Monday, June 03, 2013

Suggestions Anyone? - Trivandrum's New Master Plan

As many of you may already be aware of, the new draft Master Plan for Trivandrum is ready - after a gap of over a quarter of a century, the one in force today dates back from 1984 or so! The plan has been published on the website of the Trivandrum Corporation, for the general public - you and me - to review and submit our suggestions. A word of caution, the hefty 24 MB document has nearly 400 pages, so it may take some time to go through it!

The Corporation and the Town Planning Department, which authored the draft, recently also conducted a seminar to provide a venue for suggestions to be aired.

Together with a number of like-minded friends, I have compiled a list of inputs to improve the draft and make it into a true vision-setting and operational document that can help set Trivandrum on the course to be a world-class city rivaling Singapore - the best benchmark for us - within a decade. 

The document is below, for your review.

Here are some of the salient points in the document for a quick review.

  • The current draft confines its recommendations and plans to the Trivandrum Corporation area in most part. Even after its recent expansion, the Corporation forms but one part of the larger Trivandrum Metropolitan Region which encompasses a significant portion of the Trivandrum District
  • Key developments such as Technocity – which will see the development of over 2 Crore sq.ft. of commercial space, employee over 100,000 IT professionals, involve an investment in excess of Rs 10,000 Crores and make very significant contributions to the economy of the district and State – is located outside the current geographical scope of the master plan as are areas such as Nedumangad which host strategic institutions such as the IISER and IIST as well as the Balaramapuram-Neyyatinkara axis which is a nearly continuous, high density stretch of urbanization which extends South from the Corporation area till the border with Tamil Nadu
  • Therefore, it is recommended that the scope of the master plan be extended till Attingal in the North, Nedumangad and the foothills of the Western Ghats in the East and till Neyyatinkara/Parassala in the South, and encompassing all the areas, already urbanized or otherwise, between the border of the Corporation and these peripheral urban centers
  • As mentioned above, a formal Trivandrum Metropolitan Area (TMA) has to be established by due process by the State Government. The master plan must act as both define this area and set the direction for development within it.
  • ·  In terms of providing increased density – over and above KMBR, it is best that this be focused in relation to transportation availability and economic activity.

  •   Increasing density in a purely concentric fashion will ignore the practical issues, such as the paucity of wide roads even within many parts of the core urban area that are necessary to support high density or the fact that focusing density around economic hub encourages the Work-Live-Play lifestyle paradigm which helps to minimize commuting (and the consequent vehicular use and pollution) by co-locating all the aspects of life

  • ·   It is recommended that density incentives be provided to areas located along primary transportation axes such as the NH-66 (Attingal to Vizhinjam), old NH-66 (between Kazhakkoottam and Kaliyikkavila), M.C. Road and other 4/6 lane roads within the metro regions, as well as along the proposed route of the mass transit system (not just the current alignment but along the entire network as proposed in Section 3). The latter promotes Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and will help improve the viability and effectiveness of the MRTS network. These density incentives may be up to 1.5-2 times the FAR prescribed in KMBR for each use but must be accompanied by stringent parking requirements.

  • ·  The following new ring roads need to be laid out:

First Outer Ring Road: Kaniyapuram-Vembayam-Karakulam-Vilappilsala-Balaramapuram-Vizhinjam
Second Outer Ring Road: Attingal – Nedumangad-Malyinkeezhu-Neyyatinkara

  •  A single mass transit route will not suffice for a metro area the size of Trivandrum with well over 700,000 daily trips.
  • The master plan must incorporate a comprehensive mass transit network that serves the entire metro area.
  • This will be based around a multi-route mass transit system (viz the monorail) but also incorporate other modes of transport such as commuter rail, water transport and buses.
  • The monorail system must be quickly expanded with at least the following two additional routes:
    • Route 2: Kazhakkoottam – Aakulam – Airport (Chackai) – Pettah – Palayam – Vellayambalam – Peroorkada – Nedumangad (It could terminate at Peroorkada in Phase I).
    • Route 3: Vizhinjam – Kovalam – Eanchakkal – Airport – Kochuveli – Veli – Aakulam – KIMS - Medical College – Pattom – Kowdiar – Peroorkada – Civil Station– Manathala – Vembayam.

  • An integrated water supply system to cover the entire metro area has to be established. This needs to be immediately rolled out to cover the newly added areas of the corporation but also to the outlying areas of the metro areas, with new systems in areas currently not covered and by linking together existing stand-alone systems. The current 300 MLD capacity of the city’s water system has to be progressively increased to 500-600 MLD within the next 5 years. This will involve setting up additional processing capacity and also tapping new water sources such as the Neyyar and Peppara dams.
  • Considering even a water return volume of 50%, the city will need at least 250 MLD of sewage processing capacity in a few years, with the current STP at Muttathara having a capacity of only 107 MLD. A second STP of 150 MLD capacity (two phases of 100 and 50 MLD) is therefore proposed within the Veli-Kazhakkottam Industrial Estate.
  • In the next 10-15 years, power consumption in the metro area is likely to reach the 2500 Kwh/person/year level seen as a global average (and already in emerging markets such as China). This will necessitate about 1000 MW of generation capacity to meet the needs of the metro area and very likely much more if we take the increasing scale of commercial and industrial activities into account. A gas turbine power plant, fueled by natural gas from an LNG import terminal built at Vizhinjam will be the ideal choice to meet this need. The power plant can be developed in two phases of 1000 MW each and the excess power exported to the rest of Kerala/India.
  • Vizhinjam is the best-suited port in India for LNG import because of its proximity to gas sources such as Australia, Indonesia, East Africa, the US and Russia, as well as its deep draft. An LNG terminal at Vizhinjam can be leveraged for a metro area wide gas distribution network as well as conversion of vehicles to cleaner CNG, starting with government and public transport vehicles.
  • The availability of gas will also promote the development of micro-grids which are localized, interconnected loads such as buildings within a campus that share power generation and chilling capacity. This arrangement is very cost-effective, efficient and resilient (in case of grid failure).
  • Economic development - salient projects recommended include an international convention and trade center (under the landlord model of development), world-class logistics facility for Vizhinjam, Aerospace manufacturing cluster, Knowledge City and a strategic land bank for major economic development projects.
  • A key requirement to  implement the plan is a new agency, the Trivandrum Metropolitan Development Authority (TMDA) which should have the following powers over the entire metro area which must be formalized:
    • Issue all building permits and statutory clearances using a unified code for the entire metro area as per the guidelines of the master plan, KMBR, National Building Code etc
    •  Plan, finance and develop all public infrastructure under the master plan that does not fall into the mandate of existing agencies such as VISL, AAI, KWA, Indian Railways etc
    • Plan, finance and develop economic development projects, where not already under a specific agency. Even if under a specific agency, like the department of tourism (in the case of the convention center), TMDA can still be the financing and executing agency
    • Act as the landlord/project sponsor for PPP development projects and own the land and/or facilities and to collect revenues
    • Raise funds for development projects by the issue of bonds, raising debt from development finance institutions (World Bank, ADB, JICA et c) and from commercial lenders and by levying fees/taxes.
    • Periodically update the master plan (minor revisions once every two years, major updates every five years). and act as it custodian.
  • The TMDA must have a specialized economic development wing, modeled along the lines of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) that creates strategic visions and plans, formulates project proposals, raises funding, oversee project execution and, promotes and facilitates private investment.
  • With the massive volume of transportation infrastructure development planned in the next 10 years and the ever-growing transportation volumes in the metro area, a dedicated agency is called for to integrate the development and operation of all modes of transportation. This will be the Trivandrum Metropolitan Transportation Authority (TMTA)

As I mentioned in the beginning, these are but a select few of the points in the document. The Town Planning department is accepting suggestions till June 6, and I will make sure that the cumulative set of inputs makes it to the right decision makers and is given due consideration, if all of you could chip in with your points by June 4 via email or the comments facility here.

Remember, each of us has a different perspective on our beloved city and a different set of experiences and backgrounds, so we may each have at least one more point to add. More the merrier, so don't hesitate, the next time a chance like this comes along may be in 2038 (let's hope it comes a lot sooner than that!).

Thanks in advance, folks!


  1. If there is a mono rail from Technopark, that would provide ability of the city to expand.

  2. Ajay:

    The transit corridors can be simplified:
    1. KZM-NTA
    2. KZM - VZM via bypass.
    3. Thiruvallom - Manacuad - East Fort - Vazhutacaud - Peroorkada - NDD
    4. Airport - Palayam - Vazhuthacaud - Peyad

    This leaves most "lines" linear, while reaching most of the CBD, IMHO.

    Plans for TP-V:
    Plans for developments in the South - East and North - East (Places like Malayankizh and Vattapara) which are close to the CBD, have land avaialable.

    IF a district court complex is required, having it in the Civil Station area seems to be better.

    For wetland protection,
    1. start a wetland bank: The wetland bank should be used at most for organic cultivation.
    2. Allow builders to "donate" to the wetland bank in lieu of development rights to "kara" land.
    3. Other possible sources for donations to wetland bank can be considered

    Parks etc:
    For the kariavattom/Kulathur region - the KU campus has two large ponds. (One is called hymavathy lake). Creating access to it for a park can be considered, with the land and development rights still vested with KU.

    Irrigation tanks:
    The irrigation tanks in the region need protection as well. These help in replenishing water table etc. Recreational re-use, with clean up, setting up of acquatic clubs with trainers and life guards etc could work, along with access to these.

    Sports in the city:
    Making available the sports infrastructure in the schools available to public after 5:00 pm. Esp Volleyball, Basketball, soccer fields etc. could help. If security guards or personnel required, the Residents association could pitch in to help. (Or there could be a fee for use).

  3. Great plan !! Appreciate the effort. I'm seeing all of what I could think of already in the document.

    On a side note, large multilevel parking lots are immediately needed and I cant see why the Govt is holding off from these.

  4. 1) No landholder should keep a fallow land under his custody, unless it's marked for any industrial or commercial or agricultural purpose. And if so then the government should take necessary actions to take up the land from the landlord if nothing is being done in the plot within a period of six months.

    2) Branding TRIVANDRUM - A specific cell should be formed to put up special boards like (i) "YOU ARE HERE", (ii) Facts about TRIVANDRUM (Eg:- TRIVANDRUM is the "Evergreen city of India" - By - MAHATMA GANDHI), (iii) specific boards showing the importance of a particular place (Eg:- "YOU ARE ENTERING THE LARGEST IT PARK OF INDIA" at Technopark Starting Area)

    3) Specific agency like the ones as you mentioned above (TMDA) should be appointed to view all the construction activities going on in the city premises and should also be given the complete power to sanction (i)For the building of industries ( small, medium , large), (ii)commercial complexes like flats, malls and multiplexes.

    4)Forming an agency to coordinate the electricity, water and telephone cable laying to avoid the digging of roads after the tarring process, and to remove all the unnecessary posts and other poles present at the roadsides so that all cables can be made underground.

    5)Converting all government institutions, offices and shopping complexes to world class standards without much destruction process.

    6)All beaches especially KOVALAM and SHANGUMUGHAM should be upgraded with necessary entertainment stuffs like (i) water sports (as in GOA, SPAIN, NOTTINGHAM, FLORIDA etc.)(ii) Open air amphitheatres for conducting public shows like band performances, street plays, non-party oriented meetings for youth etc (iii) Hotels and resorts of all standards (base, medium, high) with entertainment arenas.

    7)A specific agency should be formed to monitor the problems faced by the public while driving, crossing roads etc. They should also check the alignment of roads and islands and should also check for the encroachment of any roads by anybody.

    8)The government should try to bring all kinds of industries ( Mechanical, Automobile, Electrical, Electronics, Civil, Aeronautical, Aerospace, Nanotechnology, Biomedical, Biotechnology) to our city not only IT which is already the best in it's class (after VIZHINJAM INTERNATIONAL SEAPORT becomes a reality).

    9)Special names should be assigned to areas depending upon the fact for which it's famous for. (Eg:- Kazhakootam - Should be assigned with a new name as IT-CITY or TECHNO-VALLEY just as bangalore and chennai which has given names for their IT-PARKS)

    10)Government should rehabilitate all the bunk stores and the traditional "THATTUKADAS" by providing them with a setup that can be attached to their vehicles to do any kind of small scale business(as practised in THAILAND).

    11) All the farmers with farm land for cultivation, raising poultry and other livestocks in TRIVANDRUM should be given assistance from the government to purchase and maintain the completely automatic machines used for the same.

    12)Drinking water outlets (with taps for hot, normal and cold water) should be installed in all major area of the city with high population density.

  5. 13) Waste collection, transportation and processing should be done with the help of the collective effort of an agency (for coordinating all the activities), a company (to process the waste by using their Waste processing factories) and a small organisation (like KUDUMBASREE to collect waste from door to door)

    14)Share taxis and share autos - this should be implemented to give a boost to the auto and taxi drivers, so that they get more runs, more money and happy customers.

    15) Special buses, taxis and autos with specially trained drivers should be provided by the government exclusively for tourists and they should be very attractive and colourful like the ones in Mumbai, London, Washington D.C, Singapore, Seoul, Zurich etc.

    16)Strict rules and fines should be enforced to restrict the people from doing the following activities - TRAFFIC RULES VIOLATION, IMPROPER WASTE DISPOSAL, DEFAMING OF PUBLIC PROPERTIES, ILLEGAL ENCROACHMENT OF PROPERTIES etc.

    17)All major areas with high population density and high floating population should have the following stuffs - (i) A COMPLETE CITY MAP - showing all the basic informations needed for the tourists (ii) A fluorescent board with emergency numbers printed on it. (iii) An FM radio system sponsored by any of the leading private FM stations. (iv) A NEWS SCROLLER should be fixed on all big buildings Eg:- Thampanoor bus terminus and railway station (like the ones which shows stock exchange rates) (v) Clocks should be installed on the top of all big buildings showing IST and international time.

    18) Night life - Should be promoted by the government in a landlord or PPP model, with all the amenities for entertainment as TRIVANDRUM is live even at night time.

    19)All the open air auditoriums should be given permission to conduct shows for all age groups at any point of time and duration.

    20)Government should introduced special restaurant chains in PPP landlord or PPP or BOT or DBOT model, which serve good quality food at normal rates.

    21) Special cells should be formed for surprise checking of quality of food products served or supplied or sold in restaurants, hotels and supermarkets etc.

    22) All water bodies inside and outside the city must be cleaned and should be interconnected if possible and special boat services or cruise ships should be introduced on those areas especially to boost up tourism.

    23) Government should plant trees annually with the help of some sponsors in all possible areas like road sides, parks, museums, open areas etc so as to retain our "EVERGREEN CITY" tag.

    24) All the textile, gold, stationery and grocery shops along with the other shopping complexes/ malls should not concentrate only on areas which are already overpopulated. should move out of the central city to reduce traffic congestion and to pull out the city for further expansion.

    25)Special licenses for keeping animals should be introduced for getting a proper statistics and for checking the health condition of animals at regular intervals so as to avoid the increase of street dogs etc.

  6. Great plan....

    I have a few suggestions

    1) We need to expand all major towns under Trivandrum Metropolitan Authority.
    2) All city roads need to expanded to 2 lanes to 4 lanes, which is 4 lanes change to 6 lanes
    3) KSRTC buses should come under TMTA and should expand to world class quality transportation system. Each buses should have tags to transmit to near bus stop (which has reciever) so that customers will be knowing their bus will be on time or there is a delay.
    4)New Bus terminus with good quality facilities such as shopping complex,parking slots should come up in Medical College and other major area of the city.
    5) Thampanoor and East fort need to be expanded with good sewage system,proper lighting,rain water
    6))Forming an agency to coordinate the electricity, water and telephone cable laying to avoid the digging of roads after the tarring process, and to remove all the unnecessary posts and other poles present at the roadsides so that all cables can be made underground.
    7)Government should try to bring all kind of industries like Mechanical, Automobile, Electrical, Electrical, Aeronautical, Aerospace, Food Processing, Biomedical, Film industry and IT

  7. Some of my suggestions...

    Regarding public parks,

    1) There seems to a lot of quarries in Mangalapuram-Thonakkal area. Gov. could freeze sale of this land, which could be later be creatively used to set up public parks and other utilities.

    2) A lot of money is currently wasted without much accountability for river/canal/lake protection, riverside slum resettlement etc. I would suggest a combined plan for beautification/protection of river banks along with slum rehabilitation under a new authority. Gov. could use the legal buffer zone around rivers/canals/Lakes to create a 10m wide walkway (as in Akkulam) in city limits. A 2
    lane road could also be built abutting it if possible. This would prevent re-encroachment of river banks and also provide a breathing space for our city. (A much smaller version of Sabarmati riverfront)

    I think the master plan should be a little more ambitious since it is for another 20-30 years.

    1) Rather than trying to move an institution like RCC to a place like chenkottukonam, it should rather be moved (if at all neccessary) to a place with NH access. Land can be acquired between Mangalapuram & Attingal where available.

    2) Relax norms on paddy field conversion for public usage at least in places near Technocity/Technopark where new city growth should be concentrated. Gov. could use schemes like - 50% for private use + 50% for Government - for acquiring paddy fields very near city (those places which will be urbanized in next 20 years). Absence of such schemes contribute only towards illegal paddy field conversion, resulting in concrete jungles without any planning.


Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.