Liu Thai Ker is a planner, architect and director of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers (Pte) Ltd in Singapore. Liu spent 20 years at Singapore’s Housing and Development Board starting in 1969, ten of them as chief executive officer, and oversaw the construction of half-a-million apartments in the city-state. In New Delhi for the launch of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, Liu said in an interview that all Indian cities are in dire need of planning. Edited excerpts:
Where does a city needs to begin to become a good city?
Every city needs to plan. And for big cities, which have over 1.5 million population, the skill of putting roads together and putting industries in the right place becomes quite overwhelming. So any city above one or 1.5 million needs to plan according to the modern concept. But the problem is that this concept is not well understood by politicians and planners.
Aecom has won a contract to programme manage the development of a new city in India that will have a population of a million people.
The construction group will plan the city of Dholera in Gujarat – including its land uses and infrastructure – and put in place the management and governance structures to develop it out.
Dholera is the largest part of India’s planned Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a 1,500km link of developments and infrastructure between India’s two largest cities. Dholera will cover hundreds of square kilometres and is one of seven cities planned along the DMIC route.
Having lost intervening centuries when cities across the world came into their own, Indian cities are struggling to play catch-up
India’s arc of urbanization went into deep freeze under the British Raj. We remained a largely agrarian, land-based economy, while around the world, cities were the catalysts of societies morphing from agrarian to industrial nations. Even today, these cities continue to trigger innovations and fuel progress across the entire spectrum of social, cultural and economic activity.
Having lost the intervening centuries when cities around the world came into their own, Indian cities are struggling to play catch-up. This is evident in Janaagraha’s Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, which assessed India’s top eleven cities. The report was released recently.
One of the four themes was Urban Planning and Design, where Indian cities averaged 2.7 on 10, while London and New York scored 8.8. Clearly, there are major gaps in the spatial planning of our cities.