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Centre sets up expert panel to train urban planners

ByRisha Chitlangia
May 02, 2022 11:40 PM IST

As part of the urban planning reforms announced by the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this year’s budget, the ministry aims to train 5,000 urban planners in the next five years.

New Delhi: The Centre has constituted an eight-member expert committee to prepare a strategy for training urban planners working with state governments and local bodies in emerging concepts.

The ministry has decided to plan two capacity building programmes, a five-day course and a month-long session, to train urban planners
The ministry has decided to plan two capacity building programmes, a five-day course and a month-long session, to train urban planners

As part of the urban planning reforms announced by the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this year’s budget, the ministry aims to train 5,000 urban planners in the next five years, said the official.

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The committee, which was constituted last month by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), is headed by PSN Rao, director of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA). The first meeting was held on April 28.

According to a senior ministry official, the ministry has decided to plan two capacity building programmes, a five-day course and a month-long session, to train urban planners in “emerging innovative concepts of urban planning”.

The committee members include Sanjay Gupta (professor of transport planning at SPA Delhi), N Sridharan (director of SPA Bhopal), Saswat Bandhyopadhyay (professor at CEPT, Ahmedabad), OP Agarwal (CEO WRI India), Subrata Chattopadhyay (IIT Kharagpur), Shreya Gadepalli (transport expert at Urban Works Institute) and R Sriniwas (town and country planner at Town and Country Planning Organisation).

“The aim is to bridge the gaps in capacity building and make town planners, especially in small cities, aware of the new planning schemes and tools which they can use as per the local condition and requirements...” said Sriniwas.

A senior MoHUA official who did not want to be named said, “The expert committee will have to first assess the training needs of urban planners in local bodies, urban development authorities and state governments. The committee will have to submit its recommendations by July to the ministry suggesting a roadmap for capacity building of around 5,000 urban planners in the next five years.”

The key focus areas of the training programme will be the implementation of town planning schemes, improving the existing areas through the local area plan, promoting transit oriented development, including heritage conservation in local planning; among others.

A second senior official from the ministry said the emphasis will also be on modernising building by-laws and reworking zoning regulations in a bid to promote planned development. With the Centre focusing on the rejuvenation of water bodies and green spaces under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT 2.0), state governments are working on integration of blue and green infrastructure. “The training programme will also focus on this aspect and training planners in emerging trends,” said the official.

Transferable development rights (TDR) is yet another planning tool that can help cities create space for essential infrastructure in congested areas. It has worked well in cities abroad such as New York, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.

In the past few years, cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad have introduced TDR for the conservation of heritage, providing essential infrastructure in densely populated areas, slum redevelopment etc. In September 2020, NITI Aayog came out with guidelines for the implementation of TDR.

The expert committee will also identify institutions of impacting subject-specific training for planners.

Urban planner Sabyasachi Das, former planning commissioner (in-charge) at Delhi Development Authority, said, “It is good that the government is finally thinking about capacity building of urban planners. But such short duration courses wouldn’t help much; these people also need proper training in using these new planning tools. There should also be some incentive for urban planners to use these new planning approaches to address the local problems.”

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