- Varanasi (India): Perspectives and Visions of strategic urban Development of a Heritage City    click here to open paper content496 kb
by    Singh, Rana P. B. | ranapbsingh@dataone.in   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
For Varanasi, the cultural capital of India, development planning must be accordingly. The present city development plan lacks vision of heritage and culture. Recently NGOs and the public pressurize to promote sustainability and spatial quality.
Varanasi (India): Perspectives and Visions of Strategic Urban Development of a Heritage City

Prof. Rana P.B. Singh (India)

Varanasi records a settlement history since ca 800 BCE. However, the present city has grown during the early 18th century. Spreads over an area of 84.55 km2, the city is inhabited by 1.50 million people (in 2001), consisting of Hindus (63%), Muslim (30%) and other religious groups. Additionally, everyday about 40,000 commuters visit the city, which increases to 60,000 during festive season. There are ca 3000 Hindu sanctuaries, and 1388 Muslim shrines. Every year about a million Indian pilgrims come here, and approximately 150,000 tourists from abroad visit this city. Till mid 19th century the urban landscape was dominated by tracts of garden-groves and linking water bodies and drains that helped to maintain ecological order and escape from water logging. Under the ‘Master Plan 2011’ the expanded area proposed for the Greater Varanasi is 179.27 km2. The major changes since 1991 indicate a catastrophic increase of land under administrative uses (+390.50%), and public facilities (+190.63%); this results to spoil the ecological system of land use. “The Ganga River and the Riverfront & Old City Heritage Zone of Varanasi” is proposed for nomination to the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The heritage zones, areas and properties identified there are at the risk or even destruction due to immense pressures from tourism, unplanned economic development and population pressures, resulting loss to the cultural carrying capacity of the old city centre and the river ecosystem. The recent City Development Plan only emphasises infrastructural components; and completely lacks vision of sustainable strategy and heritage conservation. The move made by local NGOs and citizens has activated city administration to reformulate/change measures in these respects. Ultimately there is an urgent need to re-vitalise the city by promoting civic sense and active public participation, and coordination among various institutions in the frame of sustainable strategy.
Urban Planning, Heritage development, Riverfront Ghats, Master Plan, Public participation.
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