Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Integrated Landuse Planning and Water Resource Management (ILPWRM)
Home Project Component People Contact Us



The urban carrying capacity concept is defined as the level of human activities, population growth, land use, physical development, which can be sustained by the urban environment without causing serious degradation and irreversible damage (Oh et al., 2002).
Carrying capacity concept can be utilized in planning and development of urban areas to keep a balance between built environment and natural environment which is currently a challenging task in the face of rapid urbanization. Under prevailing socio-economic conditions, the application of Carrying Capacity concept enables to determine the optimum population that can be supported within a given area with adequate infrastructure facilities so that development is environmentally hazard free and sustainable.

The carrying capacity is not constant; it can be increased by application of improved technology depending upon the level of economy of a country. However it is an established fact that development should not only meet our present requirements but it sustains for future generations. As such in the context of urban development it is essential to determine the carrying capacity of an area for its sustainability.


Methodology for determining Carrying Capacity


The following steps have been adopted in the model in order to determine the carrying capacity.

Step 1: The hilly urban area will be delineated for which carrying capacity will be calculated.

Step 2: Based on the studies of physical features of the watershed/watersheds of the area and provision of different statutes, non developable areas to be demarcated with the help of GIS on base maps generated with high resolution imageries. Non-developable area will mainly consist of land with high slope, reserved forest area, water bodies, stream lines, drainage channels, springs and depressions, etc.

Step 3: Area required for different infrastructure and facilities which may include, water-treatment plants, sewerage treatment plants, drainage network provisions and so on will be determined. It may also include area required for other facilities like commercial, health, educational, recreational etc. While providing the area for utility services regional planning approach will be necessary. For example an urban centre with a population of 10,000 will not need a sewage treatment plant.  Again it is not necessary to consider area requirement for a specialized hospital under health facility if such a hospital is located in the region.

Step 4: Net area available for residential development can be calculated from the calculations made in the previous steps.

Step 5: Based on socio-economic status of the perspective residents of the developable hilly area an average floor area required for each person is determined. In the following exercise the floor area per person is taken as 20sq.m. Considering affordability of a five member family of middle income resident.

Step 6: Based on the above calculations carrying capacity of the study area may be determined as stated below.
AH=Hilly area (as per step 1)
ANDA=Non developable area (as per step 2)
AIF=Area reqd. for infrastructure and facility (as per step 3)
FAR = Floor area ratio as prescribed in Master Plan, Building Bye- law etc.
S=Floor area per person (as per step 5)
(FAR=Total built up area on all floors/Plot area)
Note: the term FAR is synonymous with Floor Space Index (F.S.I)

Step 7: Based on population calculated in step 6 requirements of areas for different infrastructure, facilities may be calculated using the set norms and adequacy of institutional framework may be checked. Thus, considering infrastructures, facilities and adequacy of institutional framework final carrying capacity may be decided with time.