New towns: an opportunity to climate resilient cities
The government of Nepal has initiated a ‘Mid-hill Town Development Project’ to develop ten towns across five development regions from the FY 2071/72 (2014/15). The selected towns are located along the Mid-hill Highway. The initiative, launched under the vision outlined Decision 067/68 (2009/10) on New Towns Development, is expected to contribute to a more balanced urban development and ensure environmental sustainability goal 7 of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The selected towns are in early stage of planning creating an opportunity to better address climate resilience and integrated urban development in their planning and infrastructure growth. ”By conducting vulnerability assessment and adopting appropriate mitigation measures in an integrated town development plan, climate change risks and natural disasters can be minimized as the town grows”, says Mr. Umesh Bahadur Mall, National Consultant for the Mainstreaming Climate Change Risk Management in Development (MCCRMD).
Based on a feasibility study, the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction has proposed Phidim (in Panchthar district), Basantapur (Terhathum), Khurkot (Sindhuli), Baireni Galchhi (Dhading), Dumre (Tanahun), Burtibang (Baglung), Chaurjahari (Rukum), Raakam (Dailekh), Sanfebagar (Achham) and Patan (Baitadi) as potential locations to set up modern towns.
The main objective of the Project is to develop and construct urban infrastructure in the proposed 10 towns along with junction of Mid-hill highway and North-south corridor by the year 2090 BS (2033 AD). In addition the the Project aims to:
a) Develop physical infrastructure for 100 thousand population in each town,
b) Promote the proposed town as service center of the area through planned city concept,
c) Prepare strategic plan and program for settlement development, land use and development,
d) Support rural development through developing agriculture, educational tourism, service and industrial area,
e) Develop cities through reducing migration to terai, big towns and agricultural valleys
“In these towns, government is preparing ‘integrated town development plan’, constructing basic infrastructure and obtaining land for infrastructure” says Acting Chief of the New Town Coordination Unit at the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction Mr. Chakarwarti Kantha.
According to Mr. Kantha, Khurkot, Baireni, Phidim, Basantapur and Patan are ahead of others in-terms of planning and infrastructure development. In response to integrating climate change issues, Mr. Katha said the integrated town development plan has two sub-plans on i) environmental management and, ii) disaster risk management. These two sub-plans will address issues on climate change. In addition, the Asian Development Bank supported MCCRMD implemented by the Ministry of Population and Environment also exploring possibility of integrating climate change into integrated town development plan of the Saphe, Accham District.
Landslide and flood are two major climate change threats to any of the urban centers, says Mr. Umesh Bahadur Mall, National Consultant for the Mainstreaming Climate Change Risk Management in Development (MCCRMD). He explained that the ‘integrated town development plan’ will incorporate land-use planning and infrastructure development plans that are climate resilient and environmentally sustainable. For example, the land use plan must consider climate change threats through identifying environmentally sensitive areas such as ponds, river-system, forest, biodiversity, and other factors. If needed special rules and regulations will be enforced to protect such resources. Designing and constructing physical infrastructures such as drinking water, drainage, and roads, will also consider climate change risk. Construction must be prohibited along the river bank to protect people and infrastructure from risks of flooding.