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65% of 7,933 urban settlements do not have any master plan: Niti Aayog report

It recommends that every city must aspire to become a Healthy city for all by 2030 and suggests a central sector scheme, 500 Healthy Cities Programme, for a period of five years

As many as 65% of the 7,933 urban settlements do not have any master plan. This leads to piecemeal interventions, haphazard constructions, urban sprawl, and environmental pollution, which can further aggravate issues such as traffic congestion, flooding, a report titled Reforms in Urban Planning released by Niti Aayog on September 16 has said.

"Such severe lack of preparedness to manage the level of urbanisation that the Indian cities are bound to witness in the coming decades is a huge risk. Clearly, the ‘business-as usual’ approach will not be sustainable. This gap needs to be plugged through concerted efforts at multiple fronts – legislative, organisational, procedural, and human resource – as may be relevant," the report said.

“Master plans are statutory instruments to guide and regulate the development of cities and are critical for managing urbanization as well as ‘spatial sustainability’. However, 65% of the 7933 urban settlements do not have any master plan. This leads to piecemeal interventions, haphazard constructions, urban sprawl, and environmental pollution, which can further aggravate issues such as traffic congestion, flooding, etc. Various shortcomings in the approaches of city planning and bottlenecks in plan implementation too need to be resolved,” the report said.

Releasing the report, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said that there was a need to reduce carbon footprint in urbanisation and that urban India will be powering the country's economic growth.

Kumar also highlighted the shortage of town planners, saying experts are needed to provided services to about 4,700 urban local bodies.

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There is a need to build smart and carbon positive cities with a view to reduce carbon footprint, he noted.

The report also points out that Covid-19 has revealed the dire need for planning and management of our cities, with a thrust on health aspects.

“In this context, every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy city for all’ by 2030. This would need a convergence of multi-sectoral efforts at the intersections of spatial planning, public health, and socio-economic development,” the report said.

The Committee recommends a central sector scheme, ‘500 Healthy Cities Programme’, for a period of five years. The detailed design of the scheme would need to be worked out by MoHUA in consultation with the States and UTs. Priority towns (from Class I and other size class categories) would be decided in regional meetings with the States/UTs, jointly organised by MoHUA and NITI Aayog, the Advisory Committee has recommended.

It has also suggested formation of an apex committee at the state level to undertake a regular review of planning legislations (including town and country planning or urban and regional development acts or other relevant acts).

Adequate citizen participation is also required during the planning process, the report has said.

“A major disconnect between plan preparation and its acceptance on ground is a lack of adequate citizen participation during the planning process. The planning processes have become highly technocratic in nature. While it is important to maintain their technical rigour, it is equally important to demystify them for enabling citizens’ participation at relevant stages,” it said.

The Advisory Committee strongly recommends a Citizen Outreach Campaign for demystifying and making urban planning more accessible, it added.
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Sep 16, 2021 09:45 pm

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