Talk at RUPSON, 2024

Talk delivered to the General Body of RUPSON, 2024

* Not to diminish the personalities like Hammurabi, Hippodamus, … rather to quickly come to modern days, we can say the filth, overcrowding and pollution of the Industrial City of the British, the deaths of 1850s, and the ‘public health concern’ brought to focus the idea of urban planning – For one hundred and fifty years, this has been the dominant objective of planning to service (transport, communication, housing the labor, providing water, power etc and extracting sewage and other harmful wastes) productive land uses. Pollution as an issue to contain has remained dominant too, particularly as the industries and settlements got closer and into each other.

*Conservation, sustainability, climate change, ecological and health issues of not only man but earth itself have dominated concerns of urban planners for couple of decades now. With the new millennium in place, towns, which had all the while ‘planned’ to put nature on the outskirts, have sought to bring nature in and introduce consumption and production processes that seek to balance nature /green/blue in towns and integrate the panchatatwic interplay of materials and environment.

*Despite the fact that urban planning has generally failed and has very few cases where planning success can be even claimed at all, it remains a professional specialization to recon with – as this gathering today shows.

SO CONGRATULATIONS – In post 1960-Nepal, we are now in 15th plan period?… we go on – I suppose we are mostly physical /spatial planners here today and our breed can claim consolidation since 1962…

>> LUTO plan masters > architects posing as planners/advisors/ geographer at helm/Regional planning > Harka Gurung Carl Pruscha combine (The Kathmandu Valley Plan generation) + UN Experts (reduced to non-entities by acts of CP/HG/GNR etc in early seventies

Planning by FIAT period – King Birendra, his four regional centers and task mastering visits – amid this I butt into the fraternity in 1973 – that’s fifty years there already!

1973: June – Birendranagar Plan – The Daily wage architect is dispatched to ‘show’ visible progress and takes the helm at Surkhet – MBM and GNR prod. The street is laid out and the earthwork begins


1975: Fears and Wishes in Planning – The skyscrapers in the valley rim and low rise traditional settlement pattern and architecture remain galore growing at the slowest rate possible? 

Urban Planning of KATHMANDU VALLEY

Whatever planning I learnt from class and teachers was at University of Hawaii, where I was doing March with tropical housing as speciality and took a fair number of courses in URP under Prof Minervi, Prof Wu and Dr Yeh, whom some of you would have read/studied under, maybe.


IOE Urban planning > Expertise of SPA /NTNU / 1995 1996

Before starting to take classes – I did a three week stint at the Planning Library SPA

Lewis Hopkins. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign > 97- 98

Learnt a lot from him too as he taught with our class here

– 1997/2008 at IOE Logic of Making Plans (2001) >

Scenario planning > only push to preferred scenario through intervention of Trunk sewerage and link roads – How Prof Lew was amazed at our sincere theoretical planning efforts even as

Comprehensive Planning and New towns were both dead where ever they had originated  – but LUTO stayed on as a easy tool in Nepal ?? But even then with

Nepal tries every known approach and theory – whatever the American and British Universities and the UN experts (who appear to have taken a as deep a look into these as they could) – Comprehensive planning, Land Use and transport organization, Master planning, Structure Planning, IAP (Integrated Action Planning – what a soothing success that was – it was even being touted by UN expert planners as Nepal’s contribution to Participatory Planning literature to the planning world)

But alas with our kind of Land ownership and elitist urban living, bureaucratic professionalism, decision makers wrapped in falsehood, nothing worked even with the great prodding and faithful support of King Birendra that had continued to the end of royal days!

Hill Towns > Mid hill road >>

New Towns >  District, Province, Election District > Numbers increase

New Constitution (2015) gives Urban infrastructure and Services to Province and Local Government

Public Good/Goods, Public Policy, Urban Development and Urban Planning

We are still hoping that the very meagre investments in Urban Service of water, power, communication, sewerage can bail our towns out and plotted development (using LP tool)




Engaging the Future > Heritage and Tourism??

>>> Issue of governance becomes key along with infrastructure, Services and urban poverty

GLD/LP >> Integrated Action Planning >  Is this kind of planning action useful? Can it address the kind of problem we have – How do we engage into the future > bring hope back to living in our own place managing life within our possible economies

New Town – Satellite City – Smart City – Climate Smart city > Eco-city


National Government > Integrated urban development policies and urban corridor development > tourism potential/Heritage Assets > sporadic and limited field actions and projects under RUDP/NUGIP – will they save our bigger towns?

Urban Development Policy > Shelter/Housing Policy

Developer led >>> Bubble economy of land transactions and housing units/plots ..Falling/Failing population >

No we need to change the over arching philosophy in planning itself > go for

ECO-CITY >> ECOLOGY  >> Broad planning Ideals > control through Building > it was not failure of plans and planning that led to unsustainability – climate change and challenged health of earth

>> five banes of present day town/urban development > HOT, DRY, GREY, Deserted by other living/life, Undisposed solid waste

>> five ways to building eco-city of the future > COOL, MOIST, GREEN, Living with other animals (birds, fish and earthworms)

>> learn from the tree >  seek to bring nature into towns and introduce consumption and new production processes that seek to balance nature /green/blue in towns and integrate the panchatatwic interplay of materials and environment.

And, here I end, Good Luck!