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NITI Aayog calls for central scheme '500 Healthy Cities Programme'

NITI Aayog calls for central scheme '500 Healthy Cities Programme'

New Delhi, Sep 16 (UNI) A report on 'Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India' which was launched by NITI Aayog on Thursday has recommended a Central Sector Scheme '500 Healthy Cities Programme', for a period of five years, wherein priority cities and towns would be selected jointly by the states and local bodies.
'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 report said.
Every city must aspire to become a 'Healthy City for All' by 2030, the report recommended.
All the cities and towns under the proposed 'Healthy Cities Programme' should strengthen development control regulations based on scientific evidence to maximise the efficiency of urban land (or planning area), it recommended.
The report recommends a sub-scheme 'Preparation/Revision of Development Control Regulations' for this purpose.
To combat the shortage of urban planners in the public sector, the report recommends that the states/UTs may need to expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners, and additionally sanction 8268 town planners' posts as lateral entry positions for a minimum period of three years and a maximum of five years to meet the gaps.
'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,' the report recommended.
The report recommends the constitution of a high-powered committee to re-engineer the present urban-planning governance structure.
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.
The committee strongly recommends a 'Citizen Outreach Campaign' for demystifying urban planning.
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.
The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer
postgraduate degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.
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/directorates and develop demand-driven short-term programmes on rural area planning.
The report recommends the constitution of a 'National Council of Town and Country Planners' as a statutory body of the Government of India.
NITI Aayog today launched a report on measures to ramp up urban planning capacity in India.
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 presents a condensed outcome of the extensive deliberations and consultations conducted over a period of 9 months.
'In the coming years, urban India will power the growth of the Indian economy. Urban challenges, including town planning, need greater policy attention in our country. There is a compelling need to plug the gaps in urban planning capacity in the country, else a huge opportunity for rapid, sustainable and equitable growth would be at risk of being missed,' NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar said.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant emphasized, 'Urbanization is the driving force of the Indian economy.
The country has reached a turning point in its transformation. It will be half urban in a couple of decades. This is the first time in the history of India that the question of urban planning capacity has been dealt with in depth.'
He also added that, 'Greater synergies among the public and private sectors and education institutions will provide a massive boost towards making Indian cities more liveable, competitive, and sustainable.'

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