Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Planning to manage future disasters

Reconstruction - Remodelling Bhuj city into a model of quake resistant town planning is proving more difficult than expected. Damian Arnold met the planner in charge of the city's new vision.

The post quake vision of Bhuj, of seismically engineered homes spread out over open spaces, has yet to rise out of the rubble of a ruined city.

Under the recently passed town plan, the overpopulated city centre will be relocated to six residential sites on the outskirts of the city.

But despite the lure of housing plots 10 times the size of those they would get in the city, the people will not go.

'Not many people want to be relocated out of the city, ' says EPC team leader Bharati Ghodke. 'We are offering them 100m 2plots to and extra land at the very cheap government rate. They will only get 10m 2if they stay.'

The 'walled city' had around 15,000 properties at an average density of 350 properties per hectare before the earthquake, and it was hoped to reduce the density in post quake Bhuj to 200 properties/ha. Every extra property over 200/ha means that owners will have to accept a smaller home.

This will give every property access to the streets, which will be widened to accommodate fire engines and additional roads.

The new plan, which has been developed by Indian consultant Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC), is designed to prevent a repeat of last year's chaos when people ran out into the narrow streets only to be crushed by their crumbling homes. Rubble blocked the roads, making access extremely difficult for rescue services.

With the town plan for Bhuj accepted by the Gujarat's urban development corporation just before Christmas, EPC thought its work was done. But concerned that the walled city could be almost as densely populated as before the earthquake, EPC was asked to come up with a detailed development plan (News last week).

EPC's team must now draw up a database of where each destroyed property was so it can reallocate a smaller property to the owner. The task is difficult and time consuming because, after the rubble was cleared, it was often impossible to see the plot boundaries. 'We are working it out by talking to the owners, ' says Ghodke. 'It's a very contentious process and some people will lose out, but we are trying to be fair.'

EPC cannot complete its plan until each owner decides whether or not they will relocate or stay in the city. Owners are reluctant to commit themselves until they have an idea of what sort of property they would get in the walled city under the new plan. Since August, EPC's offices have been overerun by anxious residents going over their options with EPC staff.

'We are producing a plan based on most people staying here, ' says Ghodke.

When it is finished, it will feed into the overall development plan for Bhuj which replaces the existing 1976 plan which covered a 13km 2area. The new plan will expand development regulations for property structure, road network and land use zoning over a 56km 2area over the next 10 years.

Under the plan, space will be made for two new ring roads and six radial roads. Some houses will have to be pulled down to make way. 'We will try as hard as possible to let surviving buildings remain, ' says Ghodke.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.