Thursday, May 3, 2007

Central Planning Approach to Cities

I just posted the following comment on the "Designer Cities" article at the Indian Economy Blog.

If there is one thing that history has taught us it is central planning / communism never works. Even when the intentions are noble nobody can ever anticipate the markets.

With prosperity people would want to live in high rises with 1000 other people. They might want to spread out to suburbs where they can have an independent house. With this demand a new market will be created. And that would be the end of these DeCi's. Over a period of time 50 - 100 years they will become cities like the ones we have today.

I would love such planned cities but I see 2 problems with the approach.
1> Its highly unlikely such cities can be created out of scratch. Cities are born when people can find employment. I am just aware of Chandigarh which was created from scratch and that had government for its employer
2> Even though cities can be planned nobody can anticipate what the future development might bring. Cities have to continually evolve. Look at Chandigarh today, it is congested. Yet when it was created in 50's the designer thought he had more than enough space, parks, wide roads. Who is to say what will happen in future. We might not even travel by cars because everyone will have their own flying cars. Who knows. So to say everybody will travel in train is making an assumption that mode of transport will remain the same. And that is unlikely

Instead I would rather hope the government (central planner) invests in the infrastructure. If the government can provide connectivity (road, air) and energy (electricity) across all the major Indian cities (1 to 5 cities in each state depending on state size) that will in turn ease the pressure on the metro's making them more livable.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree a bit here.
    NOIDA is one such centrally planned city where employment is mainly provided by non-government companies. Infrastructure across cities is fine, but the infrastructure within a city is what affects the lives of its residents most.
    On the other hand, we can take Bangalore's example. It is very well connected to major cities like Chennai and Hyderabad , but lack of planning within the city was a major lacking area on which the goverment has statred working very lately. I agree that Bangalore is an already evolved city , but so are Delhi and Mumbai, where planned suburbs eased most of the day to day problems of their residents.