India-Infrastructure Report 2023

India-Infrastructure Report 2023

News: Recently, The India Infrastructure Report 2023 on Urban Planning and Development was recently released.

Background:
• It covered several complicated issues concerning Urban planning and development.
• According to the 2011 Census, the urbanisation rate in India was 31.2%, which is expected to increase to 43.2% by 2035 as per UN Habitat World Cities Report.
• It calls for detailed and careful approach towards urban planning in the country.

Need for Urban planning and Development:
• Urban cities in India captures just 3% of land but contributes to 60% of the GDP.
• India’s urban population is expected to cross 50% of the total population within the next 2 decades which will require prior planning to promote ease of living.
• Urban poverty and urban poor are growing in the country. You can see slums on one side in the city and thriving infrastructure on the other which reflects the need to improve lives of poor people in urban areas.
• The need of hour is to provide water, sanitation and healthcare to those living in urban areas.
• Strong and resilient urban infrastructure will be able to withstand growing concerns against urban flooding, climate catastrophes as seen recently in Chennai floods post cyclone’s impact.

What are the challenges to urbanization?
• Inconsistent urbanization pattern observed between states. States with weak resources, capacity building lag in terms of urbanization growth rate while those states better off continue to outperform others. Thus, there is lack of uniformity in planning.
• According to the NITI Aayog Report, 50% of India’s statutory towns are expanding without any master plan to guide their growth and infrastructure.
• According to Census 2011, 17.3% of the total urban population is living in slums. Lack of affordable housing is contributing to creation and expansion of slums.
• India’s major cities face the possibility of highest overall water risk as reported by the WWF for Nature India in 2020.
The NITI Aayog’s report on ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India’ provides a comprehensive set of recommendations to improve urban planning in India. They are:
• Planning Healthy Cities: The report emphasizes the need for interventions that promote healthier urban environments. It has recommended a central sector scheme ‘500 Healthy Cities Programme’, for a period of 5 years to ensure holistic socio-economic development of Indian cities.
• Optimum Utilization of Urban Land: It suggests strategies for the most effective use of urban land resources. All the cities/towns under the proposed ‘Healthy Cities Programme’ should strengthen regulations to maximize the efficiency of urban land (or planning area). There must be regular review of town and country planning or urban and regional development acts.
• Ramping Up Human-Resource Capacities: The report highlights the importance of enhancing human resource capacities to meet the challenges of urban planning.
• Strengthening Urban Governance: It underscores the need to strengthen urban governance mechanisms.
• Building Local Leadership: The report advocates for the development of strong local leadership in urban planning.
• Enhancing the Role of Private Sector: It recommends increasing the involvement of the private sector in urban planning. It has also recommended a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for making the process of urban planning more inclusive and accessible.
• Advancing the Urban Planning Education System: The report suggests reforms in the urban planning education system to better equip future urban planners.

Conclusion
• There are also very few institutes in India imparting town and country planning educations. Thus, India needs more town planners and institutes that will cater to urban planning requirements. 

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