What do they do?
A book called City Room by Arthur Gelb, a vivid narrative on how town planning can make a city socially and economically viable, that he picked up just for a lark back in Class 12 changed Bimal Kachroo’s life. “The book impressed me tremendously and till today is my bible and occupies a prominent place on my work table,” says the 40-year-old CEO of Holistics Urban Innovation Pvt Ltd, a town planning firm.
Town planning encompasses architecture, engineering, legal aspects, economics, urban morphology and geographical information systems. After taking up science in school, Kachroo pursued architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi. He initially worked as chief architect and planner at the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) at the Durgapur steel plant and subsequently started his own outfit five years ago.
Kachroo’s work involves designing SEZs, sustainable townships and sustainable land sub-regions. His firm has recently designed the first ice skating rink of international standards in Dehradun. A government of Uttaranchal project, it is part of a R70-crore, 8.33-acre sports township. The first-ever South Asian Federation (SAF) Winter Games are scheduled to be held in Auli and Dehradun in January 2011. His other work includes a sustainable township based on zero discharge, development of SEZs, 25-acre IT parks etc. The firm is developing nano cities in West Bengal and in Dehradun.
A town planner needs to have excellent domain knowledge, good grounding in engineering and economics, good sense of construction and space, a futuristic outlook, and should keep abreast with the latest technologies, such as carbon-free and plastic-free cities where one uses recycled and reused materials for construction. “My most challenging assignment has been the green township I’m working on in Dehradun, the one where the ice skating rink is coming up. This township has a sports college –an in-house residential complex for students,” Kachroo says. His firm has recently submitted a bid to create the master plan for Srinagar city.
Town planning activities have till now been controlled by the government. The government started inviting private town planners to design cities since the last two years. “This will lead to an increased need for town planners in the years to come. With cities getting more congested and non-energy efficient and a pressing need for carbon-free, intelligent cities, the role of a town planner is going to become important. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said recently that the next 10 years will be the development decade. If there are currently 10,000 town planners in the country, almost 50,000 will be required in the next five years. Hence, there is tremendous scope in this field,” Kachroo adds.
Vibha Upadhyaya, another town planner, got her bachelors degree in architecture. “Planners help shape the way towns and cities develop by balancing the competing demands for residential, commercial, public-semi public, recreational and other infrastructure activities, to meet the economic and social needs of the community. Land can be developed and can be made worth living by developing not only the particular area but entire surrounding of that area,” she adds.