The Role of Public Participation in Speculating Native Potentials

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Art & Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University,Tehran, Iran


In the settlement plan, which was designed for the people who were displaced as the result of the Karoon3 Dam Project, participatory planning was used. The first phase of the overall plan was implemented. However, it did not last long. This paper aimed to; in the first place, document the experience of the applied participation, and in the second place, to answer the two following questions: what role does participation play in the phenomena of relocation? And, what possible role could participation have played in the discontinuation of the relocation plan? To this end, the article: First, considered the impoverishment, a new and and unprecedented approach in Iran –, due to relocation. It was made indigenous and was given the title of “the relocation and reemployment”. At first, it was necessary to make assumptions on the feasibility of this approach on the location. New understanding - perhaps for the first time - of participation was reached. Thus, the participatory work was done as a particular step in the planning process. This was done for the purpose of speculating the fact that whether the selected approach for planning, in the target area is a feasible and proper one or not. Second, public participation, direct involvement of the citizens in the preparing process of the development programs, has an impact on their lives. The effectiveness of participation depends on two aspects. The first aspect is the methods and the techniques used for the specified purpose. The second aspect is the political conditions of the people`s involvement in the planning and decision-making system. Required participation in relocation schemes meant understanding the complexities in formulation of coexistence strategies of the tribal families in a new location. In other words, figuring out how to situate all the displaced families who came from different backgrounds properly in the new settlement location so that the existing sense of community would survive in them. Furthermore, finding a job, which was the same or at least compatible with their occupation in the old location, was another dilemma. Therefore, participation was carried out aiming to inform the public and get information from them in the fields of ascertaining settling styles in the manner acceptable to the people, finding places for resettlement, recognition of the desired conditions for living harmoniously side by side, and finding employment in the local area for the displaced. The participants consisted of two groups: a group of stakeholders on which the methods of public and formal meetings, brainstorming, talks, and interviews with officials were implementing. The next group was the group of displaced persons. On this group, public participation was implemented in three stages. Each stage had specific aims, responsive methods and techniques. These were carried out using two questionnaires and a declaration. The final summary of the process paved the way for the relocation and reemployment pre programs, that - if continued, these pre programs would have become the procedure for the executive phase. Conclusions on participation for relocation resulted in, first, the classification of the coexisting groups and how and where to place each group. The second result was the spatial planning of the relocation, and third was the resettlement methods and the proposed spatial planning for each method. In the case of the re-employment, to identify the new and the traditional local employment possibilities for the displaced, it led to their reemployment. In other words, those who had become unemployed due to the relocation, all became employed in the new settlement. The third point is that public participation would fully take place and be implemented, if an institutionalized mandate comes from the top brass and is executed by the people in the lower echelon. In the absence of such a legal institution, maximum performance of a participatory movement, which would hold in the process of the plan preparation, will not be possible, because it only will be planner’s initiative, and thus, will not be able to withstand the challenges of the known socio-political barriers face by such movements. 


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