A master plan or a development plan or a town plan can be denoted as a general plan for the future layout of a city showing both the existing and proposed streets or roads, open spaces, public buildings etc. It is a comprehensive document, long-range in its view that is intended to guide development in the township for the next 10 to 20 years.
According to section 5(c) of the Building Construction Act 1952, "master plan" means the master plan prepared and approved under any law for the time being in force for the utilisation of any land anywhere in Bangladesh. And this provision of the Building Construction Act 1952 is pursued in section 73 of the Town Improvement Act (TI Act)1953. Section 74 (3) of the TI Act emphasises the implementation of master plan by stating that "all future developments and construction, both public and private, shall be in conformity with the Master Plan or with the amendment thereof." Section 2(g) of the Playground, Open Space, Park and Natural Water Reservoir Conservation Act, 2000 refers to Master Plan as the master plan drawn up by RAJUK, CDA, KDA, RDA. A Master Plan shall include such maps and such descriptive matter as may be necessary to illustrate the proposals aforesaid with such degree of particularity as may be appropriate, between different parts of the area.
As per section 74(2) of the TI Act, the authority may amend or alter any specific provision of the Master Plan. But the empowering provision of 'amenability' and 'alteration' does not specify the extent of power of alteration by the authority and Government. Can the 'alteration clause' of the Act be extended to the acts which conflict with the development principle enshrined in the preamble of the TI Act? This question was answered in the judgment of Rajuk v Mohshinul Islam (2001) 53 DLR which states,
"Preamble of the Town Improvement Act 1953 provides for development, improvement and expansion of the capital of Republic. Therefore, we are in agreement with the view of High Court Division that although under section 2(h) of the TI Act, RAJUK may alter layout plan, this power must be exercised with the purposes of improvement."
Furthermore, in Metro Makers and Developers Limited v BELA (2012), the higher judiciary of the country interpreted the construction work of the developers in a comprehensive connotation and harmonised the implementation of Master plan as "when the [...] Master Plan came into effect it was incumbent upon the Metro Makers and Developers Limited to obtain permission under the provision of [...] Master Plan if the area is being used in derogation of the purpose earmarked in the Master Plan."
This judicial trend of holding development plan with "public good" spirit is essential for realising the goal of sustainable development with intellectual sagacity. Because, environment-development nexus is historically imprinted as controversial one. The tactful interpretation of development plan can unleash the intricacy of age-old public debate encompassing between environment and development.
Department of Law and Human Rights
University of Asia Pacific