Realising a century old dream for a glorious future

The occasion was a historic one – the launch of the reproduced Sir Patrick Geddes’ first development plan of Indore by The Nature Volunteers (TNV), Indore. The Brilliant Convention Centre in Indore was the venue on 12th February 2016. The function of the book launch was held along with the Indore Municipal Corporation’s (IMC) Smart City Event.
The famous Geddes’ plan is now almost 100 years old and TNV plans to use this opportunity to bring back focus on scientific urban planning and making Indore a green city. Geddes’ plans for the cities he designed and planned, including Indore, included open spaces and gardens. He planned Indore city between 1914 – 1918. So the year 2016 is considered to be the 100th year of this plan.
Sir Patrick A Geddes (2.10.1854 – 17.4.1932) was a globally acclaimed urban planner, sociologist, botanist and educationist. He created many institutes and designed many cities around the world and India. A man of many talents, Geddes was invited by Maharaja Tukojirao III to Indore to design and plan for the evolving city of Holkars in the early 20th century. Indore was fortunate to have him plan this beautiful city, 100 years ago!
The idea behind reproducing this two-volumed master plan of Indore was TNV’s concern, much like thousands of concerned citizens, about the present-day scenario and haphazard planning of Indore city and the new urban challenges it is facing. This historic city has come a long way since it was scientifically planned for the first time, about 100 years ago. TNV decided to bring back this historically important document into the public domain with the hope of shifting focus and resuming scientific debate on better urban planning practices that would make Indore a well-planned city, a green city, a beautiful city, much the city Sir Patrick Geddes had planned it to be.
Then came the announcement that Indore has been selected to be planned and developed as a SMART CITY along with many other cities of India in the first list of the Central government. This was good news for Indore but this announcement brought with it other concerns and worries for us The Nature Volunteers. Indore is a city of great potential. But it should not just be seen as a ‘Growth Engine’ by removing its old landmarks, culture, specialties and historical monuments. Once upon a time it was green, had a moderate climate and was a hospitable city. It had some beautiful buildings, palaces and sprawling bungalows. But due to the population explosion and unplanned growth of the city, have come all the ills of urbanization – pollution, water scarcity, poor waste disposal system, crime and a definite loss of natural heritage and peace.
Cities have an inherent nature of transforming themselves with time. But most developed cities across the world have retained their originality while assimilating the change to a great extent, much like London, Prague or Berlin. By reproducing the Geddes Master Plan, TNV’s humble endeavor is to let the new generation of architects, developers, students, historians, administrators and politicians have a peep into the glorious past that may perhaps help secure a better future for the city, a Smart City! In short – Realizing the century old dream for a glorious future.
The function started with the Chief Guest Mr Venkaiah Naidu inaugurating the photograph exhibition of President TNV Mr Bhalu Mondhe. These were dozens of old photographs from his valuable collection of Indore of yore. These historical photographs took the viewers on a nostalgic tour of Indore – the beautiful, clean, green, peaceful city with its grand buildings, gardens and water bodies. The chief guest, Mr. Naidu and the Chief Minister took cognizance of TNV’s efforts to showcase the old Indore which was a good example to emulate in the new scheme of things and to retain and restore the heritage of the city. And make the city a harmonious blend of the old and the new.
All the guests of honour appreciated TNV’s role in contributing and helping with the planning of the Smart City with the reproduction of the Geddes’ Master Plan. The Chief Guest remarked that like TNV have done their bit as aware and concerned citizens, others also should help the authorities in the ambitious task of making Indore a Smart City.
After a brief description of the Geddes’ plan by Vice President TNV, Mr Abhilash Khandekar, the Geddes’ Master Plan was released – once again after a 100 years! The Union Minister for Urban Development, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, the Chief Guest of the function, did the honours in the presence of Indore MP and Lok Sabha Speaker, Mrs Sumitra Mahajan and the Chief Minister, Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
In the end, TNV members gifted mementoes to all the guests of honour.
Let’s hope this excellent blueprint from the past will guide the plans of the future and the result is a City we are all proud of.