MG DEVASA­HAYAM MIS­TAKE TO MAKE CHANDI­GARH A METROPO­LIS

Mak­ing Chandi­garh a Metropo­lis will be a mis­take. Bet­ter op­tion would be to de­velop it into a ‘knowl­edge-cum-sports-city’ tak­ing ad­van­tage of the avail­able in­fra­struc­ture and tal­ent. This would also be in line with Le Cor­bus­ier’s line of think­ing

Gfiles - - FRONT PAGE - Writer is a former Army and IAS Of­fi­cer

BY def­i­ni­tion a Metropo­lis is a large city or conur­ba­tion which is a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, and cul­tural cen­tre for a coun­try or re­gion, and an im­por­tant in­dus­trial/ com­mer­cial hub. A big city be­long­ing to a larger ur­ban ag­glom­er­a­tion, but which is not the core of that ag­glom­er­a­tion, is not gen­er­ally con­sid­ered a metropo­lis but a part of it. Edict of Chandi­garh as set by Le Cor­bus­ier at the foun­da­tion of the City in 1950 reads thus: “The city of Chandi­garh is planned to hu­man scale. It puts us in touch with the in­fi­nite cos­mos and na­ture. It pro­vides us with places and build­ings for all hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties by which the cit­i­zens can live a full and har­mo­nious life. Here the ra­di­ance of na­ture and heart are within our reach.” The edict was meant to

Soon af­ter 1966 con­struc­tion spree took over with two civil­ian—Mo­hali and Panchkula— and one mil­i­tary— Chandi­mandir— town­ships com­ing up right on the pe­riph­ery. From ‘City Beau­ti­ful’ Chandi­garh be­came ‘ Tri-City’

en­lighten the present and fu­ture cit­i­zens of Chandi­garh about the ba­sic con­cepts of plan­ning of the city, so that they be­come its guardians and save it from in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic whims. The last thing Le Cor­bus­ier wanted was for Chandi­garh to be­come a Metropo­lis and, worse, a part-Metropo­lis. This is what he said: “Peo­ple say that life must come in the city from other source or ac­tiv­ity es­pe­cially in­dus­try. An in­dus­trial city is not the same as an ad­min­is­tra­tive city. One must not mix the two…. We must take care that any temp­ta­tions do not kill the goal, which was fore­seen at the mo­ment of the foun­da­tion of the city.” It was to pre­vent such temp­ta­tions and re­tain the nat­u­ral char­ac­ter and am­bi­ence of the city that The Pun­jab New Cap­i­tal (Pe­riph­ery) Con­trol Act, 1952, was en­acted to de­clare a 10 mile (16 km) pe­riph­ery around Chandi­garh as con­trolled area wherein “no per­son shall erect or re-erect any build­ing or make or ex­tend any ex­ca­va­tion, or lay out any ac­cess to a road save in ac­cor­dance with the plans and re­stric­tions and with the pre­vi­ous per­mis­sion of the Deputy Com­mis­sioner in writ­ing.”

TILL the time Chandi­garh re­mained a part of pre-re­or­gan­ised Pun­jab (1966) and some years there­after this was strictly ad­hered to. But soon af­ter con­struc­tion spree took over with two civil­ian—Mo­hali and Panchkula—and one mil­i­tary—Chandi­mandir—town­ships com­ing up right on the pe­riph­ery. From ‘City Beau­ti­ful’ Chandi­garh be­came ‘Tri-City’. There were se­ri­ous protests, some led by late MN Sharma, Cor­bus­ier’s pupil and Union Ter­ri­tory’s first chief ar­chi­tect. He launched a cam­paign against gross vi­o­la­tion of Pe­riph­ery Con­trol Act which posed a threat to the orig­i­nal char­ac­ter of Chandi­garh. Ac­cord­ing to him, there is very lit­tle land left for fu­ture growth and it should be pru­dent that all ma­jor projects be eval­u­ated and put through rig­or­ous scru­tiny of high-level tech­ni­cal ex­perts. Sharma pointed out that pe­riph­ery of 10 miles around the city was cre­ated for agrar­ian func­tions of poul­try farm­ing, dairy farm­ing and agri­cul­ture. He in­sisted that the sanc­tity of the pe­riph­ery can­not be vi­o­lated, oth­er­wise con­fu­sion and an­ar­chy are sure to fol­low. All these fell on deaf ears. What is worse, the ‘Tri-City’ is fast mor­ph­ing into a ‘Hy­dra-City’ that may turn into an em­bod­i­ment of chaos and an­ar­chy. This is the mes­sage that came across in the Pun­jab gov­ern­ment’s re­cent de­ci­sion to

Chandi­garh Ad­min­is­tra­tion ...now it has be­come over-bloated and top heavy. Num­ber of IAS Of­fi­cers has grown from 5 to 13 out of which 8 are from UT Cadre, 3 from Pun­jab and two from Haryana. From just one there are now 7 IPS Of­fi­cers

cre­ate an­other township on 5,350 acres in Mo­hali, called Aerotropo­lis, in the vicin­ity of the in­ter­na­tional air­port by ac­quir­ing agri­cul­tural land in four­teen vil­lages through a pool­ing pol­icy. Be­sides Mo­hali, these will be eight in­de­pen­dent town­ships be­ing de­vel­oped by Pun­jab around ‘City Beau­ti­ful’ af­ter Knowl­edge City, Ae­roc­ity, IT City, EcoCity, EduCity, MediCity and New Chandi­garh. To make this hap­pen farm­ers are be­ing of­fered se­duc­tive pack­ages to aban­don farm­ing in favour of ce­ment and con­crete. For this pur­pose, pro­por­tion of com­mer­cial area has been en­hanced and the de­mand of farm­ers for cash com­pen­sa­tion has been met. There are also ad­di­tional at­trac­tions such as al­lot­ting plots in the same sec­tor/zone from where the land is ac­quired and higher share of com­mer­cial area for landown­ers if they so de­sired. Now it is re­ported that two new town­ships are ready to live in at ‘New Chandi­garh’, next to the PGI to­wards Baddi in Hi­machal Pradesh. Spread over 806 acres in the foothills of the Shiva­liks, Eco City-I and Eco City-II have been de­vel­oped by the Greater Mo­hali Area De­vel­op­ment Author­ity. This will ex­tin­guish what­ever ‘agrar­ian func­tions’ left on the pe­riph­ery of ‘Old Chandi­garh’!

IN­DIA’S first Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru had en­vis­aged Chandi­garh as “a new town, sym­bolic of the free­dom of In­dia, un­fet­tered by the tra­di­tions of the past.” The city is to be a model for In­dia’s ur­ban plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment in to­tal con­so­nance with na­ture and with least dis­rup­tion to agri­cul­ture. It was never conceived and de­signed to be “a big city be­long­ing to a larger ur­ban ag­glom- er­a­tion or a Metropo­lis” Chandi­garh is fast los­ing its core and em­i­nence as the “City Beau­ti­ful” and is just be­com­ing part of a chaotic ur­ban ag­glom­er­a­tion. Nehru, Cor­bus­ier and Sharma must be turn­ing in their graves! It in this con­text that one should look at Chief Min­is­ter of Pun­jab, Cap­tain Amarinder Singh, writ­ing to the Union Home Min­is­ter seek­ing restora­tion of Chandi­garh to Pun­jab. Ac­cord­ing to him, the long-drawn dis­pute is still pend­ing and even the fine bal­ance in shar­ing of­fi­cers/of­fi­cials and other re­sources of Union Ter­ri­tory (UT), Chandi­garh be­tween Haryana and Pun­jab is be­ing dis­turbed in the re­cent past. And he ac­cuses the Union Min­istry of Home Af­fairs of in­duct­ing more of­fi­cers of UT cadre into the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Chandi­garh “with­out re­al­is­ing the

im­pli­ca­tions of such avoid­able de­ci­sions.” Chandi­garh UT came into ex­is­tence on Novem­ber 1, 1966, un­der Sec­tion 4 of The Pun­jab Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion Act. As per the orig­i­nal ar­range­ment, a Chief Com­mis­sioner of the UT, ap­pointed by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, was the head of the Chandi­garh ad­min­is­tra­tion, per­form­ing the func­tions of the Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tor. By ap­pro­pri­ate no­ti­fi­ca­tions, all the con­cerned acts and rules of Pun­jab were made ap­pli­ca­ble to Chandi­garh UT in the same form and sub­stance. The Chief Ar­chi­tect and Chief En­gi­neer con­tin­ued in the same ca­pac­i­ties, with ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity as Sec­re­taries to these re­spec­tive De­part­ments. The Es­tate Of­fi­cer was ad­di­tion­ally des­ig­nated as Deputy Com­mis­sioner of the UT. New posts of Home Sec­re­tary and Fi­nance Sec­re­tary were cre­ated to as­sist the Chief Com­mis­sioner.

CHANDI­GARH, the only wellplanned green-field city in the coun­try, was de­vel­oped in a sys­tem­atic and or­gan­ised man­ner. The le­gal frame­work for the city was set in place in 1952 by en­act­ing the Cap­i­tal of Pun­jab (De­vel­op­ment and Reg­u­la­tion) Act. This was fol­lowed in the same year by fram­ing the Pun­jab Cap­i­tal (De­vel­op­ment and Reg­u­la­tion) Build­ing Rules, the Chandi­garh (Sale of Sites) Rules and the pro­mul­ga­tion of the Chandi­garh Trees Preser­va­tion Or­der. Also, the Pun­jab New Cap­i­tal (Pe­riph­ery) Con­trol Act was en­acted to con­trol and reg­u­late con­struc­tion at the pe­riph­ery of the city up to a dis­tance of 16 km in all di­rec­tions. Un­der the pro­vi­sions of these acts and rules, an in­sti­tu­tion known as the Cap­i­tal Project Or­gan­i­sa­tion (CPO) was set up, with full ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­ni­cal com­po­nents, and clear-cut func­tions in the ar­eas of ar­chi­tec­ture and ur­ban plan­ning, en­gi­neer­ing, es­tate man­age­ment, and fi­nance. The Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tor was the head of the CPO, with a chief ar­chi­tect, chief en­gi­neer, and es­tate of­fi­cer look­ing af­ter their re­spec­tive func­tions. The CPO was a non-elected or­gan­i­sa­tion but per­formed the func­tions of both project de­vel­op­ment and lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion and had a fair amount of au­ton­omy. The Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tor was vested with pow­ers to frame by-laws and is­sue in­struc­tions re­gard­ing build­ing, land use, sale of de­vel­oped plots, preser­va­tion of trees, reg­u­la­tion of out­door ad­ver­tise­ments, pe­riph­eral con­trol, and other re­lated mat­ters. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of these was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Es­tate Of­fi­cer, who was also the ad­min­is­tra­tor of the cap­i­tal project. As per the prac­tice pre­vail­ing at our time Chief Com­mis­sioner (IAS) came from out­side both cadres. Out of the other four IAS Of­fi­cers two (Fi­nance Sec­re­tary and Deputy Sec­re­tary) came from Pun­jab and two (Home Sec­re­tary and Deputy Com­mis­sioner) came from Haryana. Var­i­ous de­part­ments were dis­trib­uted among these of­fi­cers. The lone IPS Of­fi­cer (Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice) came from UT Cadre. There was also a mix­ture of Pun­jab and Haryana Civil Ser­vice Of­fi­cers. The two tech­ni­cal chiefs (Chief En­gi­neer and Chief Ar­chi­tect) came from Pun­jab and Haryana. In­deed, there was a fine bal­ance. Chandi­garh Ad­min­is­tra­tion then was lean and thin. Now it has be­come overbloated and top heavy. Num­ber of IAS Of­fi­cers has grown from 5 to 13 out of which 8 are from UT Cadre, 3 from Pun­jab and two from Haryana. From just one there are now 7 IPS Of­fi­cers. One does not know the num­ber of de­part­ments, agen­cies, boards and cor­po­ra­tions that have mush­roomed over time to ‘ad­min­is­ter’ a city of just around 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple. Most of the top of­fi­cials are im­ported from out­side Pun­jab and

Haryana. Hence the loss of bal­ance and this is what needs to be ad­dressed. In­stead the Chief Min­is­ter is ask­ing for Chandi­garh to be handed over to Pun­jab. This is both ar­chaic and un­re­al­is­tic and there are sound rea­sons to say so. In the last over five decades, two gen­er­a­tions have grown up see­ing Chandi­garh as a dis­tinct ter­ri­to­rial en­tity. As a mat­ter of fact, Shah Com­mis­sion ap­pointed for the pur­pose of re­or­gan­is­ing Pun­jab awarded Chandi­garh to Haryana, but due to dis­pute it was made into a UT, serv­ing as the com­mon cap­i­tal of the two states with the in­ten­tion of giv­ing it to Pun­jab at a later stage. Ini­tially, this ar­range­ment was for a pe­riod of 10 years, but Gov­ern­ment of In­dia has been ex­tend­ing it con­tin­u­ously. Now it is more than half a cen­tury, with the golden ju­bilee al­ready cel­e­brated. In 1984, the Gov­er­nor of Pun­jab was des­ig­nated as the ‘Ad­min­is­tra­tor’ of the Union Ter­ri­tory and the post of the Chief Com­mis­sioner was re­duced to that of ‘Ad­viser to the Ad­min­is­tra­tor’. This was a tem­po­rary ar­range­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the co­or­di­na­tion of anti-mil­i­tant/dis­turbed area op­er­a­tions in Pun­jab in the wake of Op­er­a­tion Blues­tar at the Golden Tem­ple, Am­rit­sar. Though these ‘op­er­a­tions’ have ceased decades ago, typ­i­cal of In­dia’s gov­er­nance lethargy this ‘tem­po­rary ar­range­ment’ has al­most be­come per­ma­nent with Pun­jab devel­op­ing a huge vested in­ter­est in Chandi­garh.

SOME months ago, cen­tral gov­ern­ment de­cided to delink the Pun­jab Gov­er­nor from ad­min­is­ter­ing Chandi­garh and ap­point an in­de­pen­dent ad­min­is­tra­tor, with the rank and sta­tus of Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor. But as quickly as it was taken, the de­ci­sion was re­scinded un­der in­tense pres­sure from the former Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter who was ap­pre­hen­sive about the loss of Pun­jab’s claim over the city, par­tic­u­larly when the State as­sem­bly was fac­ing elec­tions. The Pun­jab Gov­er­nor con­tin­ues to be the Ad­min­is­tra­tor. Now the present Chief Min­is­ter wants Chandi­garh back to Pun­jab as one of its many cities or per­haps as a Metropo­lis. This cer­tainly is not the so­lu­tion. As it is with the kind of ‘ur­ban sprawl’ hap­pen­ing all around the city, par­tic­u­larly on the Pun­jab side, Chandi­garh is chok­ing and is run­ning out of breath. Load­ing it more would take away the very charm and legacy of the city. Bet­ter op­tion would be for the Cen­tre along with Pun­jab and Haryana State gov­ern­ments to de­velop it into a ‘knowl­edge­cum-sports-city’ tak­ing ad­van­tage of the avail­able in­fra­struc­ture and tal­ent. This could also partly re­alise the dream of Le Cor­bus­ier, the founder-ar­chi­tect of the ‘City-Beau­ti­ful’!

Shah Com­mis­sion ap­pointed for the pur­pose of re­or­gan­is­ing Pun­jab awarded Chandi­garh to Haryana, but due to dis­pute it was made into a UT, serv­ing as the com­mon cap­i­tal of the two states with the in­ten­tion of giv­ing it to Pun­jab at a later stage

Le Cor­bus­ier, the founder-ar­chi­tect of the City

Jawa­har­lal Nehru

MN Sharma

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