Hyderabad: Adapt Technologies and Consultancy Services began its journey in Hyderabad in the year 2000. Since then, it has been a stakeholder in city’s urban planning development projects. “We have been part of the knowledge pool for mapping the city for the last 18 years,” says Maheep Singh Thapar, its managing director and principal consultant.
The urban planning and strategic advisory company has been a part of the Metro rail project, Outer Ring Road, and HMDA masterplans.
“Our journey in 2000 began with the IT wave in the city. When demand for land increases, there will be a proportional increase in demand for roads, parks, sewerage, parking, transport, health, education and other social infra,” says Thapar, adding that this got Adapt associated with the planning of Hyderabad as consultants and advisers at multiple levels.
The pace of development picked up in 2000 and was steady till 2010. However, from 2011, it saw a rapid pace. “Cities will transform all the time. They cannot be static as more people get attracted to the city,” reasons Thapar.
Cities historically have been job providers and trading hubs. A city master plan is a statutory requirement to give a direction to the growth. There will be many plans, suggestions and recommendations but not all will go up to the implementation stage, he says.
How big can the city get?
According to Thapar, city planning also includes regional planning — that is, surrounding areas. “Planning happens many years ahead of implementation. In 2006-07, we supported the Metro rail project in identifying the lands for stations and parking, landing and other aspects,” he says.
The new transport mode will ease traffic snarls now. The City will continue to attract people from far off places. There are proposals for a mono rail in certain parts of the city. Such efforts for promoting a multi-modal transport system have to be continuous to improve the existing infrastructure. The big challenge will be mobility as the city moves towards economic centres. It is here that public participation is needed, he says. “Cities take time. They get built by governments, infrastructure projects and companies moving there. But there will be reviews and some things will change. Now, everything is again in focus as the newly formed State needs a new growth direction.” According to him, mobile technology, apps, internet, social media and startups are defining the growth. For instance, food apps are changing the way food is ordered. Cabs are changing the way people used to travel. “Urban planning is improving the quality of life for human beings.”
Macro-level infrastructure — water, power, sewerage, road and solid waste management — are key concerns. “We need a full-fledged policy to tackle parking woes. We should focus on asset creation, management and a payment system for the success of the retail sector,” he says.
The city size is increasing. The location of jobs and residential units has changed. Population increase is putting pressure on infrastructure needs and transportation. There are push factors in rural areas as agriculture is no longer attractive to the newer generation.
“In our field, technology, maps and time are key. We are deep into mapping including remote sensing, use of satellite imagery, GIS to save time. The data generated is given to the government and some of it is already in the open domain. Data has to be integrated and reused. Our team has 10-12 people and we hire more as projects come,” says Thapar, who recently visited the US as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program-Urban Planning and Smart Cities, sponsored by the US Department of State. The visit focused on planning and managing urban issues and being resilient to environmental, economic and social challenges.