A greener, safer future for Indian cities 

Context: The IPCC’s latest report shows how smart urban planning can mitigate the effects of climate change.  

What is the need for smart urban planning in India? 

India is witnessing one of the largest urban growth spurts in history.  

By the time India turns 100, nearly half the population will be living in urban areas, making it imperative to not only nurture India’s megacities but also facilitate tier-2 and tier-3 cities to gear up for the future. 

Therefore, the Union Budget 2022 had announced the formation of a high-level committee of planners, economists and institutions to make recommendations on urban sector policies.  

What are the challenges wrt urban infra in India? 

Town and country planning acts in India have largely remained unchanged over the past 50 years, relying on techniques set up by the British.  

Cities still create land use and regulatory control-based master plans. The focus of planning continues to be the strict division of the city into various homogeneous zones such as residential, commercial and industrial. 

Master plans face prolonged delays in preparation, sanctioning and implementation. Inter-agency negotiations remain out of the scope of the master planning process. They tend to take a static, broad-brush approach to cities that have dynamic fine-grained structures and local specificities.  

What measures need to be implemented?  

Globally, cities are moving to the practice of developing strategic plans and projects along with local area plans. 

The projects should be designed and developed in the context of land that can be made available and capital resources that can be raised. 

Strategic plans should be developed every five years to increase a city’s competitiveness and help it achieve its strategic goals with respect to sustainability and economic development by identifying key projects to be implemented. 

Finally, local area plans should be developed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of citizens through public participation, contextualising local challenges, needs and ambitions. 

Cities should also aim to mainstream the use of spatialised social, economic and environmental data to create robust links across the urban- rural continuum. 

Way Forward

Building consensus around future growth and development, with a focus on climate action, economic and social integration, is crucial. Such a participatory process is what will help build a vibrant, inclusive and liveable urban India. 

Source: This post is created based on the article “A greener, safer future for Indian cities” published on 12th Apr 22 in The Indian Express.

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