Wanted: town planners for smart cities

  • Vandana Ramnani, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 28, 2015 19:47 IST

A town planner is trained to prepare town plans or Master Plans. These are statutory documents which give the broad direction for the spatial growth of a city. Most states in India have Town Planning Acts which empower the state town planning departments to prepare plans for all of its towns and cities. After the town plans are prepared, they need to be implemented. Town planners also play a role there in terms of validating land uses, approving land subdivisions, projects, etc.

Town planners have a key role to play in terms of giving sanctions to the proposals put up by real estate developers. Town planners, in addition to preparing Master Plans, also have to prepare zonal plans for the city.

Today, in addition to political interference in the planning process, it is increasingly being felt that people themselves also need to be actively involved.

Therefore, plans prepared today need to go through detailed exposure in terms of stakeholder consultative meetings, etc. Often, in the preparation of a Master Plan, thousands of comments are received and all these need to be duly examined before the plan is finalised. This is often seen as a huge challenge and not always welcome.

Therefore, over the years, India has moved from a top down approach to a participative and inclusive approach to plan preparation, says Prof Dr PSN Rao, head (housing), SPA, Delhi.

There is a huge scope for town planners in India. Whilst we have as many as 5,161 towns and cities in the country only a few hundred of them have plans prepared. Also, with a 100 smart cities being planned across the country, the demand for town planners will be humongous.

There are around 600 districts and 5,000 towns in the country. Most cities do not even have zonal plans in place and many states have also only recently initiated the process of town planning. Rapid urbanisation across the country will therefore ensure that town planners are always in great demand.

As far as salaries are concerned, an architecture graduate can start as an associate town planner at a salary of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month.

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