Through its Master Plan, Auroville wants to break new ground in settlement-planning in such a way as to help other cities, both in India and abroad, which are experiencing high urbanisation trends. Auroville also hopes to demonstrate how 'urban' & 'rural' areas can complementarily develop in an integral and holistic way for their mutual benefit and well-being. We talk about an 'integrated' masterplan, implying here that both city and environment are integrally planned for, since Auroville has come to care for its 'hinterland'.
Undesirable trends in urban growth
Until recently, urban growth was considered undesirable, and all policies emphasised how migration from rural areas could be checked. However, these policies have not succeeded, with the result that urban areas are becoming more and more degraded. Presently, both national and international opinion is in favour of urbanisation, as they have become engines of development, and emphasise policies that promote it. Taken too far, these policies may also become untenable, because of the heavy toll urban areas impose on limited natural resources. They may also disrupt the food security of the entire nation. This is why planners today are talking of establishing rural-urban linkages.
Concerning village settlements
It is common knowledge that expanding urban areas encroach not only on valuable agricultural land, but also tend to surround village settlements in such a way that they become islands of poverty, with scarce infrastructure, in neighbourhoods which are otherwise well served with infrastructure. It is also seen that village settlements, even at a stone's throw from the limits of a city, have no semblance of improved quality in housing, sanitation or quality of life.
Auroville's approach aspires to go much further. The approach of its Master Plan is to establish that the economic and human intellectual resources, which normally gravitate to urban areas, can be effectively used to spread development more evenly, and to create an equitable and economically sound society. This is, more often than not, presently not the case in regard to the way cities are planned, developed and are functioning.
Optimum mix of densities
Auroville's concept is to build a city that will economise on land needs by introducing development approaches with an optimum mix of densities and appealing urban forms and amenities, while the surrounding Green Belt will be a fertile zone for applied research in the sectors of food production, forestry, soil conservation, water management, waste management, and other areas which assist sustainable development. The results of such innovative methods will be available for application in both rural and urban areas everywhere in support of their development.
The aim of the planning exercise has been to identify a broad framework and structure within which all development in Auroville, whether physical or socio-economic, can fit. It is also to include a structure of existing and planned land-use, indicating the possible progress to be made in development of the various parts of the city's development and forming a clear and transparent basis for its overall direction.
Stages of developing the Auroville Master Plan
According to the latest Guidelines of UDPFI ('Urban Development Plans Formulation and Implementation', a publication prepared by the Institute of Town Planners of India, ITPI, and published on behalf of the Ministry of Urban Development), the approach to planning needs to be in three stages:
1. Perspective Master Plan >> more
A very broadly based plan, incorporating planning policies and general structure of land use, transportation and scale of amenities.
2. Development Plan
This plan builds up on the Perspective Master Plan. At this stage, the ground realities will be reviewed in detail. At this level also, much more data, information and collaboration from the community will be required.
3. Annual Plan (Implementation Plan)
The Annual Plan, conceived within the framework of the Development Plan, will contain the details of new and ongoing projects to be implemented during the financial year.
The Auroville Universal Township Master Plan Perspective: 2025