Nagpur which appears as one single city is in fact a twin city strategically planned by different rulers in different periods. The present Nagpur was occupied by 12 small hamlets known by the name of "Rajpur Barsa" till 1686 A.D. The inhabitants were primarily Gonds and Adivasis in the wooden fort on the hills at Deogarh about 30 miles from present Chhindwara.
Deogarh kingdom included whole a Modern Chhindwara, Nagpur, Bhandara, Seoni, Balaghat, Betul and Hoshangabad Districts upto Chanda in the South. The Deogarh kingdom gained prominence and enjoyed power for nearly 200 years from Raja Jatba's period till the conquest by Raghuji Bhonsla. The Gond Rajas moved from Haryagarh to Deogarh and to Nagpur as their political power slowly flourished.
Bakht Bulland Shah formed Nagpur city after 1686 and named it so after lord Nag. Nag River (Nag Nallah) was actually a waste water stream and then Nagpur was located on it's banks. Bakht Bulland shah’s eldest son Chand Sultan became the king in 1706 and made Nagpur his capital by shifting his court from Deogarh Fort. Raja Chand Sultan constructed the Killa palace in Mahal and fortified it with a 3 mile wall in circumference. An emblem of Nagpur as the Capital of Deogarth Kingdom and ruins from that by-gone era, still exists in Mahal area of the city. He prepared the first Development plan of Nagpur city and continued it’s work for next 33 years of his regime. During this time, he constructed Telengkhedi Tank, Telengkhedi Garden, Ambajhari Lake, Maharajbagh, Sukrawari Tank and the remains of Killa palace. The planning and implementation were based on perfect town planning principles.
The city’s misery began after the death of Raja Chand Sultan in 1739. Due to infighting, Raghuji Bhonsla, captured Wali Shah to reinstate Burhan Shah on the Kingdom of Deogarh. As gratitude the kingdom’s part comprising Gondwana, Pauni, Marwad and Balaghat were given to raghoji Sena Saheb. The Maratha chieftain came and lived in Nagpur and Deogarh. In 1742 A.d. Raghuji Bhonsla got established in place of Raj-Gond Maharajas and the Deogarh family was ousted without any bloodshed. Under the Bhonsla regime the condition of the city deteriorated further due to infighting. Finally the Bhonsalas lost power to the Britishers in the battle of sitabuldi on November 26-27, 1817.
The British Government realizing the locational importance of Nagpur amended original city plan of Chand sultan to meet to their requirements. In 1936 the Britishers established Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) for city’s development. The city became the capital of Central Province & Berar state and old Madhya Pradesh. After re-organizing of states, half of Deogarh Kingdom went to Maharashtra as also Nagpur, which was adopted as the second capital of the state, but actually it deserved the status of the second capital of India.
Britishers, with the help of M/s Patrice Geddes and S.V. Lancaster, famous town planning experts planned to convert Nagpur into a garden city. The Britishers mooted NIT to provide controlled expansion of Nagpur city. The Civil Station Expansion Scheme was subsequently sanctioned as NIT scheme on June 20, 1939.
The Britishers wanted to develop their own city to the west of old Nagpur which was the capital of Deogarh Kingdom. Nagpur was being developed to enable Britishers to control its operations from Nagpur and hence a second twin city was planned and action started since 1853 D.D. Itself. Britishers wanted to establish Governor’s province at the centre of India to rule the nation from spot of old Nagpur. At Sitabuldi Britishers constructed GIP Railway from Bombay to Nagpur with main station on the east of Sitabuldi Fort and extended Nagpur-Itarsi Line and opened Delhi-Madras route dividing the old Nagpur on East and North Nagpur and West and South Nagpur. Three major water tanks were planned by the Britishers to control the strategic points as check points. Historically the present Nagpur Mahanagar Building was the official residence of the British agent – Chief Commissioner. The National Highways used to cross at Variety Square as the only junction crossing of East, West, North & South Trunk Routes. With the main railway and road junctions on the west side in Sitabuldi, the Britishers planned full control of this junction to control the city.
It was so planned as to keep the present Mahal area as the City Centre in old Nagpur and the City Centre of new Nagpur was proposed at the Square crossing South North and South East running West High Court Road and East West running Central Bazar Road at Bajaj Nagar. The Policy was to provide city center to both the city on East and West of railway line crossing. Variety Square area was to be kept free from all congestions. The Sitabuldi main railway station, variety square were placed close as important centers controlling parts of the twin city.
Two Master plans were formulated and established by NIT – Civil Station Expansion Scheme of over 3,000 acres between Wardha Road and Amravati Road junction of est and west Sitabuldi as center and over 110 acres between Sitabuldi and Cradock Town (present Dhantoli area) to the east of Wardha Road.
NIT was supposed to keep the development plan of the Britishers a close secret and hence it had very few public representatives by keeping majority ex-officio executives to control affairs as per the British law. This also ensured that the British plans of development remained a secret to meet their needs.
After India’s independence. NIT took over the development of these plans and subsequently changed the plans sans proper town planning and implementation. As such four plans were implemented by NIT. (a) Greater Nagpur Plan of 1946 (b) Master Plan to 1953 (c) Aped plan of 1968 and (d) Development Plan of 1976. The Development plan of 1986 revised upto 1999 is currently under consideration.
Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act was passed in 1966.In Nagpur it was redundant due to NIT’s presence as the latter had taken number of schemes of development under it’s control (Source NT-7/7/89; NT-13/5/90; NT-14/8/93 and NT-30/12/87).
The Nagpur Muncipal Corporation (NMC) which was formed for improvement of city under the CITY of Nagpur Corporation Act, 1948 (CNC Act) was primarily given the responsibility of upkeeping and maintenance of civic amenities but the planning authority remained NIT. Recently the NMC has also been a given the status of a planning authority for areas under it’s control. Overlapping rules & planning by the NIT, NMC and the Town Planning Authority under the MRTP Act are still a contentious issue to be resolved. This is a unique case in Maharashtra.
Hence the tale of Nagpur has been that of lost glory.
Given this past, lately Nagpur is witnessing substantial initiatives and steps, being taken for the development. However, needless to say that a proper Master Plan which is implementable remains a need of the hour. In fact the development Plan which is under approval is so old that it is almost redundant even before it’s implementation.
Establishment of the region-
he Government, exercising its powers under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 established the Nagpur Region Co-terminus with the entire Nagpur District boundary under it’s notification No. TPS-2490/568/DR-28/UD-9 dated November 15, 91. The region thus covers the earlier Nagpur Metropolitan region of which the plan was sanctioned by Government in 1976.