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Planning regions - basic postulates

Planning regions are subnational areas for the purpose of translating the national
planning objectives and targets into regional (spatial) programmes and policies.

Therefore, in the first instance, planning region must be adequate to achieve the plan objectives
which essentially seek maximization of benefits arising from the utilization of resources to achieve
a minimum acceptable standard of living.

To ensure this, it will be necessary to consider for each planning region the nature of resource
endowments of the area, the present level of economic, social and physical development and the
potentials of future development. In other words, the planning region should inherently possess an
assured economic and social viability, developed or developable, derived from the resources within the

A planning region must be a viable economic entity; Economic viability may be expressed in terms of
self-sufficiency of existing and potential resources to reach a desired level of development. The degree
of economic viability may vary, depending upon the level at self-sufficiency aimed at.

Two major criteria defining this are 'production' and 'employment'. At the highest level, the region must
be capable of engendering activities that would assure near-full employment and production of
agricultural and non-agricultural commodities which enables it to meet the requirements of food and
other manufactured and consumer goods at a level laid down by the national plan. Production of all
consumer goods may not be achieved, but there should be enough to make exchanges possible.

Self-sufficiency is mainly quantitative and not qualitative; quality is dependent upon the resource
endowments of each area which will induce a process of flow and exchange of goods and services.

In addition to economic viability, a planning region must aim at a natural balance amongst the resources
and their exploitation. This natural balance or 'ecological balance' as we may call it, assures a stability of
a different type and lasting character. The fauna and flora of natural region are always balanced and
help to complete to the natural cycle, where the natural cycle is not completed
or obstructed, these are bound to result In ravines, dust bowls, depletion of soils, desiccation and so on.
To complete the natural cycle, a region must not only mountains but also plains, not only barren land
but also rich vegetation, etc. The degree of ecological balance that can be attained will be dependent on
the diversity of the resources.

Having explained the requirements for planning regions in broad terms, the specific criteria that should
be looked for in delimiting a region may be laid down as follows:

1) The planning region must be large enough to contain a range of resources, conditions and
attitudes that would help to establish the desired degree of economic viability but at the same
time, not too large as to make a comprehensive approach too general.
2) It should have adequate resources of diverse origin to enable a production pattern to be
developed, both for consumption and for ex-change.
3) There should exist an organization In terms of nodal points, either developed or developable to
satisfy the organizational needs to the region as a total entity.
4) Planning is a mechanism for dealing with resource development problems. Therefore, the ideal
regions for planning purposes will be those in which an area-wise approach to these problems is
both feasible and desirable.
5) Planning deals with anticipating the future and an area with common potentialities and
probabilities of development would be logical for planning purposes.
6) Since planning requires the development of insight on consequences of various alternatives, a
contiguous, cohesive area, within which various alternatives can be projected and analyzed, has
importance. Such internal cohesion may be the result of homogeneity of resource or their
linkages through complementarily and intra-areal activity or flows.
7) As the ultimate objective of planning is to facilitate the making of rational decision, an area
where some degree of social unity exists is desirable, so that the public can identify these
problems and accept responsibility for meeting thorn.
8) The planning regions cannot completely ignore the basic administrative units.They are, in fact, d
erived by grouping the smallest administrative unite in right combinations.The advantages keepi
ng the smallest administrative unit intact lies in the availability of data by such units and the
existence of a system of administrative communication which provides for mutual feed -
backs and appraisal of results for the guidance of future problem-solving techniques.
9) Planning regions are essentially operational in character and therefore a high degree of
flexibility and elasticity is called for in their conception as well as their delimitation.

Hierarchy of planning regions

Thus, depending on the geographical scope within which various developmental programmes could be
effectively organized and dealt with, It is possible to visualize three major area levels of operation, viz.,
macro, meso and micro. On this basis it would be possible to derive planning regions of various
taxonomic ranks by grouping areas according to the purpose of and scale of development.

Macro-regions should not only represent areas where inter-related solutions to many problems are
especially necessary, but should also have within their confines a complete matrix of all essential
resources for integrated development. Among these resources, power resources are one of the most
important, as they play vital role in determining the major lines of economic development and in
bringing about a dispersion of economic activity which is very necessary for achieving balanced regional
development, it has therefore, been sought that each macro-region should have one or more existing or
potential industrial nucleus may also be an apex centre for the region, which will have its linkages in
a hierarchy of urban-Industrial development. Each macro-region should be characterized by a high
degree of internal cohesion, forming an economic system by itself and having the liability to generate
exchanges between itself bind the other regions within the country. This compiles both complementarily
of resources and economic specialization within each macro-regions and involves an analysis of
economic ties within the region and its economic connections with the rest of the country. The concept
of self-sufficiency referred to here must be carefully understood. It does not seek to isolate the regions
into closed circuit or water-tight systems. It only implies some sort of balance in the export-import
situation between each region and the rest of the country, which should be achieved in any long term
planning. This is really a test of regionalization and has been applied in the present study only in a
qualitative sense. This should be done by more resource analysis involving the preparation of a number
of 'balance sheets', by drawing a up inter-industrial and inter-regional balances of production and
distribution of commodities and by building economic and mathematical models of planned economy
for each region and the country as a whole.

The meso-regions are sub-divisions of macro-regions. They really form the primary economic units for
the purposes of planning the main objective of delineating meso-region is to carve out viable areal
effective exploitation, conservation and utilization of resources. Economic viability implies that a meso-
region is to carve out viable areal units for effective exploitation, conservation and utilization of
resources. Economic viability at the minimum level is the primary consideration for grouping areas to
form meso-regions. Such economic viability implies that a meso-region has adequate resource potential
and established a production pattern sufficient to meet the employment needs of the people in that
unit over a period of time and, at the same time, produce enough food or offer goods which can be
exchanged for food to meet minimum or offer goods which can be exchanged for food to meet
minimum consumption needs. Economic viability could be tested by examining the per capita income of
the component units (districts). Such figures are available only for some places and cannot be used with
any reasonable degree of reliability. In the present case, therefore, economic viability of the meso-
regions has been tested by examining indicators like per capita usable land, productivity index and
manufacturing potential.

Micro-level, the region should have some unifying core problem of interest. It should include all territory
tributary to the core. The areas within a micro-region should be characterized by absence of serious
conflicting interests within the area. Its population must share certain basic attitudes, values, needs and
desires. Thus the micro-regions must be designed to represent a “community of interests" particularly
with regard to dynamic types of production, market relationships and labor supply and demand. In this
way, they will form the best possible combination of structural, organizational and functional factors.
The micro-regions are Intended to be suitably units for the formulation of area development plans, as
they will, be sufficiently close to the grass roots, affording opportunities for direct Inter action between
the citizens and the administration to decide the key a Issues In area development. They can be of three
broad types: a) They may be nodal regions consisting of urban centers and the influence areas around
them. In the case of certain nodal regions, such as those of big cities (e.g. Calcutta, Delhi, etc.), the
influence areas can be very large comprising a part of even the whole of a macro-region. The nodal
region, in such case, has been interpreted as the minimum influence areas (the metropolitan area) and
not the total hinterland. b) The micro-regions may also be primarily rural areas with a large number of
minor nodes without any organization hierarchy influencing the entire area. Here they may be
conceived essentially as service areas centered around potential growth points which may subsequently
develop into one or more systems. c) It is also possible for micro regions to be essentially problem areas
of backward areas; for example, a coal belt or a famine-prone area or a reclamation area. The
Rayalaseema area, the Chambal ravines etc.

Regional development planning in India

Regional development planning started in India as early as 1947, when Damodar Valley Corporation was
set up by an Act of Parliament. The importance of Regional Planning was further recognized in the
seminar on Regional Planning held in Tokyo from 26th of July to 8thAugust 1958. In the various
deliberations of the Tokyo seminar, it was realized that unprecedented growth of cities has given rise to
various problems, which need to be controlled and channelized into the region for striking a balance of
development between rural and urban areas. Actually it was in this seminar that the growing need for
Regional Development Planning on global scale was recognized.


A planning region is a segment of territory (space) over which economic decisions apply. The term
'planning' in the present context means taking decisions to implement them in order to attain economic
development. Planning regions may be administrative or political regions such as state, district or the
block because such regions are better in management and collecting statistical data. Hence, the entire
country is a planning region for national plans, state is the planning region for state plans and districts or
blocks are the planning regions for micro-regional plans. For proper implementation and realization of
plan objectives, a planning region should have fairly homogeneous economic, to zoographical and socio-
cultural structure. It should be large enough to contain a range of resources provide it economic
viability. It should also internally cohesive and geographically a contagion area unit. Its resource
endowment should be that a satisfactory level of product combination consumption and exchange is
feasible. It should have some nodal points to regulate the flows.

Bhat and Rao proposed a regional framework for resource development. Delineation was done with the
help of qualitative maps of distribution of important natural resources. The major regions cut across the
state boundaries. However, administrative convenience was not ignored. The scheme included 7 major
and 51 minor regions. Seven major regions include:

(1) South India, (2) Western India, (3) Eastern Central India, (4) North-Eastern India, (5) Middle Ganga
Plain, (6) North-Western India, and (7) Northern India.

V. Nath prepared a scheme of Resource Development Regions and Division of India based at the
homogeneity in physical factors, and agricultural land use and cropping pattern. Although the regions
cut across the state boundaries, the division is kept within the state limit. Thus the entire country has
been divided into 15 main and 48 sub regions. These major resource development regions include:

(1) Western Himalaya, (2) Eastern Himalaya, (3) Lower Ganga Plain, (4) Middle Ganga Plain, (5) L Upper
Ganga Plain, (6) Trans- Ganga Plain, (7) Eastern Plateaus and Hills, (8) Central Plateaus and; I Hills, (9)
Western Plateaus and Hills, (10) Southern Plateaus and Hills, (11) Eastern Coastal Plains and Hills, (12)
Western Coastal Plains and Ghats, (13) Gujarat Plains and Hills, (14) Western Arid Region, and (15) Island

Following the Soviet concept of economic regions and production specialisation, P. Sengupta (1968)
presented a framework of economic regions of different order. She started with the discovery of
planning units of the lowest order and then grouped and regrouped them to achieve planning regions at
meso and macro levels. In her scheme of economic regions, Sengupta gave much importance to natural
regions and used modality, production specialization and utilization of power resources as bases of
delineation. Her 7 macro regions are further divided into 42 meso-regions. These 7 regions include:

(1) North Eastern Region, (2) Eastern Region, (3) Northern Central Region, (4) Central Region, (5) North-
Western Region, (6) Western Region, and (7) Southern Region

C.S. Chandrasekhar proposed a scheme of planning regions. He divided India into 13 micro and 35 meso
planning regions. He used the criteria of physical economic and ecological factors to demarcate the
macro planning regions. These regions include:
(1) South peninsular region, (2) Central peninsular region, (3)Western peninsular region, (4)Eastern
peninsular region, (5) Central Deccan region, (6) Gujarat region, (7) Western Rajasthan region, (8) Aravali
region , (9) Jammu & Kashmir and the Ladakh region, (10) Trans Gangetic region & the hill regions, (11)
Ganga-Yamuna plain region, (12) The lower Ganga plain region, (13) North-Eastern region

In 1968, the Town and Country Planning Organisation suggested a scheme of planning regions
delineated on the principle of economic viability, self-sufficiency and ecological balance at the macro
and meso levels. The emphasis of the scheme was to introduce regional factor in economic
development. This approach would complement the macro planning at the national level, with a
component of regional policies, aimed at reducing regional disparities in the development. The macro-
regionalization sought to link a set of areas, rich in one type of resources with areas having complemen-
tary resources or even resource poor areas, so that the benefits of economic activity in the former may
flow into the latter. These planning regions cut across the State boundaries, but do not completely
ignore the basic administrative units. The 13 macro- regions proposed under the scheme include:

(1) South Peninsular (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), (2) Central Peninsular (Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh (3)
Western Peninsular (western Maharashtra coastal and interior districts), (4) Central Decca (eastern
Maharashtra, central and southern Madhya Pradesh), (5) Eastern Peninsular (Orissa, Jharkhand north-
eastern Andhra Pradesh and Chatting (6) Gujarat (Gujarat), (7) Western Rajasthan, (Aravalli Region
(Eastern Rajasthan and wasted Madhya Pradesh), (9) Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (10) Trans Indo-
Gangetic Plains and Hills (Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, West Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal), (11) Ganga
-Yamuna Plains (central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, and northern Madhya Pradesh), (12) Lower Ganga
Plains (Bihar and West Bengal Plains), and (13) North-Eastern Region (Assam and north-eastern states
including Sikkim and north Bengal).

Under the directorship of Professor S.P. Chatterji (1966), the National Atlas Organisation proposed a 4-
tier scheme of economic regions. In this scheme macro regions constitute a group of states delineated
with reference to the factors like population, politico-historical considerations, economic ties,
agricultural output, and complementary character of natural resources.***