Home Articles How GIS and public participation helped town planning in Maharashtra’s Malkapur

How GIS and public participation helped town planning in Maharashtra’s Malkapur

Rural and urban development, a determinant of a nation’s progress, is one of the core functions of governance. Constant rise in population is inevitable; but it can be regulated through a doctrine of town and regional planning. However, the urban planning and development scenario in developing nations is different, complex and more challenging than that in developed nations. This paper presents the case study of Malkapur town in Maharashtra. Malkapur is semi-urban in nature but proactive towards development and innovativeness.

Using GIS, the Department Of Town Planning and Valuation has demonstrated exemplary efficiency in implementation of the recent amendment of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (reduced time-limit for preparation of development plan for timely completion of the task with the desired quality). Existing Land Use (ELU) map of the town was prepared using DGPS, total station, high-resolution satellite images, household survey, existing revenue maps, sanctioned layouts and other auxiliary data such as ground water and soil. Spatial analysis of ELU served as the base to prepare ‘Proposed Land Use (PLU) map’ that is on the verge of getting accepted as development plan. Adoption of technology in small and medium-sized towns is usually difficult due to budgetary constraints. The Malkapur case is thus, an encouraging example since it exhibits worthiness of technology investment evident through the swiftness and accuracy attained in data collection and analysis at economy of cost and time. The uniqueness of Malkapur is collective application of management principles, planning principles and the geospatial technology for the purpose of preparing a development plan for an upcoming progressive town assuring sustainable development. The proactiveness of the elected representatives has added to the quality of the map as well to the process of preparation of the first development plan for the town. The measures are also suggested with a view to have the implementation of the plan quantitatively as well qualitatively.

Malkapur, originally a ‘gram panchayat’, established as ‘nagar panchayat’ in the year 2008. Nagar panchayat is the intermediate status between rural and urban levels of local self government. Thus Malkapur is semi-urban in nature and is in transition state from rural to urban. Although Malkapur is a small town, a visionary and proactive leadership has helped the Malkapur Nagar Panchayat become the first town in Maharashtra to attain innovative 24X7 water supply through the scheme. By virtue of proactiveness, Malkapur town demanded for the preparation of development plan for Malkapur soon after its establishment as ‘nagar panchayat’; making it supposedly the first such case in the state. Usually, a ‘development plan’ is prepared for municipal councils and corporations.

City features
Malkapur is a small township in Karad Taluka of Satara district in Maharashtra. It is situated along the Mumbai-Chennai National Highway (NH-4) and is adjacent to Karad, the nearest town. With a population of 31,700 (Census 2011), the economy of the place is mainly dependent on agriculture and small-scale industrial units.

The Malkapur Nagar Panchayat limit is spread over an area of 8.70 sq km and is bounded by the River Koyna to its north-west. It comprises of three administrative sectors, further sub-divided into 17 electoral wards. The existing road length of the town is 62.9 km and it has 9,625 buildings. The Malkapur Nagar Panchayat has limited staff of 92 personnel headed by chief officer, and the general body comprises of 17 locally elected members headed by the president.

Requirement analysis

Before commencing the work on the development plan, Malkapur town was appraised through SWOT analysis given below:

• Strengths

  • Proactive and participatory approach of residents.
  • People are clear about their needs and priorities.
  • Non-officials are visionary and committed to welfare of the town and residents.
  • Recipient of the National Award for the successful implementation of the unique 24 X 7 water supply scheme.
  • Being located in the juxtaposition of Karad town, spill over population would like to reside in the town.
  • Government Engineering College located at 3 km to the North of the town.
  • large number of senior citizens related to education field residing in the town.
  • This being the first plan for development gives liberty to visualise and plan accordingly.

• Weaknesses

  • Being intercepted by a national highway, heavy traffic runs across town.
  • No parking space for private travel buses.
  • Poorly maintained parking within residential societies.
  • No proper loading-unloading facility for Agriculture Produce Market Committee
  • No administrative complexes for government-semi government offices.
  • Ancient Buddha caves in the vicinity of Malkapur haven’t been projected so far as tourists spot.
  • Lack of listing of natural resources like streams, water bodies etc.
  • Lack of in-house expertise to adopt technology initiatives.

• Opportunities

  • On the backdrop of the national award for water supply scheme, the potential for taking up innovative projects and schemes has gone up.
  • Project for the development of drainage network sanctioned by the central government is about to start
  • A project by the Archaeological Survey of India and forest department regarding restoration of the Buddha caves is under consideration.
  • Feasibility of opening of big mall and IT parks is being evaluated by the stakeholders.
  • The town has 32 open spaces in the layouts approved so far and their sizes range from 200 to 3,000 sq m. These can be developed (for open and various ancillary purposes) as the first step for setting up the momentum in the town for further development.

• Threats

  • Development in extended Karad in near future is likely to impact Malkapur’s growth.
  • Unauthorised subdivision of land.
  • Sub-standard habitation in some parts of the town.
  • Non-availability of land for roads, amenities in the view of rising land values.

The SWOT analysis clearly indicated that geographic location of the town demanded 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. Proactiveness of people hints feasibility of GIS technology adoption for preparation of the development plan.

Strengths and opportunities are more as compared to weaknesses and threats that could very well be overcome by the proactive & sensible people and their representatives.

With these inferences from SWOT analysis, the objectives set out were as follows:

  • 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 sustainable development.
  • To enhance the revenue receipts adopting the capital value method of taxation.
  • Promotion of Buddha caves as a 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 a 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-base 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. Its establishment as Nagar Panchayat took place in 2008. The following datasets have been used for preparing various sets of maps.

• Preparing GIS-based ELU map

  • High resolution satellite images — false colour composite (FCC) images having spatial resolution of 0.60 metre.

FCC for Malkapur Nagar Panchayat

  • Village map: computerised (non-georeferenced) village map of Malkapur at 1:10,000 scale as acquired from the office of the State Settlement Commissionerate, 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). For the purpose of establishing benchmarks across the city, differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey has been conducted. These benchmarks were used for georeferencing of satellite images as well as reference for the total station survey.

With reference to the DGPS points, the total station survey was carried out to map road network, compound walls and fences, buildings and other surface features.

Attribute data collection at the household level was carried out using the 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 utilised 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

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

Soil map: source NBSS 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 referee: 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 rationalised on the basis of auxiliary data of ground water and 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.

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 dis-housed 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 per cent for each aspect).
  • To promote the concept of green buildings, 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 and 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 and liaisoning. respective heads of government departments would play a role of 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 utilise the topography for generation of non-conventional energy (wind/solar) generation.
  • To add to the strengths of the town, lessen 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.


  • The 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 the development plan.
  • GIS is time and 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 and 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.