‘Ineffective planning leading to unplanned settlements’

Kathmandu, January 17

Ineffective planning and land use regulations have resulted in unplanned growth of urban settlements within and beyond municipalities, says a government report.

According to the report ‘Inclusive Cities: Resilient Communities’ recently published by the Ministry of Urban Development, this has encouraged low density urban sprawl. Upgrading of the existing housing stock and built environment remains largely ignored, entailing households to move out to the low-density area on the city periphery.

“Unregulated, informal and substandard land sub-divisions are rampant. It is difficult to control premature loss of agricultural land as ownership rights are complex due to unclear land titles and secured tenancy rights. Legal and administrative hindrances exist in the formal land development process. On the other hand, many land pooling project sites remain underutilised,” it warns.

It also says that urban agriculture has gained attention as a valid urban issue only in recent years due to international success stories. So far the tendency had been to view agriculture as a sector non-compatible to urban development. “However, there is no regulation so far to control or regulate premature conversion of farmlands into urban use. Likewise, no specific policy exists on urban agriculture. National Agricultural Policy, 2004 does not address urban agriculture,” states the report.

As per the report, land use changes are influenced mainly by investments. There is a need for integrated land use planning. Urban transport planning should be responsive to the changing transport needs brought by urban growth. Instead of managing for the transport backlog caused by rapid growth, planned integration will allow continuous balancing between land use change and transport management.

On a different context, the report says that the ability to use resources fairly is not ensured. Local governance is weak and not linked with the improvement in access of people to resources, goods, and services. “In order to make local government competent to deal with urban management problems, it should be able to create its own resource base through the creation of development fund as well as taxation. So far most municipalities depend on grants from the central government,” it reads.