The Master Plan: An Explainer

Master Plan Feb 16, 2021

What is a Master Plan?

The Third Five-Year Plan defines the Master Plan as a ‘statutory instrument for controlling, directing and promoting sound and rational development and redevelopment of an urban area with a view to achieving maximum economic, social and aesthetic benefits’. It is a document used by the competent authority in each city to demarcate zones in their respective cities and assign land-uses to them.

One of the objectives of undertaking such demarcation is to prevent irreconcilable land-uses from co-existing. For instance, if a heavy industry is established near a residential area, it may end up jeopardising the health of the neighbourhood. Of late, however, there is a considerable push to bring in a mixed-use approach to planning. It is claimed that such an approach would allow for a more holistic development of the city. For instance, the setting up of grocery shops in the vicinity of a residential area would benefit both the shop-keepers and residents. Many Master Plans such as, the Delhi Master Plan (DMP) of 2021, have made provisions for Mixed Use.

Who formulates the Master Plan?

The public authorities empowered to authorise Change of Land-Use vary by state and city. They are not necessarily the same authorities which are responsible for formulating and implementing the Master Plan. These entities range from the relevant urban development authorities and state revenue departments (e.g., in Ghaziabad) to the town planning authorities (e.g., in Faridabad).

The process of Master Plan formulation in Indian cities

There are many commonalities in the drafting process of the respective Master Plans of all the cities in India; the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) issued the ‘Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) Guidelines’ first in 1996 and then 2014, to recommend an overall process of plan formulation in urban areas.

Below is the process followed by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) while formulating the Delhi Master Plan (DMP) of 2021 for the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

On paper, the process of Master Plan formulation involves multiple stakeholder consultations. However, some studies note that that in practice, this does not necessarily mean that all valid concerns are taken into consideration. Thus, the Master Plans may not end up reflecting the reality of land-use in their respective cities.


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