Annual Lecture 1989, The Environmental Impact of Urbanisation, M N Buch

Mahesh N. Buch was an Indian civil servant and urban planner, considered by many as the architect of modern Bhopal. The Government of India honored him, in 2011, with Padma Bhushan the third highest civilian award, for his services to the nation. Buch has been believed to be a straight-talking, no nonsense bureaucrat. He was credited with the initial efforts in the modernization of Bhopal. The organization he founded, the National Centre for Human Settlements and Environment, focuses on the sustainable development of settlements in a holistic manner.

This annual lecture focused on the book “Environment Consciousness and Urban Planning” by MN Buch. This book and its significance was highlighted to Parisar by Mr. Vasant Rao who translated the book in Marathi for he wanted its lessons to have a wider reach and audience.

The annual lecture recognized at that time, when the cities were still growing that it was in the massive expansion of urban centres that the greatest danger to the environment lies. It attempts to understand the environmental impact on urbanization by understanding the relationship between land and man. It puts forth the lacuna that exists in the data when it comes to utilization of rural land. While the land categorised as forests, pastures, culturable wasteland and unculturable wasteland was available, there was no data for the land diverted for urban or non-village use like mining, large irrigation projects, industrial use, etc.

“Whilst land under rural use is under cyclical utilisation, that diverted to non-rural use is permanently changed in character, either by scarification through mining, submergence by dams or through diversion to a built environment. It is next to impossible to restore such land to its original use, which means that diverted land is lost forever for such purposes as afforestation, agriculture, etc.”


Read the full lecture here.