one of such attempts.
The ward planning exercise was undertaken with the following objectives:
- To identify the infrastructure and other service needs by the residents themselves to be included in the municipal plan.
- To set and demonstrate a ward level planning process as a mechanism of decentralized planning within a larger city level planning.
- To generate community participation in identifying solutions on the priority needs and actions thereon.
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