Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Thursday emphasised the need to reduce carbon footprint in urbanisation and said urban India will be powering the country's economic growth.
Releasing a report on 'Reforms In Urban Planning', he said there is a compelling need to plug the gaps in urban planning capacity in the country. Otherwise, a huge opportunity for rapid, sustainable and equitable growth would be at risk of being missed, he added.
Kumar also highlighted the shortage of town planners, saying experts are needed to provided services to about 4,700 urban local bodies.
There is a need to build smart and carbon positive cities with a view to reduce carbon footprint, he noted.
Speaking on the occasion, Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shankar Mishra said urban planning holds the key for economic development and optimum utilisation of available infrastructure, especially in sectors like water, sanitation, healthcare and education.
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said urbanisation is the driving force of the Indian economy, adding that the country has reached a turning point in its transformation.
The report has made several commendations that "can unblock bottlenecks" in the value chain of urban planning capacity in India.
To combat the shortage of urban planners in the public sector, it has recommended that states/UTs may need to expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners, and additionally sanction 8,268 town planners' posts as lateral entry positions for a minimum period of three years and a maximum of five years to meet the gaps.
The report noted that 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, it suggested.
Further, the report said that most states have enacted the Town and Country Planning Acts that enable them to prepare and notify master plans for implementation.
"However, many need to be reviewed and upgraded. Therefore, 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)," it said.
It has also made a strong case for the central universities and technical institutions to offer post graduate degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.
Faculty shortage in educational institutions conducting degree and PhD programmes in planning need to be resolved in a time-bound manner by 2022, it added.
The report has also recommended the constitution of a 'National Council of Town and Country Planners' as a statutory body of the government.
Another suggestion is for having a 'National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners' within the National Urban Innovation Stack of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.