India’s Urban Planning


    In Context

    • Recently, urban planners highlighted the need for a multi-generational process for India’s urban journey.


    • The need for urban planning has come in the aftermath of the recent Joshimath incident in which an aquifer was hit by a tunnel boring machine in Joshimath resulting in the loss of nearly 800 litres of water per second. 
    • Land subsidence incidents in hilly urban India are becoming increasingly common and an estimated 12.6% of India’s land area is prone to landslides and poor Urban policies are making the scenario even worse.
    • Besides this, there is also a burning issue of urban flooding which requires immediate multiple measures of flood-proofing of Indian cities.
    • Government should focus on acquiring credible data for enhancing urban resilience with regard to land subsidence while landslide risk needs to be mapped at the granular level.
    • There is also a need to incorporate environmental planning and enhance natural open spaces and for that Urban authorities in India should assess and enhance urban infrastructure for long-term resilience.

    Importance of Urban Planning for India

    • Managing urban growth: With India being one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, Urban planning will help by ensuring that cities have the necessary infrastructure and services to accommodate their growing populations.
    • Improving quality of life: Urban planning can ensure access to basic services such as water, sanitation, and healthcare besides creating more livable and walkable neighborhoods that are safer and more pleasant to live in.
    • Promoting economic growth: Cities are important drivers of economic growth, and urban planning can help to promote this growth through measures such as zoning regulations, transportation infrastructure, and the development of business districts.
    • Enhancing environmental sustainability: Urban planning can ensure that cities are designed in a way that minimizes their impact on the environment through measures such as green spaces, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable transportation options.

    Challenges of urban planning in India

    • Rapid urbanization: India is experiencing a rapid increase in population and urbanization, which puts immense pressure on its cities to accommodate the needs of its citizens.
    • Lack of adequate infrastructure: Many Indian cities lack basic infrastructure, such as reliable water and sanitation systems, adequate housing, and public transportation, which is a major obstacle in the effective planning and management of urban areas.
    • Land use planning: In many cases, land use planning in India’s cities is not carried out in a well-informed and participatory manner, leading to haphazard and unplanned growth, inadequate provision of open spaces, and the encroachment on green areas and floodplains.
    • Climate change and natural disasters: Indian cities are also vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and earthquakes, which are often exacerbated by climate change, and require careful urban planning and risk mitigation measures.
    • Political interference and corruption: Political interference and corruption in decision-making can lead to the neglect of critical issues such as environmental protection, public safety, and social welfare, and result in the skewed allocation of resources and unfair distribution of benefits.
    • Lack of public participation: Public participation is crucial to the success of urban planning, but in India, there is a lack of effective mechanisms to engage with citizens in decision-making processes, which results in alienation and mistrust among the people.

    Important Government schemes on Urban Planning

    • Smart Cities Mission: It was launched in 2015 with the objective to develop 100 smart cities in the country, which will have an advanced infrastructure and offer a high quality of life to its residents.
    • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): It was launched in 2015 which focuses on improving basic urban infrastructure in cities and towns, such as water supply, sewerage, and transportation.
    • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY): This scheme was launched in 2015 with the aim of providing affordable housing to the urban poor. It has two components: PMAY-Urban for urban areas and PMAY-Gramin for rural areas.
    • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: This is a national cleanliness campaign launched in 2014, which aims to improve sanitation and cleanliness in urban areas.
    • Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY): It was launched in 2015 with focus on developing heritage cities and preserving their cultural and historical significance.
    • National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM): This scheme was launched in 2013 and aims to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the urban poor, with a focus on skill development and entrepreneurship.
    • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM): This was a flagship scheme of the government launched in 2005, which aimed to improve urban infrastructure and governance in cities.

    Way ahead

    • Overall, urban planning is critical to the development of sustainable, livable, and prosperous cities in India. 
    • It can help to ensure that the benefits of urbanization are shared by all residents and that cities are able to grow and thrive in a way that is equitable and sustainable.

    Source: DTE