NITI Aayog’s Assessment

[pib] Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NITI Aayog

Mains level: Evolving concept of urban development

NITI Aayog has launched a report titled ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India’ on measures to ramp up urban planning capacity in India.

Reforms in Urban Planning

  • The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, in consultation with concerned ministries and eminent experts in the domain of urban and regional planning.
  • It underscores urban challenges, including town planning and emphasizes need greater policy attention in our country.

Why such report?

  • 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.
  • The existing urban planning and governance framework is complex, which often leads to ambiguity and lack of accountability.

Highlights of the report

The report makes several recommendations that can unblock bottlenecks in the value chain of urban planning capacity in India.  Some of them are:

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 (or planning area).
  • 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 a) expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners.
  • It asks to additionally sanction 8268 town planners’ posts as lateral entry positions.

Ensuring Qualified Professionals for Undertaking Urban Planning:

  • State town and country planning departments face an acute shortage of town planners.
  • This is compounded by the fact that in several states, ironically, a qualification in town planning is not even an essential criterion for such jobs.
  • 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:

  • The report recommends the constitution of a high-powered committee to re-engineer the present urban-planning governance structure.
  • The key aspects that would need to be addressed in this effort are:
  1. clear division of the roles and responsibilities of various authorities, appropriate revision of rules and regulations, etc.,
  2. creation of a more dynamic organizational structure, standardisation of the job descriptions of town planners and other experts, and
  3. extensive adoption of technology for enabling public participation and inter-agency coordination.

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 (including town and country planning or urban and regional development acts or other relevant acts).

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.
  • These include the adoption of fair processes for procuring technical consultancy services, strengthening project structuring and management skills in the public sector, and empanelment of private sector consultancies.

Steps for Strengthening Urban Planning Education System:

  • The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer PG degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country.
  • The committee also recommends that all such institutions may synergize with Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and respective state rural development departments.

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.
  • Also, a ‘National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners’ is suggested to be created within the National Urban Innovation Stack of MoHUA.
  • This portal will enable self-registration of all planners and evolve as a marketplace for potential employers and urban planners.

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