- GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- NITI Aayog has recently launched a report on Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India toramp up urban planning capacity in India.
Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity: Why needed?
- India is home to 11% of the total global urban population. By 2027, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world.
- Unplanned urbanization, however, exerts great strain on our cities.
- In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dire need for the planning and management of our cities.
- Urban planning is the foundation for an integrated development of cities, citizens, and the environment.
- Unfortunately, it has not received due attention so far. The existing urban planning and governance framework is complex, which often leads to ambiguity and lack of accountability.
- Programmatic Intervention for Planning of Healthy Cities
- Every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy City for All’ by 2030.
- The report recommends a Central Sector Scheme ‘500 Healthy Cities Programme’, for a period of 5 years, wherein priority cities and towns would be selected jointly by the states and local bodies.
- Programmatic Intervention for Optimum Utilization of Urban Land
- All the cities and towns under the proposed ‘Healthy Cities Programme’ should strengthen development control regulations based on scientific evidence to maximize the efficiency of urban land.
- The report recommends a sub-scheme ‘Preparation/Revision of Development Control Regulations’ for this purpose.
- Ramping Up of Human Resources
To combat the shortage of urban planners in the public sector, the report recommends that the states/UTs may need to
- Expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners, and
- Additionally, sanction 8268 town planners’ posts as lateral entry positions for a minimum period of 3 years and a maximum of 5 years to meet the gaps.
- Ensuring Qualified Professionals for Undertaking Urban Planning
- State town and country planning departments face an acute shortage of town planners.
- States may need to undertake requisite amendments in their recruitment rules to ensure the entry of qualified candidates into town-planning positions.
- Re-engineering of Urban Governance
- There is a need to bring in more institutional clarity and also multi-disciplinary expertise to solve urban challenges.
- The report recommends the constitution of a high-powered committee to re-engineer the present urban-planning governance structure.
- Revision of Town and Country Planning Acts
- Most States have enacted the Town and Country Planning Acts, that enable them to prepare and notify master plans for implementation. However, many need to be reviewed and upgraded.
- Therefore, the formation of an apex committee at the state level is recommended to undertake a regular review of planning legislations.
- Demystifying Planning and Involving Citizens
- While it is important to maintain the master plans’ technical rigour, it is equally important to demystify them for enabling citizens’ participation at relevant stages.
- Therefore, the committee strongly recommends a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for demystifying urban planning.
- Steps for Enhancing the Role of Private Sector
- The report recommends that concerted measures must be taken at multiple levels to strengthen the role of the private sector to improve the overall planning capacity in the country.
- Steps for Strengthening Urban Planning Education System
- The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer postgraduate degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.
- Measures for Strengthening Human Resource and Match Demand–Supply
- The report recommends the constitution of a ‘National Council of Town and Country Planners’ as a statutory body of the Government of India.
- Also, a ‘National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners’ is suggested to be created within the National Urban Innovation Stack of MoHUA (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs).
- This portal will enable self-registration of all planners and evolve as a marketplace for potential employers and urban planners.