What is it about?

Uttarakhand is a state in the mountainous region of the Himalayas in India. The region is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and landslides. In recent years, the state’s population has grown rapidly. This has been accompanied by unplanned urban development, to keep up with the population’s needs. And due to climate change, extreme weather events have become more common in Uttarakhand. Some examples of these are the extreme rainfall events that occurred in 2010, 2012, and 2013. The state’s geography adds to the problem, fueling the risk of natural disasters. To counter this risk, strict building regulations and land use plans are required. But, public pushback and a lack of resources and know how prevent such urban planning strategies from being enforced. This study tracked the challenges of urban planning and lack of land use maps in a town in Uttarakhand. The authors then offered their inputs on how to combat these challenges and explore the value of land use plans in addressing disaster risk.

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Why is it important?

State and regional level authorities face many challenges while drafting land use plans. But, they have limited capacity to do so. Moreover, the resources available to planning bodies are not specific to mountainous regions. They do not consider local knowledge and factors. This creates a disconnect in urban planning efforts. Also, the local municipal bodies have little influence over the execution of urban planning, though they are better equipped to take stock of the situation. To deal with this disconnect, local municipalities should include town planners. The planners can then control land use and enforce building regulations. This can lead to better planned towns that are more resilient to natural disasters. KEY TAKEAWAY: There is an urgent need to shed light on the risks of unplanned urban development in mountainous states like Uttarakhand. This calls for the adoption of urban planning strategies in the state. To this end, it is essential to draft a state level land use framework, raise public awareness, and improve disaster risk know how through the combined efforts of multiple stakeholders.

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This page is a summary of: Urban Planning as an Instrument for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Uttarakhand Himalayas, Mountain Research and Development, May 2022, International Mountain Society (IMS) and United Nations University, DOI: 10.1659/mrd-journal-d-21-00048.1.
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