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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014
Land ahoy!
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 30, 2012
First Published: 17:39 IST(30/10/2012)
Last Updated: 17:04 IST(2/11/2012)
Master of all subjects: Town planning is an interdisciplinary profession, thus one needs to have a broad understanding of several subjects such as engineering, architecture, geography, public administration, economics, sociology, etc

The lowdown

A town planner is trained to prepare town plans, or master plans. These are statutory documents that give broad direction for the spatial growth of a city. They also play a crucial role in terms of validating land use, approving land subdivisions, projects and giving sanctions to the proposals put up by real estate developers. In addition to preparing master plans, town planners also have to prepare zonal plans for the city. Town planning encompasses architecture, engineering, legal aspects, economics, urban morphology and geographical information systems. It involves conducting feasibility studies, planning and designing for a range of projects, including development plans of cities, master plans of special economic zones, industrial estates, commercial and residential projects etc

Clockwork
The average work day of a town planner:
10am: Reach office
10.30am: Hold a coordination meeting
11am: Appear in court, if the matter listed
10.30am to 12.30pm: Hold brainstorming session on design
12.30pm to 1.30pm: Discussion on drafts made in the studio
1.30pm to 2.30pm: Lunch
2.30pm to 4pm:  Meet clients, discuss problems and find solutions
5pm to 7pm: Deliberate with senior team on issues of planning/ discuss reports
7pm: Leave for home
One day in a week is usually reserved for field visits

The payoff
All kinds of job opportunities exist in both government and private sectors. An architecture graduate can make a start as an associate town planner at a salary of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month. He/she then graduates to become a senior town planner and earn Rs. 75,000 per month. A joint director planner can earn around Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh per month. A director is usually a shareholder of a town planning firm and his earnings depend on projects he gets in. His monthly earnings can be anything above Rs. 2 lakh per month and go as high as Rs. 10 lakh per month. One can also work as a professor in a reputed institute

Skills/TRAITS
* Excellent communication, negotiating and presentation skills
* Thorough knowledge of local planning bylaws and guidelines
* Ability to research and evaluate data, good organisational and time management skills
* Should have a degree in engineering, architecture and economics before deciding to become a town planner
* Good at sketching, imaginative, good at data interpretation and have knowledge of software

Getting there
In terms of education, there are many fields one can pursue in order to become a town planner. These include architecture, civil engineering, economics and geography among others. One has to have a maths and science background for entering at the undergraduate level. One can pursue a bachelor’s course in architecture or civil engineering and master’s in planning. Government offers scholarships around of Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 9,000 per month if you qualify GATE exam

Institutes and URLs
* School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi
 www.spa.ac.in
* Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad             
        www.cept.ac.in
* Malviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur                       
        www.mnit.ac.in
* Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
 www.gndu.ac.in
* Bartlett School of Planning, London, UK
 www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/planning

Pros and cons
* Well paying but time consuming job
* Involves study and effort
* A town planner needs to keep abreast with new technologies and possess multi-disciplinary knowledge

India being an under-developed country, the need for town planners and urban designers is increasing -- Shirish G Sukhatme, president, Practicing Engineers, Architects, and Town Planners Association (PEATE), Mumbai


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