New Delhi: Urban development minister Kamal Nath on Monday said Delhi planners need to earmark areas in the city where high rises can be built.

“Those areas where high rises are possible must then be backed up with infrastructure," he said.

Nath said that even though he had received several representations and letters advising him against this decision to allow high rise buildings as the city lacks infrastructure, there was no option for Delhi to expand horizontally “with Haryana on one side and Uttar Pradesh on the other".

The minister mooted the idea of allowing taller buildings in the city at a conference last month but many urban planners, architects and experts have opposed the proposal.

Nath said that even the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) talks about “the optimum use of land". He said the ministry needed to be practical and choose the “art of feasible against the art of the desirable".

M. Ramachandran, a former secretary of the urban development ministry, said there were factors to be kept in mind while designating areas in the city where vertical growth was possible. “One important consideration is the width of the road, and others are availability of parking, water, electricity and sewage services," he said.

Professor Sanjukta Bhaduri of the department of urban planning at the School of Planning and Architecture said there can’t be a blanket solution. “The rationale for high-rise buildings in the city should be based on studies. There has to be a mix of high rises and low rises in the city and a balance needs to be maintained," she said.

Bhaduri added that taking into account considerations such as scarcity of land, there is a need to accommodate people. “We need to understand the disaster proneness of the area and see if the area (where the high rise is to be built) has the potential to augment infrastructure," she said.

Partha Mukhopadhyay, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, said the city is already going vertical but without the attention grabbing skyscrapers. “Many colonies have four floors now and some have even more, so the process of going vertical is already happening," he said.