IntroductionThe draft Master Plan for Trivandrum is a very comprehensive and commendableeffort that is the fruit of a very long and intensive effort led by the Town PlanningDepartment. It’s indeed impressive that a task that has been too daunting for last 25days has been completed in such short order and with the active engagement of somany stakeholders.Key aspects such as the proposal to have development centric zoning and densityguidelines, the comprehensiveness of the data gathered in sectors liketransportation and urban infrastructure, and the attention paid to the new driversof Trivandrum’s economy such as the technology, private services, education,medical services, tourism and logistics industries.The draft Master Plan is a truly forward looking document and serves as a solidgrounding to plan the development of the State Capital in the years to come.However, a number of areas exist where improvements/amendments will enablethe final Master Plan to be the basis for the transformation of Trivandrum into atrue global city in the next decade.Areas of ImprovementRather than evaluate the draft point-by-point and page-by-page, it is most practicaland most constructive to suggest broad stroke improvements in key areas whichwill result in truly transformative and large-scale impact on Trivandrum.Accordingly, inputs are suggested in five key areas within the overall master plandraft.Scope of Master PlanLand Use and DensityUrban Transit and InfrastructureEconomic DevelopmentStrategy and OrganizationsWithin each focus areas, specific inputs are enumerated in brief together with theunderlying reasons for recommending those changes.Section 1 - Scope of Master Plan The current draft confines its recommendations and plans to the TrivandrumCorporation area in most part. Even after its recent expansion, theCorporation forms but one part of the larger Trivandrum MetropolitanRegion which encompasses a significant portion of the Trivandrum District Key developments such as Technocity – which will see the development ofover 2 Crore sq.ft. of commercial space, employee over 100,000 IT
professionals, involve an investment in excess of Rs 10,000 Crores and makevery significant contributions to the economy of the district and State – islocated outside the current geographical scope of the master plan as areareas such as Nedumangad which host strategic institutions such as the IISERand IIST as well as the Balaramapuram-Neyyatinkara axis which is a nearlycontinuous, high density stretch of urbanization which extends South fromthe Corporation area till the border with Tamil Nadu Therefore, it is recommended that the scope of the master plan beextended till Attingal in the North, Nedumangad and the foothills of theWestern Ghats in the East and till Neyyatinkara/Parassala in the South,and encompassing all the areas, already urbanized or otherwise, between theborder of the Corporation and these peripheral urban centers However, this does not mean abandoning the current draft, rather it meansintegrating the master plan with the individual development plans(most of which already exist) of the outlying towns and then creatingadequate infrastructural, zoning and planning linkages across theTrivandrum Metropolitan Area. This need not be a sequential process andthe integration of the peripheral towns can be done while the core masterplan is being finalized and even as its initial stages are being rolled out As mentioned above, a formal Trivandrum Metropolitan Area (TMA) hasto be established by due process by the State Government. The master planmust act as both define this area and set the direction for developmentwithin it. Tentatively the TMA will encompass 400-500 Sq.km out of the approximately2000 Sq.km in the district and about 2.0-2.5 Million of the 3.3 Million peoplein the district Eventually this will be extended along the NH-66 and the M.C.Road to thedistrict border, also bringing smaller but important cities like Varkala underits scope. Perhaps it may be best to create the TMA with all these areaswithin its scope and to roll out the master plan to the outer areas in 2-3phases over the next 3-5 years. More than just extending the geographic scope of the master plan, it isessential to extend its strategic scope as well. This means that the masterplan should also include the mechanisms and organizations needed to ensureits proper and timely implementation. This will be dealt with in latersections.Section 2 - Land Use and Density The current draft recommends density based on a concentric model,extending outwards from the CBD. The operative logic is to maintain thecurrent density of the CBD, to encourage density in the Outer City and todiscourage development in the periphery of the Corporation. As mentioned in the previous section, the Trivandrum Corporation area isnot the appropriate basis for a 30-year master plan as urbanization has
already far outgrown it. Therefore, it is counter-intuitive to restrictdensity within the Corporation area because its peripheral areas are wellwithin the bounds of the larger Metropolitan area described in Section 1. Rather it makes sense to restrict density below that specified in theKMBR only where there are established green areas or otherecologically sensitive zones such as water bodies, water-sheds and wetlands, or if there is active agricultural activities at the present time. However,agriculture at any significant scale is an impractical activity within adensely developed urban area and is best practiced on the peripheries ofthe metro area, not within the Corporation area In terms of providing increased density – over and above KMBR, it is bestthat this be focused in relation to transportation availability andeconomic activity. Increasing density in a purely concentric fashion will ignore the practicalissues, such as the paucity of wide roads even within many parts of the coreurban area that are necessary to support high density or the fact thatfocusing density around economic hub encourages the Work-Live-Playlifestyle paradigm which helps to minimize commuting (and theconsequent vehicular use and pollution) by co-locating all the aspects of life. It is recommended that density incentives be provided to areas locatedalong primary transportation axes such as the NH-66 (Attingal toVizhinjam), old NH-66 (between Kazhakkoottam and Kaliyikkavila), M.C.Road and other 4/6 lane roads within the metro regions, as well as along theproposed route of the mass transit system (not just the current alignmentbut along the entire network as proposed in Section 3). The latter promotesTransit-Oriented Development (TOD) and will help improve the viabilityand effectiveness of the MRTS network. These density incentives may be upto 1.5-2 times the FAR prescribed in KMBR for each use but must beaccompanied by stringent parking requirements. Similardensity incentives may be granted to developments in thevicinity of (a 2 Km radius) of key economic hubs such as Technopark(Phases I – 3), Technocity, Vizhinjam port project and the educational clusteraround the IIST, IISER and VSSC in the eastern quadrant of the city. In all areas of the metro area, density incentives may be selectivelygranted to mixed-use projects that encourage compact urban developmentrather than single use development that encourages urban sprawl, which isundesirable from many perspectives. The proposal to encourage certain uses within each zone is very pragmaticbut mixed use has to be encouraged in every zone as mentioned above,except perhaps in very specific use areas such as within the logistics zonesurrounding the deep-water port or within the medical services area. It is important to identify low-density areas within the metro area to create apotential land bank for future development. Specific attention should bepaid to large swathes of Government-owned land that includedisused/under-used plantations in the north and east of the metro area.
Zoning restrictions in these areas should limit small-scale development andencourage large-scale developments in the Public Private Partnership (PPP)model.Section 3 - Urban Transit and Infrastructure The research done on the transportation patterns and demand within thecity is very comprehensive and should serve as the basis for a trulytransformative and, not just incremental,development of the metro area’stransportation infrastructure Most elements of the inner and first intermediate ring roads mentioned inthe study have already been taken up under the soon-to-be-completed TCRIPproject The first and second intermediate ring roads, as well as the outer ring road,lie within the bounds of the Trivandrum Corporationand hence aremisnomers within the context of the metro area. Hence the roads may be re-designated as follows:o Inner ring road as Core CBD orbitalo First intermediate ring road as CBD ring roado Second intermediate ring road as First intermediate ring roado Outer ring road as Second intermediate ring road All currently developed stretches of the above roads are to be developed as4/6 lane stretches (as per appropriate traffic estimates till 2033), withwide medians, sidewalks, utility ducts and drainage, well-designed andsignaled junctions, bus bays, landscaping and lighting. These roads maybe collectively developed as TCRIP Phase II with assistance from KFRB andJNNURM Phase II. The following roads to be laid out:o First Outer Ring Road:Kaniyapuram-Vembayam-Karakulam-Vilappilsala-Balaramapuram-Vizhinjamo Second Outer Ring Road:Attingal – Nedumangad-Malyinkeezhu-Neyyatinkara These roads may be developed as 6-lane roadswith wide medians,sidewalks, utility ducts and drainage, well-designed and signaledjunctions, bus bays, landscaping and lighting. Grade separators may be planned at all key intersections and power,water and sewer lines should be developed co-axially andsimultaneously with these roads. These roads may be taken up withassistance from NHAI, as outer ring roads are eligible for support underNHDP Phase VII (Trivandrum was chosen along with Vizag for pilot studies). It may be noted that the former “NH 47 Bypass” is now the NH-66 and thatthe former alignment of the NH-47 through the city has ceased to be anational highway. Many intersections such as Ulloor, Vellayambalam, Sreekaryam, Pattom,Pettah, Chackai, Kazhakkoottam, Peroorkada, Karamana and so on have
exceed their current capacities even after the introduction of signals andsignificant junction improvements. The large-scale introduction of gradeseparators has to be an integral part of the master plan All intersections where traffic volumes have already exceeded thethreshold for signaled intersections or will exceed the thresholds by2033 should be taken up for immediatedevelopment of grade separators.Key intersections include Ulloor, Medical College, Pattom, Vellayambalam,Vazhuthacaud, Pettah, Kazhakkoottam, Attakulangara, Peroorkada,Anamugham (over NH-66), Eanchakkal, Thiruvallam and so on. Since manyof these will lie on the alignment of the currently planned MRTS route as wellas on future routes, these need to be planned right now and their executionincorporated into the development of the ring roads mentioned above. Thesecan also be made part of TCRIP Phase II. The scientific origin-destination studies referred to in the master plan clearlyindicate that there are multiple key movement axes in the metro arearunning not just north-south but also east-west and radially out tosurrounding satellite cities such as Nedumangad and Attingal. Thus a single mass transit route will not suffice for a metro area the size ofTrivandrum with well over 700,000 daily trips. The master plan must incorporate a comprehensive mass transit networkthat serves the entire metro area. This will be based around a multi-route mass transit system (viz themonorail) but also incorporate other modes of transport such as commuterrail, water transport and buses. The monorail system must be quickly expanded with at least the followingtwo additional routes (indicative diagram at the end of the document):o Route 2:Kazhakkoottam – Aakulam – Airport (Chackai) – Pettah –Palayam – Vellayambalam – Peroorkada – Nedumangad (It couldterminate at Peroorkada in Phase I).o Route 3: Vizhinjam – Kovalam – Eanchakkal – Airport – Kochuveli –Veli – Aakulam – KIMS - Medical College – Pattom – Kowdiar –Peroorkada – Civil Station– Manathala – Vembayam. Since connecting stations between the currently planned route (Technocity– Killipalam with extension to Neyyatinkara) and the above ones have to beplanned in advance, it makes eminent sense to complete this planning rightnow itself. Such stations would include Kazhakkoottam, Pattom and Palayam. Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) can be considered as an alternative toLRTS for connecting activity nodes. It needs about the same RoW width asLRTS and is usually less expensive and more flexible. The multi-modal mobility hub located in Aakulam, between the NH-66 andthe Kochuveli Rail Terminal is a visionary idea and can incorporate road, rail,air, water and mass transit (Route 2 as proposed above) modes of transit. Itmay also be a great location for transit-oriented development. Commuter rail services(using MEMUs and double decker trains) need to begreatly expanded on the Nagercoil-Kollam rail corridor. The addition of two
new lines will be necessary to decongest and expand the capacity of thecurrently over-congested mainline railway system. The proposed new rail line via Nedumangad – Thenmala to link with theKollam – Shencottah line is another possible commuter axis. Nemon Railway Station has to be developed as an operations/logisticscenter with the immediate acquisition of land to permit shifting of themajority of train operations (maintenance and shunting) activities fromTrivandrum Central as well as container train operations as proposed in theMay 2013 master plan for the Vizhinjam project. The area between Chackai and Eanchakkal, on the west bank of theParvathyPuthanar has to be specifically zoned for uses related to theInternational Airport. An integrated water supply system to cover the entire metro area has to beestablished. This needs to be immediately rolled out to cover the newlyadded areas of the corporation but also to the outlying areas of the metroareas, with new systems in areas currently not covered and by linkingtogether existing stand-alone systems. The current 300 MLD capacity of thecity’s water system has to be progressively increased to 500-600 MLDwithin the next 5 years. This will involve setting up additional processingcapacity and also tapping new water sources such as the Neyyar and Pepparadams. The sewage network has to be extended to the entire Corporation areaand then progressively out to the rest of the metro area. It will be verypragmatic to integrate the laying of sewage collection lines with theconstruction of the roads and mass transit as proposed above. Since the area between Aakulam and Technocity is witnessing the greatestvolume of new commercial and residential development as well as thehighest density of uses, this zone may be prioritized for laying new lines.Most of the large new buildings in the area currently have their own STPs,but a centralized system is both more efficient and cost-effective. Considering even a water return volume of 50%, the city will need at least250 MLD of sewage processing capacity in a few years, with the currentSTP at Muttathara having a capacity of only 107 MLD. A second STP of 150MLD capacity (two phases of 100 and 50 MLD) is therefore proposed withinthe Veli-Kazhakkottam Industrial Estate. Centralized solid waste management is a necessity considering economiesof scale and the practical difficulties of managing dozens of de-centralizedplants. Plants that can convert organic waste into fuel/energy throughnon-polluting anaerobic processing should be considered. One solution may be to have the plant located near Technocity/Technoparkso that the energy produced can be used for power and/or chilling in thesprawling commercial facilities via a district energy/micro-grid system. In the case of non-recoverable, non-organic materials, an engineeredlandfill built into a disused quarry or clay mine, is the best proposition.
Large scale multi-level car parks (MLCPs) should be developed on theBOT/BOOT/BOO basis along key transportation axes and in activity hubs,starting with M.G. Road/old NH 47 (Kesavadasapuram to Karamana),Thampanoor, Medical College, Secretariat, Technopark and Kochuveli. In the next 10-15 years, power consumption in the metro area is likely toreach the 2500 Kwh/person/year level seen as a global average (and alreadyin emerging markets such as China). This will necessitate about 1000 MW ofgeneration capacity to meet the needs of the metro area and very likelymuch more if we take the increasing scale of commercial and industrialactivities into account. A gas turbine power plant, fueled by natural gas froman LNG import terminal built at Vizhinjam will be the ideal choice to meetthis need. The power plant can be developed in two phases of 1000 MW eachand the excess power exported to the rest of Kerala/India. Vizhinjam is the best-suited port in India for LNG import because of itsproximity to gas sources such as Australia, Indonesia, East Africa, the US andRussia, as well as its deep draft. An LNG terminal at Vizhinjam can beleveraged for a metro area wide gas distribution network as well asconversion of vehicles to cleaner CNG, starting with government andpublic transport vehicles. The availability of gas will also promote the development of micro-gridswhich are localized, interconnected loads such as buildings within a campusthat share power generation and chilling capacity. This arrangement is verycost-effective, efficient and resilient (in case of grid failure).Section 4 - Economic Development Construction of a world-class convention and trade center (4000 seatcapacity in Phase I; expandable to 10,000 in Phase II) has to be immediatelyinitiated in the already allocated 45-acre parcel on the banks of the AakulamLake. Considering it as one of four vital economic drivers (the others beingthe cruise terminal at Vizhinjam, airport expansion and medical tourismdevelopment) for the tourist industry, the government must take an activerole in funding and developing the facility. Worldwide, major conventioncenters are either fully or partly funded by the public sector, with the costbeing recovered through usage charges and through a tax/cess levied onhotels in the city. Vizhinjam is a world-class logistics gateway facility but if sufficient areacannot be found for a world-class logistics zone attached to the port, muchof the benefit to the local economy will be lost as these activities will happenelsewhere, most likely in the neighboring districts of southern Tamilnadu.This will also make the port less attractive compared to others such asEnnore or Mundra that have sprawling backup facilities. Such a zone requiresat least 500 acres of land. It can be a port-based SEZ even if it is not directlyat the port but has road/rail connectivity to it because of impending changesin the SEZ act. A strategic parcel with low population density and
favorable terrain (preferably a large, disused Government or privateplantation), with direct access to the NH-66 and/or main rail line may beidentified and set apart for this project. The concentration of aerospace and defense related industries andinstitutions in Trivandrum (VSSC/ISRO, Brahmos Aerospace, IIST andSouthern Air Command) make it an ideal location to establish anaerospace/defense manufacturing facility, potentially including an SEZ.Trivandrum is best positioned after Bangalore in this industry. Brahmoshas been looking for at least 50 acres of land for expansion. A dedicated100-150 acre facility may be established in the North of the metro areaand/or close to the logistics zone proposed above. Such a facility to attracthigh-value manufacturing business from ISRO, Brahmos, HAL and otherpublic and private agencies, including work for the new civilian airliner aswell as for the incoming Raphael and fifth-generation fighter projects. A Knowledge City project has been proposed in Trivandrum in May 2012. Itwill be advantageous to plan the project as a high density development inclose conjunction with the existing knowledge cluster around Technoparkwhich includes not just Technopark and Technocity but also the University ofKerala, College of Engineering Trivandrum, VSSC, CTCRI and so on. Proposedlocations include Technopark Phase III and Technocity. A key economic development initiative would be the creation of a strategicland bank within the metro area so that future developments can be easilyaccommodated as they arise. Large, under-used, thinly populated parcelsmust be identified and either immediately acquired (while land prices arelow) or selectively zoned to restrict unplanned development and to restrictnon-economic development uses (such as residential construction).Section 5 - Strategy and Organizations The development master plan must go beyond just describing what andwhen development should be done. The plan should also lay out clearlyhow (strategy) it will come about and who (organization) will implementit. The plan as currently proposed, lays out many implementationmethodologies, including land use zoning and development controls, whichare standard urban design intervention strategies. An interesting strategy to finance some of the developments is to follow theEnglish New Town Tax approach that seeks to finance projects byselectively taxing their beneficiaries. For example, levying a cess on hotels tofinance the convention center or a fee for additional FAR along a mass transitline. PPP is an absolute necessity for the scale of development envisaged in theplan and in sections 1-4 above. Various models of PPP developmentranging from the landlord model, through BOT and BOOT to the pure privateservices model can be considered as appropriate for each project.
The first key agency needed to implement the plan is the TrivandrumMetropolitan Development Authority (TMDA) which should have thefollowing powers over the entire metro area which must be formalized:o Issue all building permits and statutory clearances using a unifiedcode for the entire metro area as per the guidelines of the master plan,KMBR, National Building Code etco Plan, finance and develop all public infrastructure under themaster plan that does not fall into the mandate of existing agenciessuch as VISL, AAI, KWA, Indian Railways etco Plan, finance and develop economic development projects, wherenot 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 agencyo Act as the landlord/project sponsor for PPP development projectsand own the land and/or facilities and to collect revenueso Raise funds for development projects by the issue of bonds, raisingdebt from development finance institutions (World Bank, ADB, JICA etc) and from commercial lenders and by levying fees/taxes.o Periodically update the master plan (minor revisions once every twoyears, major updates every five years). and act as it custodian. The TMDA must have a specialized economic development wing, modeledalong the lines of the New York City Economic Development Corporation(NYCEDC) that creates strategic visions and plans, formulates projectproposals, raises funding, oversee project execution and, promotes andfacilitates private investment. The TMDA will not replace existing LSGs like the Corporation,Municipalities or Panchayats but will only centralize certain activities thatneed to be coordinated across the metro region and where scale economiesare possible. With the massive volume of transportation infrastructure developmentplanned in the next 10 years and the ever-growing transportation volumes inthe metro area, a dedicated agency is called for to integrate thedevelopment and operation of all modes of transportation. This will bethe Trivandrum Metropolitan Transportation Authority (TMTA). It willhave the following key roles:o Take over the planning, financing and development of the masstransit system from the Kerala Monorail Corporation Limited.Alternatively, it could take over operations of the mass transit linesonce KMCL develops them, acting as an operator while KMCLcontinues to be the facility owner/landlord. However, the preferredoption is to have TMTA manage the system end-to-end.o Plan and execute the inter-modal connectivity of the monorailwith the bus network and future BRTS/LRTS networks.
o Take over and expand the operations of the local bus fleet withinthe metro area from the KSRTC. This is already the case in most majorIndian cities, not to mention across the world.o Create a comprehensive multi-modal transportation plan for themetro area till 2035and coordinate its execution with other agenciessuch as AAI, Indian Railways, VISL etc The plan needs to beperiodically updated (minor revisions once every two years, majorupdates every five years).o Own and operate key transportation facilities in the metro areaincluding bus terminals, the multi-modal transit hub at Aakulam andthe mass transit stations. TMTA could also share the development costand ownership of new rail facilities with IR, with the latter taking careof operations. This will help speed up railway development as IR iscash-strapped at present.o Operations and maintenance of the road infrastructure in the city inassociation with the TMDA and the LSGs, including upkeep of streetlighting and signaling systems.ConclusionThe suggestions enumerated in Sections 1-5 above are additions and in some casesimprovements to the existing body of work in the draft master plan, which is a verycomprehensive and up to date document in itself. They are intended to expand thescope of the plan and to make it even better, a clear vision of Trivandrum can bebecome a vibrant, sustainable, world-class city, rivaling Singapore, within the nextdecade.