GIS & public participation for town planning: An Indian perspective

GIS & public participation for town planning: An Indian perspective


Avinash Patil
Deputy Director – Pune Division
Department of Town Planning & Valuation, Maharashtra, India
[email protected]

Dr. Abhijit Khandge
Director, Xenolith Geoservices, Pune, India
[email protected]

Malkapur, originally an Indian Gram Panchayat, got the status of Nagar Panchayat in 2008. Nagar Panchayat is an intermediate status between rural and urban levels of local government. It was the first Nagar Panchayat which prepared a Development Plan for itself. Usually, Development Plan is prepared by municipal councils & corporations, which is upper body of Nagar Panchayat.

Malkapur is semi-urban in nature and is in transition state from rural to urban. Although Malkapur is a small town, its leadership is visionary and proactive towards progress. This has also helped Malkapur Nagar Panchayat in becoming the first town in Maharashtra State to get innovative 24X7 water supply system, using modern technology.

Geographic feature
Malkapur is a small township in Karad Taluka of Satara district in Maharashtra State. It is situated at 17°15’3″N, 74°11’5″E. (Latitudinal extent is from 17.23850N to 17.27640N while the longitudinal extent is from 74.15480E to 74.19340E). Malkapur is situated along Mumbai-Chennai National Highway (NH-4) and is adjacent to Karad, the nearest town. Its population is 22392 people (Census 2001) and 31700 (Census 2011) and the economy of the place is mainly dependent upon- agriculture and small scale industrial units.

Malkapur Nagar Panchayat limit is spread over an area of 8.70 Sq Km and is bounded by Koyna River to its north-west. It comprises of three administrative sectors, further sub-divided into seventeen electoral wards. Existing road length of the town is 62.9 Kms and it has 9625 buildings.

Malkapur Nagar Panchayat has limited staff of 92 personnel, headed by Chief Officer. The General Body comprises of 17 locally elected members headed by the President.

SWOT analysis
Before commencing work on Development Plan for Malkapur, the Nagar Panchayat conducted SWOT analysis, where SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

SWOT analysis indicated that geographic location of the town and visionary leadership demands its systematic growth. There is enough potential for all-round development of the town, hence it is necessary to build latest digital data for multiple utilities in future. Proactive people preferred to use GIS technology to prepare the Development Plan.

The objectives set out were as follows:

  • For GIS based Existing Land Use (ELU) Mapping
    • To ensure optimum utilisation and augmentation of scarce resources available at Nagar Panchayat and the Department of Town Planning.
    • To prepare GIS based ELU map (showing the usage of land at individual land parcel level) at an earliest attaining maximum practically achievable accuracy.
    • To avail GIS based analysis of ELU map.
    • To prepare Proposed Land Use (PLU) map using GIS.
  • For Malkapur Nagar Panchayat
    • To draft vision document for the sustainable development.
    • To enhance the revenue receipts adopting the Capital value method of taxation.
    • Promotion of Buddha Caves as religious tourist spot on the tourist map of India and abroad.
    • Securing cultivation by protecting good agricultural land.
    • To decide and phase out the priorities.
    • To provide quality facilities to the citizens in time and as per the priorities set out sectorally and at the town level.
    • To have development in planned manner by taking up town planning schemes in the amended form.
    • To ascertain the least disturbance to the existing structures and earmarking of spaces for rehabilitation of affected households and shopkeepers.
    • Proper and wider road network at initial stage itself with a view to avoid necessity of widening in future.
    • To create exclusive space for – interaction amongst women at town level, recreation for senior citizens, assembly of farmers to interact over agro-based activities and consultation from veterinary doctor.
    • To run E-learning school along with E-library.
    • To create flowing green spaces along water bodies.
    • To provide Executive Summary of the Development Plan report in the regional language i.e. Marathi.
    • To appeal and involve all institutions, industrial units in execution of some of the projects needed in the town.
    • To invoke participation of people at plan monitoring stage to bring more transparency in rendering quality services.

Input data
Since Malkapur was originally a Gram Panchayat it had not been mapped by the City Survey department. As a result, only village map (showing survey boundaries i.e. revenue units) was available.

For preparing GIS based Existing Land Use (ELU) map following datasets have been used:

  • High resolution satellite images: False Colour Composite (FCC) images having spatial resolution of 0.60 meter.

    FCC for Malkapur Nagar Panchayat

  • Village map: Computerised (non-georeferenced) village map of Malkapur (Scale 1:10000) as acquired from the office of the State Settlement Commissionerate, based at Pune.

    Computerised Village Map

  • Map showing Nagar Panchayat limit: Malkapur Nagar Panchayat provided hard copy map depicting the administrative boundary.
  • Field survey data (DGPS, Total station, household survey): (a) For the purpose of establishing the bench marks across the city, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey has been conducted. These bench marks were used for georeferencing of satellite images as well as reference for the Total Station Survey. (b) With reference to the DGPS points, Total Station survey was carried out to map road network, compound walls & fences, buildings & other surface features. (c) Attribute data collection at household level was carried out using questionnaire method. Considering the Land Use Classes defined by the Department of Town Planning, Six different types of questionnaire were designed to collect data regarding the existing buildings. This attribute data can be utilized for multi-purposes.

    Assignment of Land Use classes as per usage of structures

  • Layouts sanctioned by Malkapur Nagar Panchayat were computerized and superimposed onto the satellite images and were finally position on being cross checked with the Total Station survey carried out.

    Sanctioned Layout

  • Ground water data: Ground Water data was acquired from Groundwater Survey & Development Agency (GSDA), Pune.

    Ground water data: Source GSDA

    Ground water levels taken by GSDA every year show that the Malkapur town has water levels ranging from 4.2 to 6.8M.

  • Soil data: Soil data was acquired from National Bureau of Soil Survey (NBSS).

    Soil map: source NBSS


The Existing Land Use map prepared using this input data is as shown below:

Total Area of Nagar Panchayat = 870.984 Ha

Inference: The agriculture use (59.85%) is the predominant one followed by residential (11.37%), transport & communication (7.16%), forest & hill area (5.44%).

Cost-benefit analysis: Conventional vis-à-vis modern techniques

Role Play: Department of Town Planning

  • Primary Responsibility: The Town Planning Officer from Department of Town Planning is vested with the responsibility of preparation of ELU map, its analysis to prepare Proposed Land Use (PLU) map and resolution of the objections raised by the public over the proposals recommended by him.
  • Guide to Nagar Panchayat: The Department has strategically tapped the inbuilt proactiveness of the public representatives at the Nagar Panchayat in persuading them over technology adoption on the grounds of lack of resources and time constraint. The Department could also justify to the Nagar Panchayat that in absence of sufficient resources at their end, outsourcing the task of ELU preparation is the only feasible solution. Thus the work was awarded to GIS Cell of AIILSG, Pune* – an external agency; to undertake ELU mapping.(*Xenolith Geoservices is the business associate of AIILSG that runs the GIS Cell).

    Malkapur Nagar Panchayat, persuaded by the Department of Town Planning in turn convinced the local populace over the investment being done in technology adoption and thus won their willing cooperation to enable hindrance-free field survey. Over the course of project, in a way, the Department acted as the project authority on behalf of the Nagar Panchayat.

  • Technical Refree: The Department has acted as the Technical Referee for both, the Nagar Panchayat and the external mapping agency.
  • Efficient time-management: In normal course, the draft ELU map is submitted to the Department for field verification only after it is complete. Adopting an off-beat approach, instead of waiting for the complete ELU map of the town, the Department demanded for sectorwise ELU map and conducted the field verification in phases. Likewise incorporation of corresponding suggestions was carried out in phases which resulted in saving in time & achieving accuracy as well.
  • Technical excellence: Recommendation of proposals for the preparation of PLU map, in this case, was not only based on the principles of Town Planning but was also rationalized on the basis of auxiliary data of ground water & soil acquired additionally. This served as a support to the decision making process.
  • Subjective analysis of every proposal with respect to the ground water availability and soil condition at the respective location was to ensure that in no case good fertile land is put to alternate use.
  • Public Participation: Another strategic and innovative idea introduced was of inviting suggestions from the people at large and the ward members (local representatives) towards the proposed development of the town. Wardwise meetings were held consecutively for a week to re-verify the correctness of the ELU of individual parcel and these suggestions have been weighed and incorporated in the PLU wherever feasible. As a result, a sense of belongingness was generated in them and acceptability level of the PLU has risen. This clearly exemplifies the importance of citizen participation in the plan preparation process & would continue during the subsequent phases of implementation and monitoring.

A resident explaining his aspirations

The suggestions range bound from micro to macro. Strengthening the alternative link to Bangalore highway, provision of schools and playgrounds, vegetable market, gardens were amongst the common suggestions. However, a group of about 800 residents who are retired teachers showed their willingness to run a full-fledged library (conventional as well as eLibrary) along with Sanskar Kendra for kids and teenagers. Need of a veterinary hospital along with interactive space for farmers was put forth by a small farmer. An immediate necessity of a police chowky in one of the sectors was emphasized to control and curb the anti-social activities running there. Problem of parking in the sanctioned buildings was stressed upon by many. The public representatives suggested to provide for exclusive interaction centre for women wherein all activities for women viz. gymnasium, programs on entrepreneurship, medical counseling, meetings of self-help groups (Bachat Gats), etc. can be planned under one roof. They have also a vision of strengthening the connectivity to the Buddha caves just abutting the town so as to tap the tourist potential. Welcoming the concept of Town Planning Scheme in its new form, they have shown their readiness to use this tool to its best for implementing the proposals of Development Plan. To begin with, the open spaces in the sanctioned layouts have been taken in possession by the Nagar Panchayat for their development in the next two years along with the improvement of some critical traffic junctions.

The path ahead…
This journey of Development Plan can achieve its desired destination if following is the path ahead

  • Development Approach should be ‘City as a whole’.
  • Modified version of Town Planning Scheme to be implemented effectively for timely development.
  • Provision of housing for probable dishoused due to implementation of Development Plan.
  • Provision of housing for vulnerable groups (BPL/SC/ST) by MHADA or other agencies.
  • Use of Information Technology for education, agriculture & cooperative sectors creating agro-marketing system on the lines of Warnanagar.
  • To promote protection of environment by giving concession in taxation for recycling of domestic waste, rainwater harvesting, solar system installation, solid waste management (5% for each aspect).
  • To promote concept of green building especially for institutional buildings and for large residential projects (having area more than 1 Ha).
  • To provide healthy urban living environment by creating quality consciousness amongst the residents and involving residents in monitoring the creation of & maintenance of quality amenities and encourage healthy competition every year in different sectors of the town for the same.
  • Formation of a permanent city level facilitating team under which different groups will be working on each of the aspects viz. transport & parking, utility services (water supply, drainage, electricity), health (solid waste disposal, sewage treatment plants), education, sports, medical, recreational, agricultural: allied & cooperative industries, tourism, religious and historical, cultural, heritage, urban design, security, social interaction, schemes, project funding, coordination & liasoning. Respective head of the Government Department would play a role of an advisor to the Committees.
  • To welcome activities like technical school as the Government Engineering College at Siadapur is in the close proximity of the town.
  • To utilize the topography for generation of non-conventional energy (wind/ Solar) generation.
  • To add to the strengths of the Town, lessens its weaknesses, timely tap the opportunities and take care of the possible threats.
  • Capacity building of the Nagar Panchayat officials as well as non-officials.


  • Location of Malkapur town and presence of various institutions and industrial units indicate potential for all-round development of the town.
  • People are proactive and are demanding for systematic growth of the town which will ultimately result into high level of implementation.
  • Recent amendments of MR&TP Avt,1966 have been followed ensuring timely preparation of Development Plan.
  • GIS is time & cost effective tool to prepare accurate digital data and a powerful tool to decision making.
  • Use of GIS has helped in augmenting resources available at Malkapur Nagar Panchayat and Department of Town Planning for timely accomplishment of the task.
  • Technical enhancement to planning process was brought in by application of auxiliary data of ground water & soil.
  • The data thus prepared has multi-utility to the Nagar Panchayat as it can be used by all the departments dealing with planning & execution (transportation, water, sewage, etc) and property tax department.
  • Field verification of the draft ELU map by the Department of Town Planning served as ‘Third party Technical Audit’ to exercise the quality control.
  • Public participation at the stage of preparing PLU has resulted into important inputs and smoothened the process since aspirations of people at large are taken into account.
  • This case study presents classic examples of application of strategic management and project management concepts.
  • In view of the built in proactiveness of the town, the measures suggested in the path ahead, if adopted, would certainly enhance its identity further as an Ideal Town.

Note: This paper was presented at Geospatial World Forum 2012 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.